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April 2021 volume 2 issue 10

April 2, 2021 volume 2 issue 10




Subaru Is ‘Sharing the Love’! A new musical video bringing the community together! P13

Conversations with Nicole Our Community Provides Easter Gifts to Refugee Children P7

Artist Profile: RD Riccoboni P12


Public Service

Big Mike & Friends Featuring Dre Mulder P8

Life Beyond Therapy Looking Back; Looking Ahead P9

OUT OF THE ARCHIVES GETTIN’ ZIGGY WITH IT Afrikan American Gay Understanding the Woman’s Association P10 Trans Experience P11

A note from toni A Bright April Ahead P6 District Attorney news What to Know Before Switching to Solar Power P14

Heroines of the San Diego LGBTQ+

Pride Report

San Diego API Coalition P3 Vibe with Pride P3 PFLAG Asian American Pacific Islander Support Group P7 Court News

1975 Gay Man’s Murderer, Set for May 12th Trial P14

Susan Jester (courtesy images)

Community By Nicole Murray Ramirez

his week marks the end of Women’s History Month, so the LGBTQ San Diego County News would like to celebrate two local San Diego icons who are true heroines that have contributed to the building of our LGBTQ+ community and city in general through decades of public service.



hen the history of the city of San Diego and the LGBTQ+ community is written, it will most certainly tell the story of one of its major Lesbian trailblazers and historic icons, that of course being Susan Jester! She was the first LGBTQ+ San Diegan to receive an official appointment by the mayor of San Diego and the Neighborhood Advisory Council, and she is the founder of the San Diego AIDS Walk, which is now the biggest AIDS fundraiser in the county having raised well over $1 million. She once again made history last week by being inducted into the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame. Susan was born in San Bernardino, California, into a very religious and conservative Republican family; in fact, her mother became a leader in the Fundamentalist Christian Movement. Susan, the only child of the Jester family, knew she was a Lesbian when she was in her teens but got married to a man at the age of 16 and gave birth to her beloved son (and now renowned artist) David Jester. Susan’s husband was sadly killed in a car accident.



Cindy Lehman (courtesy image)

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or nearly four decades when you think of Hillcrest icons and allies of our LGBTQ+ community, one of the first names to always come up is Cindy Lehman. This week, she is retiring as senior vice president from the Hillcrest branch of California Bank & Trust. Cindy is originally from Gardner, Kansas, a town of about 10,000 people. When she lived there, she had a close friendship with her Gay brother-in-law and tried her best to protect him from constant harassment and ridicule. In 1984, she moved to San Diego and within weeks got a


1299 CAMINO DEL RIO SOUTH | 619.906.5546

job as a bank teller at the Hillcrest branch and worked her way up to assistant manager, manager, vice president and then senior vice president. She quickly realized that the Hillcrest branch of California Bank & Trust was in the heart of the LGBTQ+ community and as sure as the saying goes, “Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore,” she quickly got herself involved with the neighborhood and community. She joined the Hillcrest Business Association and Hillcrest CityFest. She made sure that her bank became the first to join an LGBTQ+ business organization as well as have a booth at the San Diego Pride Festival.




Cover Story

April 2021 volume 2 issue 10


Heroines of the San Diego LGBTQ+ Community continued from Page 1



(Above) Cindy Lehman Friend of Pride 2010, Cindy Lehman SDEBA 40th Anniversary Celebration (courtesy images).

(above) San Diego AIDS Memorial Benefit Concert Conference 2015, San Diego Walks for Life 1986 (courtesy of Lambda Archives),Susan Jester Pride Community Grand Marshal and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer 2017, Susan Jester during San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame 2021 (courtesy images).

In 1961, the Jester family moved to San Diego and Susan attended San Diego State University. In 1983, Susan Jester came out of her closet with a bang — she ran and won the title of Miss Gay San Diego and immediately became a well-known and effective activist for LGBTQ+ civil rights. In the 1960s and ’70s, San Diego was a solid Republican stronghold and for Susan, being a moderate progressive Republican opened doors for her and gave her access to elected officials to discuss LGBTQ+ issues. In fact, at the time, the Log Cabin Republican Club had only about five members, but after Susan’s two terms as their president, it had more than 100 LGBTQ+ members. Susan Jester and Tony Zampella are given credit for getting Republican elected officials to become pro LGBTQ+ and got many to support AIDS funding. In fact, at the prestigious annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in 2014, Susan was presented the San Diego Republican Party’s Coalition Builder Award. She has always been about bringing people and communities together. Her personal heroes and role models are Abraham Lincoln, Billie Jean King, Harvey Milk, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Senator John McCain. Susan was named Grand Marshal of the 2017 San Diego Pride Parade after serving as the national executive director of Stonewall 25 in New York City. Though Susan is one of the community’s pioneering Lesbian activists like Bridget Wilson, Jeri Dilno, Gloria Johnson, etc., she has been subjected to a long history of negativity and attacks because of her

political party affiliation. Currently Susan is a city commissioner, vice chair of the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force, board member of the GLBT Historic Task Force of San Diego and the Sheriffs LGBTQ Advisory Board. She just finished a seven-year term as co-chair of former Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s LGBTQ Advisory Board. Recently, Faulconer said this of Susan: “Katherine [Faulconer] and I are so proud of our friend, Susan Jester for her induction into San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame. On top of her accomplished career, Susan has been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community and pioneered San Diego’s first AIDS Walk in 1985. No one is more deserving of this honor than Susan Jester.” Susan has always been a very spiritual and religious person and, along with Bob Leyh, established a now nondenominational church service at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral during San Diego Pride week. Last year, Susan also re-registered as an independent voter in view of the extreme right swing of the Republican party. Susan Jester is a true patriot and Christian in every sense of the word and a special woman in our community. In recent years, Susan has found a spiritual home at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Bankers Hill. “Susan blesses our cathedral community and the broader Episcopal Diocese with her commitment, leadership, and experience in dealing with media and government. She is a dearly loved member of our parish family,” says the Rev. Penny Bridges, Cathedral Pastor.

Cindy is not afraid to take a stand when it comes to equality and fighting discrimination. She even got her bank to pull their ads from a radio station which aired one program with a homophobic host who regularly attacked the LGBTQ+ community. Soon, her good friends Gary Holt and Dominick Fiume asked her to join the Greater San Diego Business Association, which is now the San Diego Equality Business Association. She was then elected to the board of directors and served for almost a decade. When Cindy first arrived in San Diego, she was taken aback by the constant growth of our city’s homelessness crisis, and if you know Cindy, she puts her money and action where her mouth is and has served for 25 years on the board of the Alpha Project, which is totally focused on helping people experiencing homelessness. During the early dark years of the AIDS crisis, not only did Cindy get involved but so did her bank. California Bank & Trust’s support of AIDS organizations is wellknown but it was Cindy Lehman who went out of her way to educate people living with AIDS on how to financially protect themselves (by adding their partners to their wills and bank accounts) from what she was watching happen — many families and parents of Gay sons who died of AIDS were going into their homes and lives that they shared with their partners and taking everything they could from the surviving partner, especially if the families didn’t approve of their lifestyle. Indeed, it is also because of Cindy’s community and neighborhood leadership and activism that her bank won “Best Bank” category in the San Diego Union Tribune Readers Best Of poll. In 2010, San Diego Pride honored Cindy with its prestigious Friend of Pride Award and she says it was one of the highlights of her life. There is also a

permanent award established by the San Diego Equality Business Association named after her, The Cindy Lehman Lifetime Achievement Award. When asked about Cindy, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria stated: “There is no better friend of Hillcrest or San Diego’s LGBTQ+ Community than Cindy Lehman. I’ve known Cindy for over 20 years and have seen her hard work first-hand. She is honest, generous, and a true ally. As she prepares to retire from her work at California Bank & Trust, I want to extend the City’s sincere appreciation to Cindy for all that she has done for all of us. Our community is a much better place because of her.” Cindy Lehman has become a most beloved member of our LGBTQ+ community and has gained a legion of friends and admirers both inside and outside our community because of her legendary acts of personal kindness, be it visiting people in the hospital, taking care of the needs of newlywed LGBTQ+ couples, helping small businesses and social service organizations, etc. Cindy feels she has not only been blessed with the love and friendship with so many people and our community but especially by her beloved husband Rhett (named after Clark Gable’s character from “Gone With the Wind”). There will be a big void in Hillcrest when Cindy retires but she will absolutely always have a place in many of our hearts. I think our California State Senate President Toni Atkins put it best when she said: “Frankly, I don’t recall a Hillcrest without Cindy! She was our banker when I was the manager at Woman Care back in 1987. A true civic leader always part of any successful Hillcrest endeavor. But best of all: smart, feisty and with a laserfocused wit and a huge heart to tie it all together. Just a genuinely good person.”

pride news


San Diego API Coalition A Way for the API Community to Collaborate, Communicate, and Advocate Collectively By Kent Lee and Alex C. Villafuerte

(courtesy photo)


s we all reflect upon the past year of the pandemic, it is clear that the time has been one fraught with many challenges including one of the darkest side effects - the virus of hate that accompanied it. Yet, it is often in the face of these darkest moments that light shines brightest - and we are called to speak up and build together for lasting social change. Looking back, it is truly hard to grasp the number of lives lost, jobs that still have not returned, and the livelihoods altered throughout San Diego as well as across our nation. Our hearts continue to ache for all those who have been impacted either directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The onset of the pandemic also brought upon us an increased wave of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and hate inflicted upon our Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities. Even before the virus itself had taken a foothold across the country, API communities were already sharing anecdotes that would become far too regular in the year ahead. Businesses reported decreased patronage, even as many communities were beginning to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday.

