LGBTQ San Diego County News December 3, 2021 Volume 3 Issue 5

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december 2021 volume 3 issue 5

DEcEmBEr 3, 2021 voLumE 3 iSSuE 5




Place and Time: New Album that Celebrates LGBTQIA+ Diversity in Musical Theatre p14

conversations with nicole Toys for Kids Toy Drive p7


trans talk with connor Pozitively Michael This Holiday Season I Challenge Coming Out During You to Give Back p11 the Holidays or Not? p10

Lucky Pup Fundraiser at The Loft p18


Big Mike & Friends Courtney Johnson p8

liFe Beyond theraPy 7 Steps for More Happiness p9

P PUblIC servICe


oUt oF the archives Dismantling White Supremacy in Archives p13

a note FroM toni December Full of Love, Light, and Magic p6

PalM sPrINgs Pal

The STRUT Awards Recognizing the Community p16

SAn diego gAy men’S choruSS AnnuAl

JINgle! J INgle! gle!

COUrT News

2 Men to Stand Trial for 2020 Hillcrest Murder p19


Cruising in Luxury On The Rhine p12

Carlos and Fernada Client Care Specialists (photos by Cesar A Reyes)

aHF wellNess PrOgraM

A Service for the community offering free hiv/Sti teSting And treAtment By cesar a. reyes



of HoLiDay fESTiviTiES By SDGmc

kicks-off the Chorus’ 37th season and a return to live performances. After a twoyear intermission, San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus will return to the live performances with its annual holiday concert – Jingle! which will debut at the Balboa Theatre Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 8 p.m., with a matinee Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 3 p.m. and is presented by Sycuan Casino Resort. rEaD oN paGE 2

ast month we covered the new AHF/ Out of the Closet complex on Fifth Avenue, just south of The Loft, and how excited we are for it to be here to serve and provide for our community. This month we want to talk about the services that AHF is providing, and why we think everyone should take advantage. AHF Wellness Program is a new service being offered in San Diego and the staff is thrilled, anticipating visits from everyone in the community. The program offers free, confidential HIV and STI testing and treatment, all with just a quick walk-in visit to the facility. I wanted to experience the wellness program first-hand, and I was gleefully surprised. I went on a Friday to become an AHF patient. The encounter was so different from my youthful years – when walking into a clinic to get a STI screening brought feelings of shame or judgement from a clinic staff. I walked upstairs (downstairs is the Out of the Closet shop) and was greeted by Carlos and Fernanda at the front desk who gave me the run-down of how to quickly register to get my visit started. With the use of a URL code and my cell phone I was able to register and give my reasons for the visit and medical history. The program is free of charge so with or without insurance anyone can get tested and be treated if needed. Confidentiality is important and so the clinic gives visitors a non-identifying number the staff uses to call people back when their turn is up.

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COver sTOrY

Jingle! continued from page 1

Under the direction of guest Artistic Director Andy Riggs, SDGMC’s 37th season will kick-off holiday celebrations after a long hiatus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. From traditional holiday favorites with pop influences to new songs written specifically for gay men’s choruses, Jingle! will leave audiences inspired, renewed, entertained and thoroughly in the holiday spirit. “It’s been a long road back to the stage,” said Jeff Heine, executive director of SDGMC. “Not just for the Chorus, but all of the arts. We are so excited to perform on-stage for the first time in two years and to bring San Diego’s favorite holiday tradition back home!” Additionally, Jingle! will feature the holiday sparkle you have come to expect from SDGMC, including choreographed dances, awe-inspiring solo performances and arrangements that highlight the vocal talents of the chorus ensemble. Jingle! opens SDGMC’s 37th season. Ticket sales will go directly to the Chorus’ mission to provide inclusive artistic expression, community engagement and positive social change. After two years of shuttered live entertainment, the SDGMC is emerging to bring music back to that San Diego community. For patrons that cannot attend but would like to support the Chorus through a financial contribution, donations are accepted on their website, www. “Like many arts organizations, SDGMC was able to take advantage of emergency pandemic funding that kept our doors open since March of 2010, replacing revenue we lost from two years of cancelled performances,” noted Heine. “Now, as we reopen and rebuild, supporting the Chorus is more vital than ever to keep the arts in the community alive.” All performances will follow the COVID-19 guidelines put in place by San Diego Theatres. Ticket holders will be asked to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend. Please allow additional time to navigate these verifications and any additional security screenings checks. Tickets are available through and Ticketmaster. Balboa Theatre is located at

Artistic Director Andy Riggs (courtesy photos)

868 Fourth Ave, San Diego 92101 About the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus is a non-profit 501(c)(3) voluntary community chorus. The SDGMC’s mission is to create a positive musical experience through exciting performances that engage audiences, build community support and provide a dynamic force for social change. SDGMC has built a solid reputation for musical excellence and dynamic programming. As one of the largest gay choruses in the world, SDGMC has sung at locations including the White House, the Super Bowl and Lincoln Center. SDGMC is a member of GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses). The organization was formed to build community through music while pursuing musical excellence in performance. For more information on the SDGMC or to donate, please visit

About Andy Riggs, SDGMC Guest Artistic Director 202. Andy Riggs joins us as our Guest Artistic Director for the Fall of 2021 after serving as our Artistic Manager for our virtual concerts All Together Now and Unmuted! during the pandemic months in 2021. Andy brings 15 years of choral conducting and 21 years of piano accompanying and singing to the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. Andy joined this group as a singer for Jingle 2016. Since then, he has served as the Outreach Director, Section Leader, member of the Artistic Team, member of Mood Swings and the SDGMC Chamber Chorale, a soloist, dance captain, and dancer. When Andy is not with the chorus he serves as the Director of Music for Pioneer Ocean View United Church of Christ, the Workshop Coordinator for the United Church of Christ Musicians Association National Board of Directors, an Artistic Consultant/Conductor for the Voices of Our City Choir, teaches private voice and piano lessons, has worked as the Music Director for different musicals, and can be seen performing throughout the city of San Diego for different shows and events. Andy would like to thank all those from the SDGMC organization who have helped make this project a huge success, and he would like to send a special thank you to his husband, Travis, for his unwavering love and support through this process and all of life’s endeavors.