Jai Rodriguez (photo by Adam Bouska)

Individuals retold stories of being the target of jokes and comments about “spreading the coronavirus.” What may have started out as subtle biases certainly did not remain under the surface for long. As COVID-19 began to spread, so did reports of harassment and even physical assault. The national Stop AAPI Hate reporting tool was started in March 2020 and in just four weeks, nearly 1,500 incident reports poured in from across the country. Over 3,800 incidents have been reported to date. As so many of us know, discrimination is not new to the pandemic nor to the API community, the LGBTQ community, and many marginalized communities. It has long been a part of the history of our country - inflicted upon anyone who might be labeled as “foreign” or “different.” Or as “other.” The San Diego Asian Pacific Islander (API) Coalition was born in this darkness - organically and in response to the increased hatred we have all witnessed. The effort began through the outreach of the Queer Asian Pacific Islander Middle-Eastern Desi American (APIMEDA) Coalition, at San Diego Pride, to partners at Pacific Arts Movement, presenters of the

Myylo (courtesy photo)

San Diego Asian Film Festival, with an invite to consider a community response to the racism and xenophobia at the start of 2020. In just a few weeks, the effort grew to include nearly a dozen organizations who worked collaboratively on a joint statement denouncing hate and calling upon San Diegans to speak out together. Over 70 API-serving organizations signed onto the final statement, ranging from student organizations at a variety of local college campuses to employee resource groups at local businesses to numerous non-profit organizations across the county. Hundreds of additional individuals and other community organizations would go on to offer their support as well. Shortly thereafter, the core Coalition group began working with San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez to craft a resolution denouncing anti-Asian racism and xenophobia. Co-sponsored by Councilmember Monica Montgomery, the resolution asked the city to take action on ten points of emphasis, and was passed unanimously 8-0

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Roann Mesina (courtesy photo)

Vibe with Pride

“Vibe with Pride was born as our joint effort with host Jai Rodriguez”


very year during Pride in July, San Diego Pride has had the unique ability to highlight LGBTQ artists and entertainers through media and on stage at the San Diego Pride Festival. As the pandemic shuttered venues and events, our organization continued to find ways to tell our story and the stories of our entertainers. During our virtual Pride Live 2020, we brought back many of our favorite artists including Margaret Cho, Jake Zyrus, Adam Lambert, and more to send messages of support and to perform. As the pandemic continued on, Entertainment Director Gardenia Partridge worked with Jai Rodriguez to find a new way to highlight our LGBTQ artists and create conversations on how art is advocacy. In October 2020, our web series

By Alex C. Villafuerte Vibe with Pride was born as our joint effort with host Jai Rodriguez to spotlight LGBTQ artists and to promote visibility, equality, and empowerment. “For the past 9 years, I’ve worked with many in the entertainment industry to find upcoming queer artists to perform at Pride so that folks attending can see themselves reflected on stage,” said San Diego Pride Entertainment Director Gardenia Partridge. “While we anxiously await the return of live performances, we can take this opportunity to hear from those artists directly and what motivates them.” Since October 2020, the web series has featured LGBTQ artists like Mila Jam, David Hernandez, JORDY, and local entertainers Paris Sukomi Max and Amber St.

James. The conversations have ranged from what they’ve been doing to keep themselves busy during the pandemic to what struggles and adversity they’ve had to overcome to get where they are now. “Partnering with San Diego pride to uplift LGBTQIA artists has been a dream come true since the media doesn’t always shine a light on artists from our community,” said Jai Rodriguez. “Our hope is to continue highlighting these artists and their stories in efforts to inspire and educate us all.” The series, presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, will feature upcoming guests queer artist Myylo on April 15 and local San Diegan Roann Mesina on May 20. More guests will be announced shortly. Learn more about the series at sdpride.org/vibewithpride

April 2021 volume 2 issue 10



April 2021 volume 2 issue 10





April 2021 volume 2 issue 10



April 2021 volume 2 issue 10

public service / OPINION


image by shutterstock.com

LGBTQ San Diego County News PO Box 34664 San Diego, CA 92163 858.886.9458 PUBLISHER Terry Sidie

A note from toni

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Nicole Murray Ramirez nicolemrsd1@gmail.com 619.241.5672

Toni G. Atkins

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Cesar A. Reyes creativedirector@lgbtqsd.news

—Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate. Follow her on Twitter @SenToniAtkins.

EDITOR JP Emerson editor@lgbtqsd.news


appy April! This week many Californians are celebrating Easter and Passover. While the celebrations will look a little different again this year, I think we’re all starting to feel some sense of optimism. If we continue to do our part—get vaccinated, keep wearing masks, wash your hands, and remember physical distancing. Since my last update to you, millions of Californians have been vaccinated, and millions more are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. As a sign of continuing progress, San Diego County has moved up into the red tier, allowing for the gradual reopening of more businesses, gyms and restaurants. The vaccine supply issue continues to be our greatest hurdle, but now there are three options in our battle: Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. We just ask for patience as we continue to receive vaccines.

• For information on scheduling an appointment, we recommend visiting MyTurn.gov or San Diego County’s website. • New CDC guidance allows for folks who are already vaccinated can gather. Please refer to the CDC’s website for the latest guidance. And remember, the statewide application for the tenant/landlord eviction relief enacted by the legislature and the governor is now available at the Housing is Key website. This April, thanks to our efforts in Sacramento and the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan, there is increased

SALES sales@lgbtqsd.news 858.886.9458

A Bright April Ahead

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Big Mike Phillips Bmsd1957@gmail.com 619.807.7324 WEB AND SOCIAL MEDIA info@lgbtq.news

funding for both the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and the California Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC programs put cash into people’s pockets and money into local economies. With the April 15 tax deadline being pushed back to May 17, we have extra time to spread the word, so please share this information with anyone you know who is eligible—and you don’t have to owe any taxes to qualify. CalEITC4me.org has more information about these important programs. I’m very pleased to announce that as we move into April, several of the bills I have introduced are making significant progress. SB 1,

which provides tools to help California and our communities push back against sea level rise, was approved by the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee, and after a couple more stops in the Senate we expect it to be taken up in the Assembly. I have to thank our own Dr. Margaret Leinen of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), California Coastal Commissioner Sara Aminzadeh, and Jennifer Savage of the Surfrider Foundation for joining me on World Water Day last month to promote SB1. I invite you to read the op-ed I

wrote about this here. SB 7, my bill to jumpstart and expand a successful CEQA streamlining program continues to advance, as does SB 9, which seeks to bridge the gap between producing the additional housing we need while including protections for communities and neighborhoods. In fact, along with SB 7 and SB 9, the Senate’s entire housing production package continues to gain support, and we are working hard to get those bills to the Governor’s desk and signed into law. All in all, it looks to be a busy month in April. And, hopefully, an even brighter one.

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alex C. Villafuerte Big Mike Phillips Dana Wiegand Gabrielle Garcia Kent Lee Matthew Encarnacion Michael Kimmel Neal Putnam Patric Stillman Summer Stephan Toni G. Atkins Ziggy Zig DISTRIBUTION LGBTQ San Diego County News is distributed free every first Friday of the month. © 2021. All rights reserved.

OPINION/LETTERS LGBTQ San Diego County News encourages letters to the editor and guest editorials. Please email them directly to editor@lgbtqsd.news and include your name, phone number and address for verification. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and accuracy. Letters and guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers or staff. SUBMISSION/NEWS TIPS Press releases and story ideas are welcomed. Send press releases, tips, photos or story ideas to editor@lgbtqsd.news. For breaking news and Investigative story ideas, contact the editor by phone or email. Copyright © 2021 LGBTQ San Diego County News Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this publication’s editorial and opinion pages are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of LGBTQ San Diego County News. The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.


community voices

April 2021 volume 2 issue 10


Conversations with Nicole PFLAG San Diego County Asian American Pacific Islander Support Group First meeting set for Sunday, April 11th at 3:00 PM

Nicole Murray Ramirez —Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the ‘Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest’ by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at Nicolemrsd1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Nmrsd2.

By Matthew Encarnacion



hen San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and San Diego County Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher (District 4) first announced that San Diego would be extending its humanitarian hand to refugee children from Central America and providing them a safe space at our convention center, I immediately thought “those kids will be spending Easter Sunday there” and as a Latino, I know the Easter holiday is a very special one in Latin and South American countries. So, members of the Imperial Court de San Diego decided to add the refugee children to our 19th annual Children’s Easter Basket Giveaway. Our cosponsors, San Diego City Council President Pro Tempore Stephen Whitburn (District 3), the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, and the Equality Business Alliance all agreed and then we soon learned that by Easter Sunday there will be 1,400 refugee girls ages 13 to 17 years old there. So, we decided to give them special “Easter gifts” that they will receive on Easter Sunday. And let me tell you, it most certainly takes a village! The Imperial Court de San Diego has been working with the wonderful people at South Bay Community Services, and especially the hard-working Larissa Tabin, to get these special Easter gifts put together. They will include comic books, stuffed animals, journals, crayons, coloring books, markers, etc. Also included will be an especially beautiful welcoming card in Spanish designed by renowned artist Tali Lopez. The 1,400-plus comic books will be provided by my Crowned Princess Bettie Pages, the fabulous owner of Mile High Comics in Denver, and the rest of the cost of gifts for the refugee girls are being provided by YOU, the generous donations from our local LGBTQ+ community — including donations from a large amount of members from the International Imperial Court System of the U.S., Canada and Mexico as well as my “Royal Husband” (LGBTQ San Diego County News Publisher and owner of Faces Nightclub in Sacramento and Reno), Mr. Terry Sidie! The outpouring of support from our now two Easter Sunday projects has touched us very much and we know that it was because of each of you who gave and supported these projects. I want to especially give my heartfelt thanks to Jen LeBron from Mayor Gloria’s office, Makana Rowan from County Supervisor Fletcher’s office, and Benny Cartwright from Council member Whitburn’s office for their important help and support. And of course, the Easter basket drop-off headquarters, Uptown Tavern and Freshii in Hillcrest, thank you both very much! Additional gratitude goes to Empress Regina Styles, California Senate President Toni Atkins, Jimmy Carter’s Restaurant, Big Daddy Leather, Eddie Rey, Elaine Graybill, Susan Jester, Reverend Penny, Nancy Chase and so, so many more that we’ll have to acknowledge after Easter as the love keeps coming in! Much appreciation to Big Mike and Dre Mulder. God bless you all for bringing smiles to thousands of children on Easter Sunday!

Mile High Comics have donated thousands of comic books for both Childrens Easter Projects.

ellowship is important amongst Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. There is an innate trust that exists between us since we have learned to rely on each other - an unspoken understanding that we are each other’s universal family. This is because there is little support that is solely for AAPI families, especially when it comes to LGBTQIA+ issues. POC community resources are usually geared toward Black and/ or Latinx communities. AAPI-specific help is incredibly scarce and our issues and needs are unique (and just as important). Some overlook our need for help because “we don’t have it that bad cause we’re basically white.” This is a result of white supremacy that pits AAPI communities against other POC communities. It completely disregards the racism we have faced throughout our nation’s history. We are seen closer to being white, yet we are never really American or white enough. Due to the “model minority” myth, we are not seen as a community of color that has also suffered due to racism. Essentially that leaves us no place to feel like we belong or to find support beyond each other. Many AAPI families come from very religious and conservative backgrounds due to tradition, culture, and colonialism. In my Filipino culture, there is a strong emphasis on Catholicism where they believe being LGBTQIA+ is a sin and a family shame. There is also a high degree of privacy within AAPI families, especially those that would cause conflict or unwanted attention. This can be a challenge for parents who love their LGBTQIA+ child and want to learn how to be supportive parents. Support for LGBTQIA+ youth and parents are critical. Parents who are not knowledgeable about the LGBTQIA+ community are ill-equipped to be supportive if their child comes out to them. If there was a support group that had a space for parents of LGBTQIA+ AAPI members, it would help them navigate this moment with folks they already trust and relate with. AAPI families are very private so spaces

that are predominantly non-AAPI are not safe spaces for these families to process and learn. Having a support group specifically for the AAPI community would allow more resources and help for those who need it, allow for collective venting, and provide a more open and understanding environment - ultimately benefiting the family and the LGBTQIA+ member. It is this experience that speaks to why PFLAG San Diego County was committed to creating an ongoing support group for AAPI friends, families, and LGBTQIA+ folx. Over the past year, President Tiffany Gonzalez attended support groups of PFLAG API San Gabriel Valley where she was moved by the stories and love shared within a multi-generational and welcoming place truly representative of the community. Dozens of people attend, all prepared to listen and share openly in a space that respects their confidentiality and the culturally-specific nuances of their journeys. PFLAG SDC hopes to model this success and build that sense of support locally for our AAPI siblings because it is much needed and the community deserves this space. Growing up, I only met a few other AAPI LGBTQIA+ people, and none of them were transgender like myself. It would be immensely helpful if there was a space open to the AAPI community for those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and their families. To have a space centered on our unique needs would help so many youth and families who may be feeling alone in dealing with these issues. Just having an AAPI-centered space is the biggest, comforting factor for any of us seeking community support and belonging. The first meeting for the new PFLAG San Diego County AAPI Support Group is on Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 3:00 PM PST. You can learn more at www.facebook.com/ PFLAG.SDCo. Matthew Encarnacion’s mother, Zaneta Salde Encarnacion, and PFLAG San Diego County Board of Director President Tiffany Gonzalez will be present with other community members to facilitate conversations virtually.


community voices

April 2021 volume 2 issue 10


San Diego API Coalition continued from Page 3

Photo by Rikke Photography

Big Mike and Friends Big Mike Phillips



—Big Mike Phillips is an activist, fundraiser, bartender and photographer who has lived in San Diego for 30 years. He has helped create two nonprofits and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. He has been a photographer for more than 25 years and has recorded our LGBTQ history not only in San Diego but around the country, including three LGBTQ marches on Washington D.C. Contact Big Mike at 619-807-7324, or bmsd1957@gmail.com.


am excited to introduce to you people who live, work, play and do business in our community and city. Learning about people of every lifestyles, talents, and personalities that I think would also be interesting for our readers to enjoy. San Diego has a wonderful diversity of individuals that make our slice of paradise the greatest place to live and enjoy each other’s uniqueness. How did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it? I am a San Diego native and own a fourth-generation home in Mission Hills. My roots run deep in San Diego and I love this city not just for the incredible weather but the diversity it brings. The togetherness you feel in the community when we rally for a common goal, how close we are to the beach as water is my Zen, not to mention how central we are to the mountains and the desert where I can go off-roading with my Jeep. If you want to take a brisk winter ride up to Julian for some apple pie from Mom’s (don’t forget that scoop of vanilla bean), you can. This is the best place to live as we have everything around us, and I am proud to be a San Diegan native. What gets you excited about life? Making others feel great about themselves. I often send out morning inspirational texts to friends that are going through tough times or just need a little boost. I get excited knowing that I can make a difference in someone else’s life, moment, or day. I thrive on positivity and often start my morning with my inspirational song (“Champion” by Carrie Underwood and Ludacris). It gets me pumped and ready to get out there and give it everything that I’ve got. It’s like LET’S GO!!!! As a professional, what makes your business stand out? I am an insurance agent working with the most amazing company out there. Our company is all about family and helping them with their needs. I love that we get to make a crucial impact in someone’s future by ensuring they are set up and ready for anything life throws at them. Our company has been around since the 1950s and is the only union-based insurance company out there. We are here to help prepare you for the future while making it a fun and easy process. I finally found a career where I get to help families/individuals daily. I truly have a smile at the end of the day knowing that I have made an impact for the better! What small act of kindness were you once shown that you’ll never forget? Recently, I have had a wonderful friend take me under their wing and help guide me in the direction of working in a community that I have wanted to help and be a part of for an exceptionally long time. Their guidance means the world to me and I will never take it for granted or forget! Thank you for

(courtesy photo)