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aHf Wellness program continued from page 1

Luis Patient Care Specialist(photos by Cesar A Reyes)

When my number was called, I got escorted to the back where I met my Patient Care Specialist, Luis, who explained the process to me. After answering some questions and reviewing the information from registering on my phone, Luis was able to determine what testing I needed to have done. Some tests are recommended based on your sex practices. The Patient Care Specialist is well trained to provide very friendly, non-judgmental conversation to help anyone feel more at ease when talking about their sexual habits and feel comfortable with the experience. Tests may include a throat and/or anal swab, urine sample, and/or blood work. If the patient has concerns due to symptoms or a known exposure by a sexual partner, the on-site Doctor will explain treatment options. Another thing patients can do is talk to a patient care specialist about getting on Prep and how to enroll in the program for free. Patients visiting to get regular HIV and STI testing (which everyone should do at least every three months if your sexually active) will be escorted back to the lobby where Carlos gives instruc-

tions on how to check the app for test results. It takes 3 to 5 days for results to be available, and if anything comes up in the test you will be notified and asked to come back for a follow-up visit. When talking to AHF they informed me that the visit should take no more than 20 minutes for the registration and testing so that people can walk-in during their lunch break or throughout their day without having to take time off to get it done. The experience was very refreshing – maybe it’s because I’m older and I’m more comfortable with walking into a clinic to get HIV/STI testing – but there is something to be said about the AHF staff and the atmosphere they create. Having friendly and approachable interaction with staff really helps to make anyone feel assured. Imagine having to show up because you’ve been told that you were potentially exposed and that you should get tested and treated – the right approach can help take away the stigma of feeling dirty or ashamed. During my visit I noticed the same friendly interaction and approach with a couple of other patients and the staff was consistent and reliable in that way.

Having this service offered free of charge is so important, we still need these resources available for folks who are not able to afford a charge or co-pay. And for the people who do have insurance and a primary doctor, the convenience of a walk-in clinic is amazing – because we all know that getting an appointment with a regular doctor can take weeks. If this is your first-time learning about AHF you should know that they have been committed to providing cutting edge medicine and advocacy for patients regardless of ability to pay. They provide advanced medical care for people living with HIV including easy access to specialists, medication, and services that patients need to be healthy and happy. The staff is there to guide you with your visit and to provide the care you need. All of this is possible from funding from the pharmacy, grants, and Out of the Closet. Every purchase made at Out of the Closet contributes to the AHF wellness program’s services. Services are also provided in Spanish with a bilingual staff. Visit them at 3580 Fifth Avenue, San Diego CA 92103 –

december 2021 volume 3 issue 5



december 2021 volume 3 issue 5

december 2021 volume 3 issue 5



december 2021 volume 3 issue 5

a NOTe FrOM TONI Toni g. atkins —Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate. Follow her on Twitter @SenToniAtkins.


ecember is a time for celebrations—and love, light, and the fellowship of family and friends. There is so much to be thankful for and excited about this year, even with the challenges we continue to face and with new ones that have arisen and require our attention as well. This December I can’t help thinking about celebrating Christmas as a little girl – my twin sister and I sharing time with our older brothers and our parents, the special foods like candy canes and the tangerines that were such a rarity in Southwestern Virginia. I can only imagine how exhausted my parents must have been with all the holiday preparations on top of their daily responsibilities. I think a lot of us may be there right now... On top of the gifts that I would wish for everybody-peace, health, and happiness-there are a couple I would also give to all of us, if I could. One is certainty. It would be so nice to be able to say the dangers of the COVID-19 virus will end on 12:01 on January 1, 2022, or when the “X millionth” Californian is vaccinated. But we can’t do that. It wouldn’t be prudent


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

I HOPe all YOUr CelebraTIONs

PUBLISHER Terry Sidie ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Nicole Murray Ramirez 619.241.5672

Are filled with love, light, And mAgic


(image by

and it wouldn’t be safe. We have to keep raising our vaccination rate and taking the necessary precautions until the science makes the coast clear. So, another gift I would wish for us all is patience—especially with each other, as we press forward to protect the public health and return fully to public life. We will beat the pandemic. Goods will flow. Perseverance and patience will help get us through. Often easier said than done, I know, but an important reminder for our times. I know one gift many families are grateful for this year is the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for their children. That means peace of mind at home, greater participation in school and sports, and safer family holiday gatherings—especially when the celebrations include visits with grandma and grandpa. With 2021 coming to a close, I can’t help thinking about all that’s happened this year. I

have shared in the previous editions of this newsletter some of the amazing work we did in the California Legislature in 2021, both in terms of legislation and budget investments. On housing and homelessness, on climate change and criminal justice reform, on higher education and health care — 2021 will be remembered as a year of historic action and transformative change, and I feel blessed that I was able to be involved in these efforts. We know there is more to be done, and we have been getting prepared for the new legislative session that starts in January. A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of giving a “sneak peek” about what’s ahead to the bridgebuilding leadership organization California Forward. While I do want to save some surprises for the new year, a couple of the things I highlighted are the projections that show we should have another very

good year for making smart investments, and the Senate’s new proposal to help first-time homebuyers purchase homes with silent investors. Families get to buy a home, grab a foothold in the middle class, and help build wealth for their future generations. Investors get safe, tax-free opportunities to invest in California real estate. It’s a big move, with lots of potential, and you’ll be hearing more from me as we develop the plan further. But I’m very excited and wanted to share it with you now—kind of like the one gift I get to open early. As tired as we all are and as long as this pandemic has gone on, I hope we can all keep smiling and join in all the festivities this time of year. Whether it’s Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or New Year’s Eve or Festivus, Jennifer and I hope all your celebrations are filled with love, light, and magic. And we wish you a very happy and healthy 2022!

COPY EDITOR Brittany Berger SALES 858.886.9458 STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Big Mike Phillips 619.807.7324 WEB AND SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Adam Martindale Big Mike Phillips Connor Maddocks Jeff Dorta Liam Goff Michael Guadarrama Michael Kimmel Neal Putnam Ryan Ednacot Toni G. Atkins 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 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 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.