Dre Mulder (courtesy images)

all that you continue to help me with. If the universe could grant you one wish, what would you wish for? Inner peace! The ability to just be at peace and calm within my own skin. No anxiety, stress or worry. Just a wonderful calming sense within myself where you feel light and at ease. This would be the greatest gift the universe could ever grant me! If you wrote a book about your life, what would you title it and why? Funny you should ask. I am writing a biography called “The Year Of The Ostrich”! The name comes from the era in which most people either swept things under the carpet or just didn’t acknowledge that things were happening, hence the ostrich sticking its head in the sand. If you had a chance to spend $1 million on yourself, how would you spend it? Of course, everyone says travel, but yes there are so many places that I would love to travel to such as Thailand, Greece, Japan, Tibet and Italy. I would consider this to be investing in myself as each place I visit I would like to dive into their culture to see what they truly have to offer and not just do tourist things. I want to be immersed to truly get the experience and grow from that, whether it be spiritually or mentally. That would be the ultimate investment and money well spent on myself. If you could give someone advice about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them? In regard to my business, please make sure you invest in yourself and your fam-

ily’s future. Be prepared. I never really understood how crucial this was until I became an agent (Agent Mulder...lol). Hobbies, well MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) I would say always protect your face/head and never let them see you sweat. When that bell dings, do not come out swinging, just stand your ground and anticipate your opponent’s next move as they almost always have telling signs. You also need to learn how to take a hit as it is inevitable! If you were granted one superpower for life, what would you choose and why? I am an extremely protective person/ friend that happens to love Greek mythology, so the only answer here would be the superpowers of Wonder Woman. I am 6-feet tall, athletic, and very protective. I mean the “Lasso of Truth” fits perfectly as I have been known to be called uncomfortably honest. In my mind I am already Wonder Woman, but I sure could use those superpowers to go along with my mind set. If you had the opportunity to join someone you love, admire, or wanted to meet over a cup of coffee, who would it be, and what one question would you ask them? I would love to meet up with Ronda Rousey over a green drink as she is an inspiration that brought MMA to life for women. During all the turmoil her life had to offer (loved her book), I would love to know what steps she took to stay focused and keep her eye on the prize. How it felt to retire from MMA and if she anticipated being such an inspiration to women. I think that would make for a fantastic conversation. Facebook: Dre Mulder

Together, we all quickly realized that the San Diego API Coalition’s work had only just begun - and so we moved to consider how the newfound platform could continue as a way for the API community to collaborate, communicate, and advocate collectively. Modeled closely to the San Diego LGBT Community Leadership Council, the San Diego API Coalition began to take a more formal shape last Fall by adopting membership policies and general operating procedures. Today, the Coalition operates with Pacific Arts Movement serving as its fiscal agent and includes over 25 API-serving organizations. Many more are anticipated to join in the months ahead including the Imperial Court de San Diego. Throughout our efforts, the San Diego API Coalition has always understood that our strength was not just in bringing together the voices of our one community, but to consider how our collective efforts could be amplified by working in solidarity and allyship with all other communities who have been subjected to hate, discrimination, and racism. As a result, we have always sought to ask how our communities could combat hate in this instance, but to coordinate in response to hate and violence inflicted upon all marginalized communities. Only by working together, as one broader San Diego community, can we truly shine our light to cast out the darkness that has arisen. We know that this fight will always be ongoing and so our work is only truly beginning - but we stand ready to ensure that the next time darkness comes, for any community, we will meet it head on. As poet Amanda Gorman shared with the world during this year’s Presidential Inauguration, “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it -- if only we’re brave enough to be it.” Let us all endeavor to be that light.

Kent Lee is the Executive Director of the Pacific Arts Movement. Alex C. Villafuerte is the Marketing & Communications Manager at San Diego Pride. Together they serve as co-chairs to the San Diego API Coalition. Learn more at sdapicoalition.org.

community voices


April 2021 volume 2 issue 10


Life Beyond Therapy Michael Kimmel —Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.

Looking Back; Looking Ahead

Do we really want to go back to our regular routine? image by shutterstock.com


t’s been a year since I closed my Kensington office, moved my work online and began working out of my home office. And what a year it’s been. For those of us who are privileged enough to be financially stable and relatively healthy, it’s been 12 months of radical change, loss and boredom. Looking back, it’s been both the saddest year and one of the most revealing. I appreciate the things I used to take for granted: going to concerts, bars, museums and plays; going to the airport and hopping on a plane; hugging friends and family. I hope that my appreciation for these things never goes away. It reminds me of lyrics from a Joni Mitchell song, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?” Looking ahead, I wonder if I will continue to be grateful, as life returns to normal. Remember 9/11? How, for a while, the whole country seemed to come together? I lived in LA during the Northridge Earthquake of 1994 – the epicenter was 5 miles from my apartment – and, after the quake, our whole neighborhood loved each other to the max: helping each other, hugging each other, comforting each other, for a while anyway. Eventually, we all went back to our regular routine. Do we really want to go back to our regular routine? Before COVID-19, like everyone else, I was very busy: working full-time, writing two books (one non-fiction, one fiction) and leading an active social life. I was rarely home: I wanted to get a pet but wasn’t home enough to be a good pet caretaker. I took a lot of weekend road trips and – several times a year – flew somewhere

I’d never been, rented a car and explored. I went to the theater and concerts, met friends for meals (friends and good food go well together) and assumed that my life would go on, pretty much the same, in the future. About a year ago, my friend Marie called COVID-19 “The Great Pause.” She, a wise woman in her late 70s, said “it’s a great opportunity to see who you really are without all the distractions of your life.”

visual clues (a result of tele-health), I became more tuned in to my clients, noticing nuances that I may have missed before. And I started doing more activities alone: going for walks, eating out, taking drives in the countryside… Looking ahead, I want to keep doing these things. I admit that I’m

happy to welcome distractions and entertainment back into my life, but I want to find a better balance. Looking back, I see things that I really don’t need any more that I can let go of. Looking ahead, I see where I want to go next. The Great Pause indeed.

She died in January. Whenever I was tempted to grouse and complain about Life During COVID, I thought of “The Great Pause.” Looking back, I notice how I used distractions in my life to avoid going deeper with myself and others. I rationalized it, telling myself: “I work so hard, I deserve ‘rewards’ (like food, clothes, nice things, vacations).” I thought my life was well-balanced between alone time and social time. When social time went from 50% to 5%, it was quite a shift. What did I want to do with all this alone time? I started to find out. I went through a phase where I was angry and rebellious: “Goddamned COVID! It’s really messed up my life. I can’t wait until it’s over!” Then came the “How am I going to make peace with this?” phase. This was much more constructive than just being pissed off and resistant. I began to find ways to enjoy my own company and was surprised that I was seldom lonely. I talked to friends on the phone and saw my “pod” group once a week. And I did my work. I began to find it more fulfilling than ever: I loved the connections with my clients. I think I became a better therapist. With fewer

EN D H I V. 4 Day Event!

Don’t miss The Center’s 15th Annual Dining Out For Life® San Diego! Join us from Thursday, April 29 through Sunday, May 2 where you can participate safely and Dine Out, Take Out, and Fight HIV. This year’s goal is to support our local restaurants and help them recover from the pandemic and raise critical funds for The Center’s HIV Services and Prevention Programs.

APRIL 29 MAY 2, 2021 thecentersd.org/DOFL Visit thecentersd.org/DOFL for the full list of participating locations.


April 2021 volume 2 issue 10

community voices


Out of the Archives By Lambda Archives staff: Gabrielle Garcia & Dana Wiegand —Lambda Archives, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to collecting, preserving and teaching the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in San Diego and the Northern Baja California region, is located at 4545 Park Blvd., in University Heights. To learn more, stop in or visit their website at lambdaarchives.org.


frikan American Gay Women’s Association (AAGWA) was founded in 1993 as a social, support, and political group where Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender African American women could gather to practice self-love, self-respect, and empowerment. The mission of the organization was the “elimination of prejudice and discrimination within the Gay and Lesbian African American community. Co-founder Cheryl Bradford described AAGWA as a meeting place where African American women could “[share] everyday experiences, political concerns, and community ideas with women in similar situations.” African American women have historically been, and still are, one of the most underrepresented groups in society and the LGBT+ community. When establishing the organization, members of AAGWA voted to use the word ‘Gay’ instead of ‘Lesbian’ to appeal to a wider audience as “most of the women in the organization felt that ‘Gay’ was less threatening than ‘Lesbian’ or ‘dyke.’” A copy of the AAGWA Gayzette from October 1995 — published by Jaynett Wilkins Associates — that now resides in Lambda Archives gives great insight into the discourse of AAGWA. The October 1985 edition of the AAGWA Gayzette examines butch Lesbian stereotypes, provided relationship advice focused on introspection and healthy communication, and published poetry written by local LGBT Women of Color that celebrates the Black identity and directly confronts societal racist ideologies. In the poem “On Being Black,” published in the newsletter, Jaynette Wilkins writes: “Being Black is not a disease, but you often have to prove yourself as a person who has a future and a need to be treated like others, whether you are illiterate or have a degree.” In a 1996 interview with Teresa Hernandez for Gay & Lesbian Times, Tameka McGlawn stated that the underrepresentation of African American women in local LGBTQ organizations, leadership, services, and media directly contributed to Black women in our community feeling isolated, uncomfortable, and unwelcome to the point that she would avoid the Hillcrest area. Racism, anti-Blackness, and misogyny are not issues restricted to heterosexuals; there have been and continue to be LGBTQ racists and misogynists. In a community supposedly built on equality and pride, LGBTQ Black women have and continue to face the highest degree of discrimination and harm. To combat this, AAGWA’s organizational framework of honesty, confidentiality, reliability, fairness, and respect for individuals served to uplift African American Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans women through empowerment and shared experience. Throughout their existence, AAGWA organized and was involved in extensive Black LGBTQ film programming for the community. Starting in 1996, AAGWA, the Lesbian and Gay Historical Society of San Diego (Lambda Archives of San Diego today), and Karibu (African American gay, bisexual, and transgender HIV support organization) presented the first Marlon Riggs Film Festival at Diversionary Playhouse.

History 101

AfriKan American Gay Woman’s Association (AAGWA)

They screened “Black Is… Black Ain’t” (1994) and “Anthem” (1991) and featured special exhibits at the Historical Society. Marlon Riggs (1957-1994) was a Black Gay filmmaker whose work examines Black Gay men’s experiences and unique positionality — most notably the documentary “Tongue Untied” (1989) — using a collage of poetry, performance, dance, song, and moving image. “Black Is… Black Ain’t,” an 87-minute documentary, was Riggs’ final film before passing from AIDS complications at the age of 37, exploring Black experience through the backdrop of Creole cooking. “Anthem,” a 9-minute short, is a defiant and poetic ode to the erotic pleasure and sensuality of being Black and Gay. AAGWA went on to organize their first women’s history month film festival in 1997, however no information is available on the films they screened. At their second film festival in 1998, they screened “The Potluck and the Passion” (dir. Cheryl Dunye, 1993), “Bird in the Hand” (dir. Catherine Gund, Melanie Nelson, 1992), “Maya” (dir. Catherine Benedek, 1992), and “Badass Super Momma” (dir. Etang Inyang, 1996) at The Center. “The Potluck and the Passion” explores racial, sexual, and social politics at a Lesbian potluck. “Bird in the Hand” portrays a jealous and abusive triangle of women. “Maya” tells the story of a single 30-year-old woman who falls in love with a dance instructor, Sacha. “Badass Super Momma” pays homage to and investigates Pam Grier’s blaxploitation films. AAGWA’s third and final film festival was in 1998 where they screened “Lady Day” (dir. Matthew Seig, 1990), “Cruel” (dir. Desi del Valle, 1994), and “Girl Talk” (dir, Judith Cobb, 1998). “Lady Day” is a documentary about Billie Holiday, a prolific Black Bisexual singer. “Cruel” is about a breakup between a Latina woman and white woman. “Girl Talk” is a short about a woman who calls a Lesbian phone sex line. These assortments of films center Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer women’s experiences and

storytelling with an emphasis on Black women. AAGWA’s deliberate choices to highlight indie, women-directed films about Black, Latina, and white LBQ women reflects their commitment to core values of unity and empowerment in ways that challenge the status quo. In a 1996 article, Cheryl Bradford, co-founder of AAGWA, said, “[AAGWA] is the first African American women’s organization that is Lesbian or Gay.” Within a larger trajectory of Black/African-American LGBTQ organizations in San Diego, AAGWA is unique in its gender specificity. After the dissolution of Lesbians and Gays of African Descent United (LAGADU) due to founder M. “Marti” Corrinne Mackey’s passing in 1992, AAGWA along with Friends Unlimited, Karibu, World Beats Center, Spectrum, Shades of Color, Project Unity, and the Imani Worship Center emerged. The shift from an all-gender Black LGBTQ organization with LAGADU to gender specific groups, AAGWA and Karibu (HIV/AIDS support group for Black Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender men), reflects the desire for support and services that address the unique needs and experiences of Black LGBTQ women and GBTQ men specifically, rather than under one organization. However, after the disbandment of AAGWA sometime in 2000, the emergence of Black LGBTQ organizations such as Ebony Pride shifted the pendulum back to an all-gender emphasis. The oscillation between centralization and decentralization as it pertains to intersections of Blackness and LGBTQ identity is an ongoing struggle and experiment. They offer different strengths and weaknesses in structure and dynamic between community members. While community members’ needs and wants are evolving, a consistent element has remained the same between these groups: solidarity and connection to other local organizations, especially Black, Indigenous, POC-led groups. AAGWA’s collaborations with Karibu, Nations of the Four Directions, Daraja,

Afrikan American Gay Women’s Association banner at Pride Parade, 1997 (P506.198M) photo courtesy of Lambda Archives of San Diego

For more information about current Black LGBTQIA+ community resources: San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition Website: https://www.sdblackcoalition.org/ Instagram: https://instagram.com /sdblgbtcoalition/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com /SDCoalition/ Email: info@sdblackcoalition.org The Gender Phluid Collective Website: https://thegpcollective.wixsite.com /thegpcsd Instagram: https://instagram.com /the_gender_phulid_collective/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com /TheGenderPhluidCollectiveSD/ Email: thegpcollective@gmail.com BlacQ Space at San Diego State University (SDSU) Instagram: https://instagram.com/blacqspace/ SD Black Queer Housing Instagram: https://instagram.com /sdblackqueerhousing/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com /SDBlackQueerHousing/ March for Black Womxn San Diego Website: https://www.m4bwsd.com/ Instagram: https://instagram.com/m4bwsd/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/M4BWSD The Transistance Network Instagram: https://instagram.com /thetransistancenetwork BlackLine Website: https://www.callblackline.com Instagram: https://instagram.com/callblackline Phoneline: 1-800-604-5841

APICAP, Glow, Imani Worship Center, Spectrum, etc. follows a lineage of BIPOC networks of support and solidarity formed in part to counteract the racist hostility and harm that white LGBTQ spaces harbored (such as The Center) and homophobia and transphobia in some Black-specific spaces. Collaboration and mutual support are key for working against fragmentation and intra-community harm toward the betterment of and liberation of the most oppressed members of the LGBTQ community.

community voices


GETTIN’ ZIGGY WITH IT Ziggy Zig — Prince Ziggy Zig is an activist, choreographer, dancer, performer, cocktail mixologist, and novice photographer. He is known as an asset to our community and we look forward to reading more of his work.


hen I first began my journey of understanding the Trans experience, I came across a post on Facebook and the person who wrote it was saying how she was receiving negative messages from other Trans women in the community. The encounter happened on a dating app and because a response was not given quick enough, she began to call her things like “ugly” and “fat.” Thankfully, she received an abundance of support from many friends on Facebook, who we all believe otherwise. The person who wrote this post was Pat J. Lutz, otherwise known as “Lust” on the stage. When I read this post, I was astonished to be frank. In my mind, I never thought Trans members would be hurtful or negative toward each other because of the similar experiences that each have and are continuing to face — but then I thought to myself, “Well, why do Gay people hate on other Gay people or Lesbians hate on other Lesbians?” Not exactly the same but I do feel that the question is an important one to ask. I remember my first awakening when I met a Trans person. Urban MO’s was hosting “Country Night” on Thursdays where people were able to learn line dances, mingle, partner dance, and just enjoy the atmosphere. I met many people participating and eventually working the event but there was a specific person who I thought was so attractive, nice, had an amazing smile, and just all-around sweet. We became friends on Facebook and, of course, I did what anyone with a crush did: I stalked him and looked through all of his pictures and posts. While scrolling through his pictures, there was one of him holding a Trans flag and thinking nothing of it, my reaction was, “Oh, that’s cool. He supports the Trans community,” but as I began to keep going through his pictures, I started piecing together that he was, in fact, Trans. I cannot over exaggerate when I say that my mind was blown. My brains were all over the walls. I didn’t know how to handle my feelings because I had never been attracted to a Trans person before, let alone even had very many encounters but I knew that he was a great person, and I did not want him feeling uncomfortable about expressing himself to the fullest. I jumped on Google and just started researching everything! I did not know what I was looking for, but I just began to educate myself so that I could at least start from somewhere. Till this day, we