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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 and follow him on Twitter @Nmrsd2.


or over 45 years San Diego’s LGBTQ community has held a “Toys for Kids” drive that has benefited dozens of non-profit family/children’s organizations and brought smiles and joy to thousands of children throughout San Diego County and Tijuana, BC Mexico. Many times, the Imperial Court de San Diego and I have been asked why we don’t just support the Marines’ annual popular Toys for Tots drive. In 1975, the Imperial Court de San Diego and I, as the then reining Empress and my Princess Royale Craig Morgan a.k.a. Morgana, our court members and all our local bars (The Brass Rail, The Loft, Barbary Coast, Bradley’s, Chee Chee Club, Diablos, Matador, etc.) collected hundreds of toys for the Marines’ Toys for Tots - San Diego Toy Drive. Well, when it came time for the Marines to pick up the toys, for what I believe to be the first time, they started asking exactly where the donations came from, and when they found out that the hundreds of toys were from the San Diego LGBTQ community, they bluntly said, and I quote, “Oh no, we do not accept toys for children from homosexuals” and hung up the phone. Needless to say, we were in shock and very disappointed. We called back again to try to arrange a pickup or delivery of the toys and they refused and told us to never hold such a toy drive or use their names again or they would take legal action against our organization. Homosexuality was against the law in California till 1976 and as I have said many times, homosexuals could and were committed to state mental hospitals just by the stroke of a pen with the signature of their parents or a judge. We called what seemed like dozens of children’s organizations and a vast majority also said “No”, at least some said, “No thank you” and didn’t hang up on us. I remember the two who gladly accepted our toys: Barrio Station in Logan Heights (Rachel Ortiz) and the Polinsky Children’s Center, a shelter for children, many having been abused. Our LGBTQ Community Center

the hiStory And importAnce of our AnnuAl

“TOYs FOr KIds” TOY drIve also hooked us up with LGBTQ families with children or relatives. So, in 1975 we launched our first “Toys for Kids” toy drive that goes on to this day with toy donation boxes up at many local bars and businesses. Big Mike is always a huge help every year along with JR of We Care and the LGBTQ+ sports leagues. For the last

five years we’ve also included and helped provide toys for Breakfast Republics annual Wounded Warriors Christmas Day Dinner for the children of wounded warriors. Now let me make it clear that years later The Marines’ “Toys for Tots” campaign did start accepting toys from our LGBTQ Community and we wish them well, but our “Toys

for Kids” toy drive looks for different organizations to help including one in North County that helps undocumented families and their children. This year’s “Toys for Kids” toy drive co-chairs are County Commissioner Julia Legaspi (619) 993-8315 and Steve White (a.k.a. Sasha) (619) 358-4130.

Helping, again, is Big Mike (619) 807-7324 and little old me (619) 241-5672. You can also donate money directly to the cause by writing a check to the Imperial Court de San Diego – P.O. Box 33915 San Diego, CA 92163 – In the memo just write “toys!” Thank you all for your continued support and Merry Christmas.


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Photo by Rikke Photography

bIg MIKe & FrIeNds

The second act of kindness is when the organization Impulse San Diego came to one of my balls after the quarantine ban was lifted and they decided to sponsor my balls and now I am in Impulse as an events director.

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

If the universe could grant you one wish, what would you wish for, and why? This answer is highly materialistic but necessary. I would grant that I had enough money to get my feminization surgeries done. Living my life as a woman is my main goal at the moment.


am excited to introduce our readers to amazing and caring people who live, work, play, and do business in our community and city. Learning about people of every lifestyle, talent, and personality who I think would be interesting for our readers to enjoy. San Diego has a wonderful diversity of individuals who 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 was born and raised here in San Diego, I don’t think I’ll ever leave because the weather is perfect and the mid-tempo pace of living here is great to me. sometimes I think about New York City but that’s too fast paced and the weather sucks, ha-ha. What gets you most excited about life? What gets me excited about life is my legacy, I’ve been through so much as a child and young adult that I promised myself I will achieve my dreams and more for my life. In your work, what makes your business stand out and how has it changed your life? I started event planning very early on in my drag career, and now that I’ve built good connections throughout the years my ideas and events can come to life easier and quicker which is such a wonderful feeling. When it comes to “Courtney’s Kitchen”, I am just so grateful that people love and enjoy my food because cooking is so therapeutic to me. I feel like my businesses stand out because I’m the only black Trans woman in San Diego doing what I’m doing and doing it well. What small act of kindness were you once shown that you’ll never forget? There are two acts of kindness I will never forget, one being when I was in the hospital with Covid and a friend of mine started a Go Fund Me page for bills and other things I needed. That small act of kindness helped me so much when I got out the hospital.

If you were given the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world, and were able to take one person with you, where would you go, who would you take, and why? I would go to Ireland. My dream is to retire in a cute little house on top of a big hill of green grass with my partner.


If you had a chance to spend one million dollars on someone, or any group of people, who would it be and how would you spend that money to better them? I would definitely invest in myself and my family. I want to provide for them anything they ever wanted, but also making the smart decision to invest so the money keeps growing.

AkA StrAwBerry corncAkeS

Courtney Johnson (courtesy images)

If you could give someone advise about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them? Stay true to you and be a little selfish so that you don’t lose focus. Loving yourself is so important to becoming the best of who you are. Please write a couple sentences to describe your loving self and how you want to live your best life? Loving myself comes in many forms. One being my health, I’ve stumbled a bit with my health as a diabetic, but I’ve learned that if I want to continue loving myself and living my best life, I have to treat my body like a temple. Second would be rewarding myself when I accomplish things, that way I know I deserve it. Gratitude is so important in each of our lives, what are you most grateful for, and how do you pay it forward? I’m most grateful for the people that support me and who I support, having a great community big or small can do so much in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for others, so for that I am grateful. Instagram @Strawberry_Corncakes


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“When you’re happy, you don’t need conflict” 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


ouldn’t you like to get the gift of happiness this Christmas/Hanukkah/ Kwanza? Wouldn’t that be better than something you can buy in a store? If this sounds good to you, read on… At the risk of being obvious: the happier you are, the less conflict you’re likely to create in all of your relationships. When you’re happy, you don’t need conflict. Conflict is an often-unconscious way of expressing unhappiness in relationships with friends, lovers, relatives and colleagues. So, here’s my holiday gift to you: seven ideas (or “steps”) to bring more happiness and less conflict into your life: Step 1: Let go of your stories. What we tell ourselves is self-fulfilling. If we keep telling ourselves the same stories over-and-over, we are doomed to repeat the same results. If you’re willing to release those old stories about yourself and the people in your life who’ve “done me wrong”, you’re opening the door to a lot more happiness. Step 2: Forgive people: I’ve held a lot of grudges in my life and none of them did me any good. While I was angry at people who I thought treated me badly and should be “punished”, they were off having fun without me. Who suffered? Here’s some good news: you don’t have to know how to forgive, just be willing. Even if you are so mad at the offender that you’re spitting bullets, if you’re willing to forgive them, it’ll start the ball rolling. Step 3: Embrace peace/release drama. For some people, drama gives them the illusion of feeling “alive”. These people are confused (or very, very young). Drama is not aliveness, it’s a substitute for aliveness. Aliveness is a life full of opportunity and possibilities. Drama sucks the energy out of you and is often a diversion from looking at deep (old) pain in your life. Face your pain, clean it up and reduce your drama. Step 4: Learn more sophisticated ways of functioning. Are you and your friend/boss/mate playing out the same old routines over-and-over? Is it working? I didn’t think so. As we age, the Universe/God keeps showing us what we need to let go of in order to embrace something better. It’s like the Buddhist idea of the empty