are great friends, and he has actually been one of the people who I have interviewed for a web series I am creating about understanding the Trans experience because writing one article about everything I have learned and experienced is just not enough. His name is Noah Ray Sundell and I am so thankful to have someone like him in my life. As I mentioned earlier, I saw the post from Lutz and wanted to educate myself on the Trans community. I created a Facebook post calling on our community’s Trans members to see if they would be willing to do an hour-long interview with me so I could ask questions that I felt were important and pertained to the experience a Trans person may go through. I asked each person if I had their permission to record the interview and if they were uncomfortable answering any questions, they need not answer. I was surprised that I got quite the response from people who were interested in sharing their story with me. The amazing people that I had the pleasure of interviewing were: Pat J. Lutz Noah Ray Sundell Bella Donna Rose Baxter Hawk Gemsin Morrone I had the pleasure of talking to all these great people and learned so much about many different aspects of the Trans community and the Trans experience but the main thing I learned and want to emphasize is: Every person has their own experience. Some stories had their similarities, of course, but every story was different. Every person has their own authentic experience when it comes to navigating life and being a Trans person adds an extra layer of challenges and, hopefully, victories! I also picked up some handy verbiage that I had never really heard much until it came to discussing the Trans community. One example is “Clocking or Passing,” which are opposite standards of how a Trans person looks according to the gender they are transitioning to. From what I understand, “Clocking” a person means you can tell by features of the body that the person may have transitioned or is in the process, while “Passing” is to say that their features match the transitioned gender. It’s very dry and offensive phrasing that is still being used unfortunately. Another one I was not familiar with was the “dead name.” This means that when a person decides to change their name to match their new identity, the old name becomes the “dead name.” Apparently, many Trans people experience being dead named by co-workers, families, and even friends who refuse to use the identifying name that the person gave themselves. One thing that we definitely need to understand is that gender roles and gender identity do not have a specific look. No one looks like the perfect human because there are so many shapes, size, colors, physical characteristics, etc. that go into a person’s identity. How a person looks should not matter how they identify themselves. Let us normalize asking people their pronouns and not feeling offended when someone does. Lastly, all of the people that I was able to speak with had a common answer to one question that I asked. The question was, “Would you be OK with a person who you did not necessarily know but genuinely wanted to understand the Trans experience asking you questions as long as they were not disrespectful?” Of course, there is a time and a place for everything, and no one owes you their time, but for the most part, each person would be happy to share their story if the environment and company is safe and the time calls for it. If you have not had the opportunity to get to know a person who is Trans like I did, I encourage you to venture out and educate yourself. You will meet fantastic, strong people along the way and learn so much that you didn’t know, but should!

Understanding the Trans Experience

“You will meet fantastic, strong people”

image by shutterstock.com

April 2021 volume 2 issue 10




April 2021 volume 2 issue 10


Artist Profile:

RD Riccoboni By Patric Stillman

‘What drives and inspires me is a passion for forward-thinking, I pick up on the positive and beautiful vibrations of color, contrast, perspective and spirit that surround our daily lives. I hope that my artwork will trigger inspiration and happiness to create and make the world a better place starting right in our own neighborhoods.’ rectly to Los Angeles. As he established his adult life, he found himself traveling back and forth between California and New York. By 1992, he settled back into his California roots

Brian Sims

‘I’m an overnight sensation, 50 years in the making’


RD Riccoboni (courtesy image)

ne of “America’s favorite artists,” RD Riccoboni has found lasting international success as a painter with his portraits, street scenes and architectural paintings. At 61, he shows no sign of stopping a career that has been his passion for decades. Born in Fresno, California and raised in Redding, Connecticut, Riccoboni’s creative spirit became apparent at the age of 4 when he dipped into his mother’s set of watercolors, which were off limits, and finished the painting she started. Throughout his early years, teachers recognized his talent and encouraged him to pursue art as a career. At 14, he sold his first painting for $57. After high school, he continued his artist practice though at one point he gave in to the pressure from his family that he needed another career to fall back on. For a time, he worked in a bank, and health care, where his co-workers recognized his talent and pushed him to follow his dream. He was grateful to learn useful skills from human resources and customer support that have helped him manage the business side of a career in art. ‘I’ve always been out. I was never in.’

Riccoboni identifies as a cisgender Gay man with the pronouns he/his. Riccoboni recalls sitting at dinner at the age of 4 or 5 with his family. When his uncle jokingly asked who he was going to marry when he grew up, Riccoboni blurted out “Paul Bunyan.” “My uncle spit out his food across the table. My aunt shrieked ‘I knew it!’ And my father grabbed for a bottle of wine. As my mother came back from the kitchen and asked if she missed something, the room was filled with wide eyes and silence,” said the artist. Life wasn’t easy coming out. Riccoboni was bullied at school and found that several members of the family were uncomfortable with him being openly Gay. Five days after graduating from high school, Riccoboni made his way di-

Looking back on some of the highlights of his career, Riccoboni believes the lesson learned time and time again is that artists should never take for granted who they are talking to or who is looking at their work. He recalls meeting Keith Haring on the streets of New York. They discussed their passion for art and Keith encouraged Riccoboni to give back to the community. When he returned to California, he began selling art for AIDS fundraisers, which very few artists were doing at the time. It placed him as an openly Gay artist in the community, which rewarded him with clients who remain friends and patrons to this date. Aubrey Walter, an art historian and publisher in England came across a postcard of his artworks. After two years considering contacting Riccoboni to include him in a catalog of American Gay artists, he reached out to write a book specifically on Riccoboni. It became an international best-selling publication in 1996. The same year that the book was published, a volunteer of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) saw his art at the San Diego Gay Rodeo and soon after, trustees were visiting his studio to review his art. They invited him to participate in their art and rental program for emerging artists. Having representation at such a prestigious museum gave him great confidence in himself and his art. More recently, his painting “We Rise As We Lift Others,” which was a tribute to the ruling on Gay marriage, caught the eye of California’s Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins. The Senator brought the work to Sacramento and it hung in the State Capital before returning to San Diego, where it is hanging in the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. ‘Social media is great for artists’ Though his first love, Paul Bunyan, is only a folk tale, Riccoboni’s portraits often showcase the lumbersexual. The rugged masculine stereotype is redefined by Riccoboni as he playfully paints series of flower bears, beefcake, fantasy city aerial man maps and mythical mermen. “Social media is such a great tool for artists. It’s a great way to get your name out there. I’ve met friends, clients and influential people from across the world that was not possible just a few years ago,” said the artist. “You

We Rise As We Lift Others

Rising Voices BLM March



never know where things might go when you put yourself and your art out into the world.” Last year, a friend saw one of Riccoboni’s portraits on Instagram that looked similar to Brian Sims, the first openly Gay elected official in Pennsylvania history. The friend tagged Sims and soon after, Sims messaged Riccoboni how much he enjoyed the “Flower Bear” series. Riccoboni suggested that Sims would make a great flower bear and after exchanging ideas, Sims became the subject matter for a series of new portraits.

lives and sometimes, pick up an artwork to take back to their loved ones.” Riccoboni recalls that while he had a gallery in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, the tourist groups would come by and the tour guide commented, “You want to make sure that you stop into this gallery to see the works of RD Riccoboni, one of America’s favorite artists.” The tours continued to call him out over the years and the tagline eventually stuck. These days, you can find the works of RD Riccoboni at Studio #18 with the bright yellow door in Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park and at The Studio Door in Hillcrest. Additionally, his art can be found online at RDRiccoboni.com and BeaconArtworks.com; on Instagram @rdriccoboni; and on Facebook @rd.riccoboni.

‘One of America’s favorite artists’ Over the years, Riccoboni has supported himself through his own galleries, which showcased his art. “I always included my LGBT artwork alongside of my other works. I was pleasantly surprised at how accepting people were of my art. It seems that everyone had an uncle or a friend who was part of the community. My work allowed them a safe space to share their

Patric Stillman is a visual artist and gallery owner of The Studio Door. If you are an artist in San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community and would like to be featured in an artist profile, please contact Patric for consideration at patric@thestudiodoor.com.



April 2021 volume 2 issue 10


Q Puzzle


Is ‘Sharing the Love’!

image by shutterstock.com

A new musical video bringing the community together! By Cesar A Reyes


ubaru is kicking off a very creative project to show how the company is embracing diversity in the community. A musical video is the grand idea that will bring together screenwriters, songwriters and local talent with a dash of community extras who will get a chance to be part of the final video. We talked with the folks at Subaru to get more information about the “Sharing the Love” musical.

who you really are and showing up full in your own life,” Blaum said.

How did you guys come up with the idea of the musical? As with many great projects, it all started with an idea over dinner. Randall Blaum, Subaru of El Cajon’s Customer Love Manager, was having dinner with his husband (Bob), who happens to be in the live theater business himself, and he said, “You should do a musical about Subaru!” From that one-off admittedly odd idea, the project was born.

How can the community be a part of the musical? “We have an idea about that… We need 10 extras and one ‘featured’ cast member with lines for the production and we want everyone in the community to have a chance to be a star… For the extras, your readers can send a headshot and a 50-words-or-less Love Promise Statement to us. A Love Promise Statement is about who the person is and what they believe when it comes to inclusion, joy, happiness and diversity. We will select 10 people from the submissions to be extras in ‘Share the Love.’ “For the featured role, and anyone can submit for both the featured and extra roles, your reader would need to submit a short demo reel, or a quick YouTube video so we can see who they are, what they sound like and how they act. Who, knows, maybe we will select two people to be featured!”

Why a musical? Blaum said, “Why not a musical?” and then he laughed. “In this time of COVID and year of most people not doing what they love, we thought, why the heck not, have a huge party, have some fun, and help people in the arts get some money, but more than that, do what they are born to do – create,” Blaum said. “Seriously, though, we wanted to do something that has never been done by any car dealer anywhere that we know of and create some buzz about Subaru and Subaru of El Cajon, because we really are different from the other dealers.”

Where will the musical be screened? “‘Sharing the Love’ will air multiple times on the YurView Channel on Cox Cable. We are working with a local movie theater to also show it there. We are looking at a late-June, early-July launch date.”

About Randall Blaum

Randall has 40-plus years of experience with creating effective sales processes and procedures, training teams to succeed as well as creating marketing, advertising, PR and promotional What is the idea for the musical? events and campaigns that create “A final idea is not cemented in revenue. His revenue-generating place quite yet as we are in the sales processes and team trainpre-pre-production for ‘Sharing ing have been profitably enjoyed the Love.’ We have our director, by hundreds of companies and Stephen Brotebeck, and are in the universities worldwide. process of scouting talent for the During his career before the songwriters and screenwriters as deep dive into the automotive inwell as our cast. Stephen is the Ardustry, Randall worked with and tistic Director of the Okoboji Sumpromoted Honda, Nissan, Madonmer Theatre; Associate Professor na, Paula Abdul, NEC Solutions in San Diego State University’s America, Panasonic, Regal EnterMFA Musical Theatre Program; tainment, Lucasfilm THX, Subaru, and Treasurer for the Executive Chevrolet, and every major film Board of the Musical Theatre EduRandall Blaum (courtesy image) studio in the U.S. as well as The cators’ Alliance. Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research “It will be fun, it will be filled with snappy-peppy Center of the Institute of Transportation Studies musical numbers and it will be about people helpfor UC Davis, General Motors, California New ing each other through tough times,” Blaum said. Car Dealers Association. What is the message you guys want to convey with the video? Be a part of the video; “The message is pretty straight-forward: diversend your submission to sity and inclusion are critical to all of us now and lovestories@suabruofelcajon.com in the future. On top of that, it’s all about being

Fostering Age Reversal Across 1 Six feet under 5 Beginning of “Wicked” 9 Foster 14 Art Deco name 15 “Brothers & Sisters” matriarch 16 Ketchup catcher 17 Palindromic time 18 Like a muscle Mary’s waist 19 George of “The Gay Sisters” 20 Start of a quote from 9-Across 23 River of Flanders 24 Blair, who kissed Gellar 25 “West ___ Story” 27 Away from NNW 28 Wood and more 29 It’s a snap 32 Bergen of “Murphy Brown” 34 Khartoum’s country 36 They serve dictators 37 More of the quote 41 Potent opening 42 “Fortune and Menís Eyes” writer John 43 Fashion designer Pucci 45 Hospital work 46 “Brokeback Mountain” grazing area 49 Karen Walker, perhaps 50 Michael Jackson hit 52 Richard Chamberlain’s “The ___ Birds” 54 End of the quote 59 Look from Snidely Whiplash 61 Iroquoian language 62 Jessica of “ The Illusionist” 63 Chef Des Jardins 64 Long-jawed swimmers 65 Pasolini’s bone 66 Hooded jacket 67 Sapphic poems 68 Where movies are made

Solutions on page 15 QSyndicate.com

Down 1 Poet Levertov 2 Ate away at 3 Pacific formations 4 Blue material, but not porn 5 Pay your share, with “up” 6 Bud of “Harold and Maude” 7 Threesomes 8 Like Shakespeare’s feet 9 Short punch 10 “Aida,” to Gomer? 11 Salad topper 12 Dramatist Eugene 13 Feniger’s main dishes 21 On the fritz 22 He played Lou Grant for MTM 26 Whole shebang 30 “My own private” state resident? 31 Colette’s coffee 33 Result of getting rear-ended 34 The good earth 35 Undercover crack investigator 37 Lesbian couple in “Bambi”? 38 Some biathlon gear 39 Sweaters and such 40 Org. for rim jobs? 44 Peninsula where the rain falls mainly on the plain 46 Thelma’s lady friend 47 “The Importance of Being ___” 48 The Jets, to the Sharks 51 Frida’s husband 53 Penniless persons 55 “Doggone!” 56 NG: New alum 57 Emerald isle 58 Madonna in “Dick Tracy” 59 Motor fuel additive 60 Org. that likes to shoot off


April 2021 volume 2 issue 10

district attorney news Summer Stephan —District Attorney Summer Stephan has dedicated more than 29 years to serving justice and victims of crime as prosecutor. She is a national leader in fighting sex crimes and human trafficking and in creating smart and fair criminal justice solutions and restorative justice practices that treat the underlying causes of addiction and mental illness and that keep young people from being incarcerated.


eciding to install solar panels is an important financial decision. If done improperly, the installation can damage your home leading to costly repairs. Many solar contractors are honest and reliable, but not always. Inevitably there are cheaters working the system and preying upon the unsuspecting. Sometimes they are rogue contractors, but mostly they are unlicensed fraudsters who cut corners or skip town with your money. When considering solar, here’s how to prevent getting scammed:

Chose the Right Contractor for Your Job • Fraudulent contractors typically do not have a contracting license or workers compensation insurance. • Check for a valid licensed or disciplinary actions on the Contractors State License Board website. • For solar installation, ensure the contractor has a valid and active license in the correct classification. The license must be in one of the following classifications: C-46 (Solar Contractor), C-10 (Electrical Contractor) or B (General Building Contractor). • If the contractor does not appear on the CSLB website, does not have a license number, or does not have a license in the correct classification do not hire them. • Be wary of door-to-door salesmen. An honest salesperson will not pressure you into a contract. • Get bids from multiple solar installers. • Ask for at least three references from prior customers and check them out. Know your rights You have rights during the sales process, which are meant to protect you from unscrupulous contractors. • You have the right to receive and read the California Solar Consumer Protection Guide before you sign any contract. This guide contains information about how to evaluate solar energy and what questions you should ask before making decisions.

public service / court news • Always be careful when signing on an iPad or tablet. Don’t be rushed and make sure you receive a copy of what you signed. • If the sales presentation was conducted in a language other than English, you have the right to receive the contract in that language. • You have the right to receive a copy of the Solar Disclosure Document, which shows the total cost for the solar energy system. • You can cancel the contract up to three business days after signing. If you are 65 years old or older, this cancelation period is extended to 5 business days. You should be provided with a Notice of the Right to Cancel. Understand Your Options Before you sign a contract, make sure you understand the type of solar installation you are getting, how your solar panels are being financed and what the overall cost will be. Be wary of any salesperson who says solar energy is free, government subsidized or that you will never pay an electricity bill again. The most common types of solar financing options are: 1. Purchase (with cash or a loan): you will own the system and likely be responsible for any maintenance and repair. 2. Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs): you do not own the system and will be required to purchase all energy generated whether you use that energy or not. 3. PACE Financing: the amount financed will be placed on your property tax bill and may affect your ability to transfer the loan to a subsequent buyer of your home. 4. Lease: you don’t own the system and are obligated for a term of years. Compare the different financing options and conduct your own research on the benefits and consequences of each before entering a contract. If you think you may want to sell or refinance your home later, be sure to understand how the options above could impact your ability to do so. If you believe you have been scammed by a contractor, file a complaint with the Contractors State License Board. As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and the public. I hope these consumer and public safety tips have been helpful. The DA’s Consumer Protection Unit is made up of Deputy District Attorneys, Investigators and Paralegals dedicated to protecting consumers and law abiding businesses from fraudulent or unfair business practices. To report a consumer complaint, you can call (619) 531-3507 or email consumer@sdcda.org.