7 StepS for

MOre HaPPINess aNd less CONFlICT rice bowl: if you’re holding on to stale old rice in your bowl, there’s no room for fresh, new delicious rice. You’ve got to dump that stale, moldy old rice so there’s room for something new and wonderful. Scary? Sure. Productive? Absolutely. Step 5: Polish your rough edges: We all have areas where we’re not so smooth or high functioning; start to notice them. If you really want to discover your “rough” spots, ask your closest friends: they probably see them much more clearly than you do. And don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect, instead, just notice your flaws and be willing to change. Start with compassion – not punishment – for yourself. Step 6: Empty yourself. Often our mind feels so full of thoughts that are hard to let go. These thoughts can keep us from falling asleep or enjoying time with people we love. Emptying yourself lets you dump all that mental junk. Try quietly and peacefully telling yourself, “I am empty” and see where it takes you. Step 7: “I don’t need to know”. I tell myself this a lot! Many of us think that more information will bring us happiness. In fact, you will be happier if you can let go of having to “know” and “be right”. Wanting to be right is the cause of many - if not most - emotional conflicts. Information is useful, but only if you use it in a way that works for you and the people in your life. Too much information can actually be unhelpful. Try saying “I don’t need to know” and feel how freeing it is. Encourage your friends to try it too. You may all be surprised to find out that it’s true. May these seven “gifts” bring you more happiness and less conflict in your life. Now, and always….

in your life

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Join the NEXUS Study Now enrolling participants! Earn compensation. NEXUS es un estudio de parte de UCSD que cubre diferentes temas entre hombres latinos quienes tienen sexo con hombres.

NEXUS is a study being conducted by UCSD which focuses on different topics among Latino men who have sex with men.

Cada participante recibirá una compensación de hasta $360 si deciden inscribirse y completar el estudio.

Each participant will be compensated up to $360 if they choose to enroll and complete the study.

Interested? / Interesado?

Contact / Contact a Stevie Juarez at 619-800-4252

The San Diego LGBT Community Center 3909 Centre Street 619-692-2077


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Connor Maddocks —Connor Maddocks has been a civil rights advocate in the San Diego transgender community for years. He does trainings on legal and personal transition information. He continues his work, even though he is now retired. Contact Conner at


he holiday season is upon us. A time of year with so much going on. For the Trans and Non-binary community it can also be a time of great stress. Family gatherings, holiday shopping, financial stress and more. Are you preparing yourselves to weather any of these experiences? It can also be a time of joy. I am hoping that the latter is true for all of us. Coming out to family. I have heard some real horror stories about the holidays with a family who was not accepting, not supportive and not understanding. As we travel through our own journeys, we need to be prepared to handle these situations as they arise. Something I never recommend is coming out to family during the holidays. It could be great and everyone is happy and supportive of you, and that would be awesome. It could also go the other direction and turn into a disaster. For example, sitting at the dinner table and the scenario goes something like this: You have been having a fairly nice day with the family. Everyone around the table is talking about their lives and family milestones. You are dying to get it out and just tell them, so you say something like, “please pass the potatoes… oh by the way I am Trans”. The entire room becomes silent, the potato passer drops the bowl, your parents and siblings and everyone else looks at you like you suddenly have two heads. Whoa this is uncomfortable. You are asked to repeat what you said and now you are probably shaking and scared. You say it again and you can see the comprehension of your statement slowly sinking into their brains. Plus, you didn’t get the potatoes you wanted. Now the questions


dUrINg THe HOlIdaYs Or NOT? begin, parents are upset, siblings angry, and grandparents are dumbfounded. This is not a good way to come out nor a good way to enjoy your holiday dinner. You don’t want this to be your holiday legacy. Whether you decide to come out during the holidays or some other time of year you need to be prepared for any reactions your family might have. Of course, we always hope for the best that they will all be wonderful and positive about it. That does happen quite a bit, but sometimes things go south quickly. You always need to be ready for that. If you are planning to do it in person, then figure it out ahead of time. What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? Some folks write a letter and let the family read it while you are there. Or you read it to them. Some write a little speech ahead of time and follow that. Or maybe you just want to say it out loud and then discuss. Do you want the entire family present? Is it maybe just your parents? Perhaps tell a supportive sibling who can be there with you. Maybe you could bring some type of literature for them to read afterwards, a book or an article you print out. So now the deed is done; if they are kind and loving towards you, congratulations, you did it. If they are not happy about it, you need to figure out before you go what

your plan of action will be. Some folks want to tough it out and try to get them to understand and this may or may not be successful. If you live with your parents be prepared to live with possible hostility towards you. It is always an important strategy to have a lifeline. Have a friend or mentor on stand-by. Maybe they are outside waiting for you. Maybe they are just a phone call away. Is there a support meeting you can go to that night? You need to plan to keep yourself safe, mentally and physically. Have a crisis line number handy. Other ways to come out is to send a letter or email fully explaining who you are and what it means to you. Speaking from the heart is always the best way to talk to family. Try not to be angry about the past and don’t put blame on anyone. The more positive you are about your wonderful news, can certainly have an effect on those you tell. Often the waiting for a reply can be torture, so be prepared to wait. I have heard of some folks creating a video and others find a video to send with their email. It’s never a bad idea to be creative here. Now that you have told them, decide who else you want to tell, and again choose wisely how you will tell them. Often grandparents can be the most accepting or maybe a favorite aunt or uncle. If you are very close to them, they might

be a good choice to tell next. Remember it is your right to tell who you want, when you want, and ask your family to respect that. If your family is not accepting, please remember that it doesn’t mean they won’t come around down the road. I always tell my Trans and Non-binary folks to never slam that door completely shut. I have seen family come around many times. It might take a few months or a few years, so don’t give up on it. Remember that this is your life and you have every right to live it as authentically as you choose. It is your right to be happy and healthy. It is your right to not live your life just to please others. When I first transitioned it was very difficult for my young adult children. We had just gone through a divorce, and they were still angry about that. I wrote them a letter as they were 3000 miles away from me. I waited for 6 weeks to hear back but never did. I finally did it over the phone and they were not accepting, and they didn’t understand. Over time I just kept in touch with them over the phone, I visited once a year. They all got married and with each passing year they slowly began to understand, they did their own research and discussed it together. It took about 5 years before things started to get better. I do not know exactly what changed their hearts

and minds, and I don’t need to know. I was blessed with 3 amazing young ladies who didn’t shut me out completely, who made their decisions in their own time and space. I did whatever I could to make it easier for them, but I did what I needed to do to make myself happy and whole. I did not disrespect myself or my needs. I was firm about who I was and asked for respect back, which I got. Now I have the most amazing relationship with them and the 8 grandchildren they gave me. They made the decision to tell the kids about me, in simple child explanations. All of my grandchildren know and defend me to anyone who dares disrespect me. So, you see, it is possible and very likely that this will be your future as too, well maybe not 8 grandkids. So be positive, DO YOU, and no matter what, you will always have community around you for love and support. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season. May it be shared with loved ones and family and chosen family. May you all feel the love of the season.

CRISIS LINE INFORMATION: 1. Call 911 or the San Diego Crisis and Access line at 1-800-479-3339 2. Trans Life Line 1-877-565-8860 3. Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386


thiS holidAy SeASon i chAllenge you to

gIve baCK

POzITIvelY MICHael Michael guadarrama — I am a 30-year-old Latino male, living with HIV (undetectable) and living my best life. I wanted to write and help others living with HIV realize that they can also achieve living a healthy life, being in love, and being successful.


elcome to December! San Diego weather is finally starting to get chilly and there is nothing better than having someone special to cuddle with. Watch out boys… This is when boys are looking for someone to take home for the Holidays! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family, friends, and getting stuffed! We have so much to be grateful for every day, I hope you tell all who you are thankful for around you how you feel more than just during the holidays. I am extremely grateful for all of you; you are a part of this community and LGBTQ+ rainbow. I am grateful for our physical, mental and spiritual health, and healing as the last couple years have not been easy

(image by

– yet we have managed to survive and thrive. I cannot help but reminisce about and be grateful for all those beautiful souls who we lost; without them many of us would not be here or know what love is or know how to love. And I am thankful for my family and my friends, those who have served for our freedom and our rights, and for all the positive energy and love collectively put out into the world. With Christmas and the other Holidays fast approaching, y’all better get to decorating and posting all those fabulous sights on social media! I am ready to see what all of you creative people come up with. Remember that this holiday season there are those less fortunate than us and many kids in our own community who are in need. Please think about donating, sponsoring, or just loving those who are less fortunate. Choose the organization or family that calls to you and your heart and remember that you can bring a smile and a

warm meal to someone who will be forever grateful for your generosity. I challenge you to do something for someone else this holiday season that will make a difference. Let’s share the love! Talking about being grateful and sharing the love. I want to thank the wonderful staff at AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)! I thought I had a good doctor before starting care at AHF, but I was so wrong. Dr. Zweig has been a godsend and I cannot thank him enough for all of the knowledge he has, his willingness to educate me and help me feel comfortable with change, and for giving me a better understanding of what my numbers mean. When I started going to AHF I was on Atripla and now I am on Dovato. I am happy to report that after my last labs my CD4 count has almost doubled. My body is responding great to the medicine and I cannot wait to see what my next labs show. If you are seeking a new doctor, medicine,


december 2021 volume 3 issue 5

or just curious how great they are at AHF, give them a try. It will not hurt to change it up a bit and who knows you might love them as well. Even if you are not HIV POZ this is a great place to come get your HIV testing, STI testing, and getting on or maintaining your PREP. If you have questions about any of their services, you can read the article in this issue of LGBTQ San Diego County News about the services they offer and how easy it is for you to get them. AHF just moved into a beautiful new space at 3580 Fifth Ave., near The Loft. Also make sure to stop by the wonderful thrift store below AHF – Out of the Closet is great! Not only do they have wonderful items and great prices, 96 cents of every dollar spent there goes to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV/AIDS programs serving in the U.S. and abroad. They provide top HIV medical care to everyone regardless of their income or ability to pay. Stop by and say “Hi” to their fabulous store manager, Peter. You can also read the exposé on this new, fantastic shop in our Vol. 3, Issue 3 from November 2021. In my last column, I mentioned that I had met someone wonderful. Things are going great, and we are enjoying getting to know each other. I do not recall the last time I had smiled, blushed, cackled, and cried so much from having so much fun. It’s funny how things can change so quickly for two people when they finally cross the right paths. I never expected that I would find someone so different, so intimate, so intuitive, and so perfectly raw and flawed. I feel like, in the past, I have always wanted men I have met to be perfect and

complete opposites to me. I wanted them to be masculine, tough, strong, and alpha, but as I get older I have come to the realization that that is far from what I need. I need someone who is more in touch with their feelings, who is able to receive love, and who can give and share it. It has been a real eye-opening experience that it is okay not to be perfect. It is alright to not be okay all the time. We both have had a very rough few weeks and we have had times of just radio silence, but we both know we are there for each other in a blink of an eye. The beautiful aftermath from hard situations is that wounds heal, hearts become stronger, and light and love get reenergized. I am looking forward to seeing where this new and exciting adventure will go and to see myself evolve from a thorn infested rose bush to a beautiful blooming flower that gives life and a glimmer of hope to others. By now, I think you might have picked up on a pattern – giving back. This holiday season I challenge you to give back and pay it forward. I challenge you to make a difference, no matter how small it might be, do it! Make someone smile, give someone a compliment, buy someone a coffee or a warm meal, or adopt a family or child for Christmas, and share the love – your abundance and light. It is so simple to make a positive impact on someone else’s life. You will be surprised how generous the universe will reward you. Until we meet again, stay blessed my friends.

Much love always, Michael.

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december 2021 volume 3 issue 5


adam Martindale —Adam Martindale is a luxury cruise travel agent and specializes in Wine, Food & LGBTQ group cruises & tours. Adam has over 30 years of experience, working for 4 major cruise lines, luxury hotels and resorts as Food and Beverage Director. Adam is a board member with San Diego ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors). Adam specializes in Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises and has been recognized as a “Cruise Connoisseur” Agent for his volume of business with Oceania Cruises. Contact him at 206-399-2138 and amartindale@