What to Know Before Switching

to Solar Power

image by shutterstock.com


Dennis LePage, left with his lawyer, assistant public defender, Phil Landry (courtesy image)

Dennis Lepage 1975 Murder Trial Set for May 12 “This defendant intentionally killed Mr. Espeleta” By Neal Putnam


New York man arrested in 2020 for a Gay homicide that occurred 45 years ago in San Diego admitted to detectives he killed the man but claimed it was in self-defense, according to court testimony. A trial date of May 12 was set March 23 for Dennis James Lepage, now 64, who is charged with the Dec. 31, 1975 murder of Alvaro Marquez Espeleta, 28, in his own bed. Lepage again entered his not guilty plea before San Diego Superior Court Judge Eugenia Eyherabide and she set the trial date. Lepage was extradited from New York last August and remains in jail on $2 million bail. Lepage’s admissions to detectives came out in a preliminary hearing March 8-9 before Superior Court Judge Kimberlee Lagotta, who ordered him to stand trial for murder. Deputy District Attorney Lisa Fox said the case was solved by the use of DNA evidence left behind by Lepage in a bloody towel and cigarette butts as well as palm and fingerprints in Espeleta’s apartment in the 3200 block of Reyard Way. Espeleta, a Navy dental technician, died from “asphyxiation due to strangulation,” said Dr. Miguel Losada, who read from the 45-year-old report from the San Diego County medical examiner’s office. Lepage left his palm print on Espeleta’s neck which was made visible through liquid and preserved as evidence, according to Salvatore D’Agostino, a crime lab technician. Lepage left his thumb print on a beer bottle and other prints on the bathroom sink and door, he said. San Diego Police Detective Lori Adams testified evidence collected and preserved included Espeleta’s tooth found on the floor, a bloody towel, cigarette butts, and a broken ashtray which Lepage admitted to hitting the victim with. Lepage was 18 years old at the time and was enlisted in the Navy in San Diego. Lepage was 6-feet-3-inches and weighed 168 pounds at the time, said Adams. Espeleta was 5-feet-6-inches and weighed 136 pounds, according to court records. Espeleta was attacked in bed and his electric blanket was still on when police began processing the murder scene evidence, said Adams. The detective met Lepage in a New York jail and asked him how he met Espeleta. Adams said Espeleta met him in downtown San Diego, saying “I’m going to a party. Do you want to go?” Adams said Lepage told her both men drank alcohol, but no one else showed up at his apartment. Espeleta invited him to spend the night in his bed since he had been drinking, according to Lepage, she said. Lepage told the detective he woke up and found Espeleta naked “on top of

him and humping him.” “He said he grabbed an ashtray and hit him with it 5-6 times,” said Adams. “He stated he was scared and he was a young 18-year-old.” “I woke up and he was trying to rape me. I was defending myself,” said Lepage, according to Adams. “During the altercation, I didn’t know I killed him,” said Lepage to Adams. “He had his ding dong out. He was on top of me.” Another detective told Lepage “you’re a big guy” and questioned his story. Lepage said he was intoxicated at the time. Lepage told detectives the broken ashtray cut his middle finger and he washed his bloody hand in the bathroom. He still has a small scar on his middle finger, he said. Detectives asked him why he didn’t call the police and Lepage said he didn’t know the address. His attorney, Denis Lainez, asked the judge unsuccessfully to dismiss the murder charge and only order a trial for voluntary manslaughter. “It is a clear case of self-defense,” argued Lainez. “Mr. Lepage actually believed he was in immediate danger.” Lainez said police found seven empty envelopes of the medication Darvon and suggested Espeleta could have drugged Lepage with his beer. “Maybe Mr. Espeleta was too aggressive,” said Lainez. “He never consented to that.” Prosecutor Fox described Lepage’s claims as “a self-concocted story 45 years later.” “This defendant intentionally killed Mr. Espeleta,” argued Fox, who added that Lepage applied “heavy pressure” which fractured his larynx in two places. Lepage was discharged from the Navy in 1977 and now has three ex-wives, five daughters, one son, and grandchildren, court records say. Some of them may have been part of 18 people listening to the live-streaming hearing on the Superior Court website. His crime scene prints were analyzed many times and checked with other law enforcement agencies but Lepage’s prints were only taken in 2010 when he was arrested for domestic violence. Lainez told Lagotta that Lepage would not flee if his bail were reduced to $200,000. He said Lepage worked as a warehouse manager and a truck driver for 30 years. Lagotta set bail at $2 million. The first witness was Ricardo Raquel who worked with Espeleta in 1975 and who found his body after the apartment manager let him inside. “The discovery — it’s something you can’t really forget,” said Raquel. “He was a low-key kind of guy,” said Raquel, who added he thought Espeleta might be Gay, but in 1975 that wasn’t talked about very much.

business profile


courtesy image

April 2021 volume 2 issue 10

Brian Bazinet and his crew photos by Big Mike Phillips

Not All Birds Fly, Some Have Wheels Brian Bazinet starts a new adventure with Bird Scooters By Big Mike Philips


ities around the country are popping up with Bird scooters sitting in every neighborhood. It is transportation in a simple, fun, and easy way to get from one place to another. As a kid, I had a scooter but never dreamt it would become a billion-dollar business. Gas scooters were first seen in 1895 and in early 1915, the Long Island-based Autoped introduced their flagship product, the Autoped. This was a gasoline-powered device but marked the first commercial offering of such smaller-framed transportation devices that resemble the modern-day electric kick scooters. This design was popular in New York by traffic cops at the time. The Autoped was eventually taken over by German manufacturer Krupp in 1919 but only continued production for two years. Fast forward to 2021 where electric scooters are the way to get around basically on a pay-and-borrow system that seems to work well. Because San Diego is progressive with green energy and is a tourist and beach town, it seems to have people riding them everywhere. It is a great way to move around and leave the car at home. It was because of the COVID-19 pandemic that Brian Bazinet looked at the opportunity to get involved with Bird Scooter. Brian was working as senior vice president of national accounts with Oneida. He was handling national chains with over 200 restaurants from all over the U.S. along with several cruise lines. The pandemic led to taking a big pay cut at work. Brian decided to try out this new adventure and bought 25 scooters to start with to help make up the loss of his earnings. The scooters took off so well he bought 25 more, then 100 and now he is up to 500. Brian has since quit his job and now owns and operates Bird scooters full time, becoming one of only two LGBTQ+ owners in San Diego and the largest operator in San Diego. One can find his scooters within the entire area

from Interstate 5 to 805 and Mission Valley. They cover all the neighborhoods — Hillcrest, North Park, City Heights, Old Town, Mission Valley, and Balboa Park. The company has more than 100 Bird scooters in Balboa Park for a great experience on all the trails and roads throughout the park. They are seeing more and more people using scooters instead of driving their cars, which is good for our local residents and tourists to be able to have a quick way to get from one place to another. Bird scooters can go up to 26 miles on a full charge. The new “Silver Birds” have tons of rider upgrades, air tires and shocks for a smoother ride and more power for hills and longer distances. They are super easy to ride. All you need to do to get started is download the app (Bird Scooters) or just scan the QR code and open it in your browser, it will just take a minute to set up. Once you have downloaded it and attached your credit card, you are ready to ride your Bird scooter. The charge is 38 cents a minute and speeds are up to 19 miles an hour. They are also equipped with head and tail lights for night riding. You do not need a helmet to ride the Bird scooters if you are 18 or older. In fact, Brian did mention to offer those of you who have never ridden a scooter before a coupon for $5 off your first ride. Just use the code: XMZAYA. The wonderful thing about already having the app on your phone is that it will show you where every Bird scooter is parked in your area. As for where to park them, that depends on what part of town you are in. All around downtown and Sixth Avenue to Third Avenue coming up the hill have “Scooter Corrals.” In those areas, you will find them in a corral and when you are done, try to park them in a corral. If corrals are not present, then park them in a safe place that isn’t blocking a sidewalk or in the road. It’s a little confusing but you will get used to it. Other rules are do not park in bus stops, handicapped areas and 15 feet

from a fire hydrant. As a fleet manager and owner of Bird scooters, it is a lot of work managing the fleet to keep them in top shape and available whenever riders need one. Making sure they are put out in their locations, then every evening the ones that need to be charged will need to be picked up, then they are taken to a warehouse to be recharged, cleaned and repaired if needed. As Brian’s business has grown so large and so fast with 500 Bird scooters, he now has employed 10 full-time employees and has seven trucks to keep the flock ready for you. Any time you see his crew out and about, please say hello, they can also help with setting you up on the app as well as showing you how to ride them. It is extremely easy. If I can ride one, anyone can. In fact, if you can ride a bike, then you can drive a Bird scooter. You will love it once you get going. Please, when you are riding them, pay attention to your surroundings and obey all traffic rules. Safety is a must when you agree to rent a Bird scooter. If you feel you would like a new drop location of Bird scooters, email Brian at brianbazinet@me.com and he will let you know if that space would be functional to put one. As San Diego grows and people get out to enjoy the weather that makes us enjoy living in paradise, more people are going to be jumping on these Bird scooters to get around. It’s nice not having to worry about parking and they’re often easy to find. Brian is having so much fun, staying remarkably busy and is extremely happy with his newfound opportunity that has taken off so well. He feels great knowing he is providing green energy rides that are not only needed for our community but is also very proud to be able to employ a staff and continue to give back to the community he loves. So, if you see a red H on a Bird scooter body, those are Brian’s Birds! Hopefully soon, I might see you rolling by one day.

Puzzle solution

Fostering Age Reversal from page 13



April 2021 volume 2 issue 10


Profile for Lgbtqsdnews

LGBTQ San Diego County News April 2021, Volume 2 Issue 10  

We kick off April honoring the Heroines of the San Diego LGBTQ+ Community by spotlighting two great women, Susan Jester and Cindy Lehman. We...

LGBTQ San Diego County News April 2021, Volume 2 Issue 10  

We kick off April honoring the Heroines of the San Diego LGBTQ+ Community by spotlighting two great women, Susan Jester and Cindy Lehman. We...

Profile for sdcnn0