recently returned from a fantastic cruise on the Crystal Debussy, which sailed from Amsterdam to Basel (well not all the way, but we will get to that later) The ship is beautiful. Crystal Debussy was built to sail the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers and debuted in April 2018. Crystal Debussy holds only 106 passengers with Butler service. Cabins range in size from 220 to 759 square feet and boast walk-in closets and first-inindustry king beds. From the time we embarked the vessel until the time we reluctantly departed, we were greeted by smiling, accommodating Crystal crewmembers who could not do enough for us throughout the cruise. We were welcomed in Amsterdam by the Guest Service Manager and a butler with a glass of champagne, who then led us to our suite to check us in and explain the suite amenities and functions. The suite was very spacious and has a panoramic balcony window which is operated by a wall switch. It completely lowers to enable you to lean on a window ledge and enjoy the view of the passing towns and castles along the Rhine. There are three categories of suite accommodation on Crystal Debussy. Located on decks two and three, all of the suites have outside views via a panoramic balcony window. THe SuITeS avaILabLe are aS FoLLoWS: Petite Suite – 188 sq. ft. (two guests) River Suite Deluxe – 237 sq. ft. or 253 sq. ft. (two guests) ( This is the suite we stayed in) Two-Bedroom Crystal Suite – 759 sq. ft. (four guests) Each suite includes an insuite bathroom, writing desk/ vanity area, in-suite safe, coffee machine, wall-mounted flat-screen television and a king-size bed. Butler service is also provided to help in unpacking/packing (on request), assisting with the arrangement of excursions and an in-suite hors d’oeuvres and

canapes service. The ship has plenty of facilities for you to enjoy during your cruise. The indoor pool has a retractable roof which is perfect when the sun is shining, while the Palm Court Lounge becomes the hub of the ship during the evenings, with guests taking a seat to watch musical performances and relax with drinks from the bar. This area is made

even more special thanks to its domed-glass roof, which means you’re effectively sitting under the stars once the night draws in. Other facilities include a library, a fitness suite, and a spa. It is also equipped with kayaks, jet skis, and electric bikes which you can hire from reception should you wish to explore independently.

DINING Crystal Debussy offers three dining venues. The ship’s main restaurant, The Waterside, provides regionally and internationally-influenced cuisine. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet-style, while dinner is served at your table on an open-seating basis. The quality of the food was superb. Great selections on the buffet each day with varied breakfast and

lunch selections available. The ship’s second restaurant, The Vintage Room, is a must for wine enthusiasts and serves themed cuisine with locally selected wines. An intimate venue with space for just a few guests, The Vintage Room is reservationonly (please ask at the time of booking). The ship also has a Bistro location, where you can pick up light-bites such as pastries and snacks throughout the day. You can also order breakfast daily after the restaurant closes until 11am as well as a Tapas style dinner was served on selected days of the week (reservations required). Room Service is available at all times. The menu is located on the interactive TV. The crew knew our names by the time we set sail! We enjoyed the fact that we were able to dine when it suited our schedule and that we had the option to dine alone or with others. The food was incredible and again the service outstanding, with staff remembering our likes and dislikes very quickly. Entertainment varied, with Jed (from Liverpool) performing each evening on the Piano and keeping everyone entertained enthusiastically with trivia and other activities. We had guest speakers with varied topics, a gifted duo who sang and played the piano, so truly something for everyone. Shore excursions were a delight, lead with well educated, informative guides and small groups which allowed for an excellent experience. The Crystal busses and drivers were luxurious, roomy and provided complimentary WIFI. We visited Cologne (Koln), Germany, Koblenz am Rhein, Germany, Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany, Mannheim, Germany and were supposed to sail to Strasbourg, France and Basel, Switzerland but did not make those ports due to low water levels. We were in the “low water” season and initially were worried about the lack of information shared with us on what changes would be made to the itinerary. As we sailed, we realized that Crystal’s objective was to keep us onboard and stay true to the itinerary as possible. The Captain and Hotel Manager were fantastic, informing us each evening about any possible alternations to the itinerary. We stayed overnight in Speyer, Germany and were bussed on the luxury Crystal bus to Basel. Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend you put a Crystal River Cruise on your bucket list for 2022 or beyond OR contact us now to book with these fantastic offers: Crystal’s best stateroom or suite available at the time of booking is yours on 7-night River cruises with fares from just $3,499 per guest. Solo travelers can also take advantage of Zero Single Supplement on a Danube River cruise on Crystal Mozart and travel in a Dedicated Solo Suite with no single supplement.


december 2021 volume 3 issue 5


Q Puzzle


ryan ednacot —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


white SupremAcy in ArchiveS


his internship has been an interesting experience as post-pandemic protocols have made it entirely remote. This is commonplace today, as technological advancements have enabled varying knowledge institutions alike, to undergo digitization processes which have been fundamental in ensuring the preservation of rare and fragile items, as well as providing expanded access and education. Nowadays, anyone seeking to learn about their culture or a particular community’s history, can look no further than their laptop to conveniently access an archive online, transcending the spatio-temporal barriers of geographic location and operating hours at brick-and-mortar institutions. This is the case at Lambda, as processes of digitizing over 200,000 photos have been underway. So, for those of whom have been itching to visit since the pandemic, you can take full advantage of this through Lambdas Flickr. The capacity of digitization today encompasses every conceivable item that physical institutions hold—flat objects, microfilm, audio, video, negatives; to larger, 3-dimensional, artifacts such as trophies, full-scale statues, and you guessed it—ceramic lions. As these innovations in 3D scanning are becoming standardized globally, this has manifested in the unprecedented accessibility of histories, art, and knowledge today. Digital archives are especially useful for individuals requiring safer ways of access, such as closeted individuals interested in learning about their local community’s LGBTQ history, but do not necessarily feel comfortable navigating the physical spaces. On top of that, physically visiting these institutions is increasingly more fun and engaging than ever before. The Art in Island Museum of Manila in the Philippines, for example, calls on visitors to be interactive with massive scale 3D paintings that, when photographed at certain angles, produce optical illusions, allowing you to tear a piece of Edvard Munch’s Scream; no longer are you forced to simply dream about slaying Holofernes, you can be there to assist Judith in slay-

A Filipinx person marching in the 1996 San Diego Gay Pride continuum. (photos courtesy of Lambda Archives of San Diego)

Lambda’s newest intern, Ryan in their workshop

ing! While this has globally transformed the way we access knowledge, my time of sifting through digital archives online in hopes of learning about my own community’s history—as a Queer and Transgender Person of Color, has been less than fruitful. As a diasporic Filipinx immigrant, I was looking forward to what I envisioned as a journey in uncovering a rich history of Philippine culture and its Queer community in San Diego. After all, Filipinos make up the third largest cohort of Asian diasporic communities—19% of the total U.S. Asian population, with San Diego alone accounting for the second largest population of Filipinos. With outward Philippine migration averaging at 1 million annually, more Filipinos are leaving than staying. As a widely dispersed group, with a local presence, I found it puzzling how impossible it was to locate a single digital collection dedicated to my community. If digitization has revolutionized our access to cultural materials and knowledge, how does that benefit someone like me when I can’t find it? This is not actually the case I learned. In October, one of my assigned tasks was to create a social media post on Filipino-American Heritage Month. I had immediately remembered a funny photo, I was tagged in on Instagram a few years back that I wanted to incorporate, of a Filipinx person holding a sign that read “Pilipino Pride Porever”. Fortunately, I was still tagged and upon locating it, I had noticed the caption credited LASD and was retrieved from our digital collection. This came as a huge surprise, as I had only considered this photo

after searches of “Filipino”, “Filipinx”, “Philippines”, and “POC” yielded zero results. Hell, I even went as far as looking up “Pinoy”, “Pinay”, and “AzN” to no avail. Even the generalized “Asian” resulted in a mere two photos. Then I realized the fobby play of letters, the switching of “p” and “f”, and upon searching “Pilipino”, there it was—perhaps my favorite photo I have come across and been able to identify with endearingly as a Queer Filipinx myself. This prompted a full-blown investigation on the access of minority identity groups. After conducting a series of searches across multiple institutions, alongside a visit at SDSU’s special collections, it became abundantly clear that the problem wasn’t non-existence—collections of “Pilipino Pride Porever” type photos obviously existed. The problem was discoverability. After meticulously navigating in and out of dozens of other local, state, academic, and federal digital institutions, it became evident that the issue surrounding discoverability or findability—was rooted in whiteness. And it is no wonder when thinking about organizations that have specifically mobilized around documentation from Mukurtu, Documenting Ferguson, The Transgender Oral History Project, Black Archives, The Tretter Collection, to Lambda Archives—communities whose histories and memories have been destroyed, silenced, appropriated and overshadowed by the legacies of coloniality that remain pervasive today As part of a deliverable outcome for my internship, I have decided to create a zine on this. My zine “Dismantling white Supremacy in Archives”, will be available mid-December and touches on archival interventions currently being deployed within community organizations, such as Lambda Archives, whose mission to uplift, preserve, collect, and share the underrepresented histories of our LGBTQIA community—requires addressing the systemic and epistemic impact of colonization.

aDvicE from a friEND acroSS 1 cassini of A-line dresses 5 dooryard bloomer, for whitman 10 Bushy do 14 fielder’s call, to Bean 15 contest venue 16 witty coward 17 Start of advice from a friend 20 cause anguish to 21 Boneless cuts 22 hamlet, to fans? 26 word after “dear” 29 “do” in “the Sound of music” 30 Broadway opening for a lot? 34 long sandwich, for short 35 Aroused in bed 37 physicians’ org. 38 Bear 40 Solidly behind 41 She’s george 43 more of the advice 45 end of the advice 47 drenching rain 48 “three’s company” actress 49 Butch neckwear, perhaps 51 Broadway ticket souvenir 52 figurative friend of gay men, and source of the advice 57 Broadway slave 58 “damn yankees” song 59 “why should ___ you?” 61 rod attachment 62 ewing matriarch, on “dallas” 63 Boy of kahlo’s country 64 make messy 65 Queer coins 66 “Quills” subject

Solutions on page 19

DoWN 1 cut 2 cukor’s “A ___ of her own” 3 “lord of the rings” singer 4 lynn redgrave’s “___ girl” 5 of milk 6 gershwin of “of thee i Sing” 7 Sportscaster Berman 8 offspring of a queen 9 Bedside table money 10 Bend over and grab them 11 Baudelaire’s liver 12 musical based on “la BohËme” 13 ford contemporary 18 egypt and Syr., once 19 one to rohm 23 roll with the punches 24 o-o-o-o-okla., once 25 discharge, among soldiers 26 former leader of Syria 27 Elevation with a flat top 28 Sport of the chicago Sky, for short 31 peter of “Say uncle” 32 colette’s love 33 husband and husband, for example 35 Butler’s “___ for Strings” 36 eat with enthusiasm 39 Swiss soldiers, in wwii 42 Sweetie-pie 44 gets hot 46 will subjects 50 South Beach souvenir 51 Bit of mistletoe 52 deity of debussy 53 lines from lesbos 54 yellow Sea feeder 55 “east of eden” director kazan 56 Split 57 place for tats 60 Ballerina’s perch



december 2021 volume 3 issue 5

This holiday season shop locally. Here are some options for your gift giving!

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EllaRose Chary and Brandon James Gwinn (courtesy image)

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usical theater is often regarded as being “so gay”, but EllaRose Chary and Brandon James Gwinn feel that despite that, it’s often not very “queer.” The writing team behind the 2021 Richard Rodgers Award winning musical, TL;DR Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix, aim to change that. Their new album, Place and Time, is shining a spotlight on women, queer POC, theys, enbys and trans folk. “We are here too,” says EllaRose Chary, “and like everyone else, we experience a range of feelings and circumstances that aren’t all centered on our trauma or our otherness.” Place and Time features Broadway artists from under-represented segments of the community singing about emotions that all can relate to. The songs are fun, flirty, emotional and nostalgic; sung by characters who are revvedup, spiced-up and sometimes fed up. “We hope listeners will relate to the characters and maybe even see themselves reflected in the canon,” says Brandon James Gwinn. Starring Tituss Burgess, Amber Gray, Telly Leung, Tony Award Winner Daisy Eagan and an all-star cast of Broadway performers, Place and Time will be available on Spotify and Apple Music on December 3. “Even as a young gay man, I always had problems fitting

neatly into the cis and straight culture at large,” admits Brandon James Gwinn, who identifies today as queer and gender fluid. EllaRose Chary agrees. “There are a lot of us who don’t feel beholden to any one label or identity. We exist on a spectrum. A big part of my coming out has been trying to decipher what part of the LGBTQ puzzle I fit into.” Place and Time is a culmination of Chary and Gwinn’s musical and gender awakening. Developed over ten years of working together, songs are mostly queer-themed with emotional surges that are character and story driven. They include “Always Heard, Never Seen,” written from Ella’s own experience of being a woman in queer spaces dominated by cis white men and “Why I Chose,” about feeling somewhere in the middle between male and female, much like Brandon’s real-life story. Daisy Eagan (Tony Award winner, Girls) sings “Gal Who Gets The Gig”, a gender bending, feminist, musical theater charm song and Tony Nominee Amber Gray and Amy Jo Jackson (The Brass Menagerie, Company XIV) sing the album’s cover track, a lesbian love duet. Throughout the album, there are solid influences from folk, as well as protest songs, pop-rock radio and 70s era

tracks. Also featured on the album is “The Things I Don’t Say,” the first song Chary and Gwinn ever wrote together, sung by Telly Leung (Aladdin, Glee). EllaRose Chary and Brandon James Gwinn are the Richard Rodgers Awardwinning and Drama League nominated writing team who have received grants from NAMT and Anna Sosenko Trust. They are Dramatists Guild Fellows, Ars Nova Uncharted, & Rhinebeck Writers Retreat Triple R Residency alums and were recently featured in NAMT’s 33rd Festival of New Musicals. Their shows have been produced at City Center, Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, Theatre C, The Tank, UArts’ Polyphone Festival, All For One Theater, Prospect Theater, and more. They created Tank-aret, a monthly cabaret series at The Tank featuring underrepresented artists. Their immersive, soundscape driven theatrical experience THE SÉANCE MACHINE was part of the Tank’s 2019 ObieAward winning season. Place and Time was recorded in New York City, at John Kilgore Sound and Recording, with engineers M.P. Kuo and Jabbath Roa and at MPK Recording and Teddy Kitty Studios. It is co-produced by Kimberly Hyacinthe. Visit

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mong many things, our community is known for its substantial LGBTQ+ industry full of so many amazing individuals doing amazing things. These are integral people in our community and they work very hard yearround in our local businesses to make us happy. From our hot cup of morning coffee, to our amazing nights out with friends, getting the pleasure of being entertained by some of the best talent in the world. Our community is important, we represent the freedom of self-expression and how beautiful that can be in practice. Our outstanding community deserves recognition, and two Coachella Valley locals are doing just that with the first annual STRUT Awards. Charlie Rosenberg and Aura Van Dank have founded The STRUT Awards and aim to recognize the community’s favorite industry workers, businesses, performers, and so much more in the Southern California region. THe eveNT Aura and Charlie wanted to start the STRUT Awards to celebrate and recognize all the amazing members of the community for all that they do to make the Southern California LGBTQ+ industry so special. There are just under 400 nominees among 35 categories of the region’s favorites, including titles like Favorite Drag Performer, Favorite Event Producer, Favorite Publication, Favorite Restaurant, and Favorite Business Owner. The 35 winners will be announced and presented their awards on December 12th, 2021 at 6pm when the STRUT Awards Gala begins. The Gala will be hosted by Aura Van Dank and special guest co-host, the Palm Springs legend herself, Bella da Ball! The event will feature a full night of celebration, entertainment, and a strong sense of community appreciation that will bring all of the industry members in Southern California together, to further help the industry flourish. During the event, there will be photo opportunities, cash bars, and food options. To make this an accessible event for all those who are interested, general admission ticket prices start at just $34.99 and all those nominated are given a discount code for one free ticket for general entry to the gala or to be used towards upgrade options. There will also be a Reception held at the top of the hour that will allow members of the community to socialize and explore Charitable Non-Profit Partner Exhibits. Not only is the event aimed to recognize and appreciate those who have made our community so special, The STRUT Awards also showcase those talents live on stage. During the awards gala, there will be three spotlight variety shows featuring some of our community’s amazing talent,

Liam Goff aka “Aura Van Dank”: Co-Founder and Co-Host of STRUT AWARDS

Brian Wanzek aka “Bella da Ball”: Special Guest Co-Host of STRUT Awards

THe sTrUT awards

Charlie Rosenberg: Developer and Co-Founder of STRUT Awards

recognizing the community By Liam Goff

“our outstanding community deserves recognition, and two Coachella valley locals are doing just that with the first annual STRUT Awards.” drag queens, singers, singing drag queens, and more! abouT THe FouNDerS Charlie Rosenberg was born and raised in the Coachella Valley and is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community in the desert. Charlie has been an active member of the community in Hillcrest, San Diego for 12 years, and developed the popular Hillcrest Social mobile application, he did event photography at many events throughout the community. During the pandemic Charlie co-founded OutAt.TV for drag performers, podcasters, musicians and more around the country to broadcast their art

on streaming platforms. Since his permanent move back to the Coachella Valley with his partner and drag queen Liam Goff, aka “Aura Van Dank”, they have both been heavily involved in the community. Since moving from North Carolina earlier this year, Aura Van Dank has been quickly making a name for herself in the Coachella Valley and SoCal region with her unique style and over the top dramatic performances. For the past year, Aura has been performing at numerous local spots, participating in charitable drag shows, volunteering to perform at Palm Springs Pride, and bringing her flavor

of drag all over. She has been performing in drag for four years and got her start working at small bars across North and South Carolina building up a reputation of professional sweetheart, and has been doing the same thing in the Coachella Valley. abouT beLLa Da baLL As a drag performer and cofounder of the event, Aura Van Dank will be hosting alongside the fabulous and incomparable special co-host Bella da Ball. Brian Wanzek aka “Bella da Ball ‘’ is well known throughout the Coachella Valley and greater SoCal region as one of the top LGBTQ+ event hosts.

She has been working in charitable events for many years and is at the top of the game for raising money and creating visibility for numerous nonprofit organizations. Bella is known for her huge personality, even bigger hair, and unforgettable smile. Her bubbly personality is infectious and she is sure to give an audience their money’s worth when they show up at a Bella da Ball show!

december 2021 volume 3 issue 5

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december 2021 volume 3 issue 5


Few THINgs are as MagICal

AS helping reScue dogS… while eAting BirthdAy cAke! you cAn hAppily do Both! By LGBTQ San Diego county News Staff

images) 21SDG1093_Gas Crew Safety__LGBTQ (courtesy Times__Run Date: 12/2/21__1/4 pg, 4C__Trim: 6.1” x 10.96”


n Saturday, Jan. 8th from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., North Park’s very own Lucky Pup Dog Rescue is having a post-holiday fundraiser at one of Hillcrest’s favorite bars, The Loft – located at 3610 Fifth Ave. To add to the excitement and festivities, we will also be celebrating The Loft’s co-owner, Andy Clark’s Birthday! There will be a fabulous silent auction, raffles, lunch for purchase, and of course, birthday cake! Lucky Pup founders, Christine and Steve Haslet, have worked tirelessly to rescue dogs from high-kill shelters all over Southern California for


DoNaTIoNS/INQuIrIeS/ CoNTaCT Lucky Pup Dog Rescue Christine Haslet 619 333.1345 nonprofit IRS #90 0753223

“We’re so excited and grateful to be invited back to The Loft for such a fun and important fundraising event”

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over a decade. Their non-profit rescue in an all-volunteer organization, is staffed with a team of local, caring volunteers. Countless volunteers have stepped up for the many neglected and abandoned dogs who would have otherwise been euthanized for simply being homeless, and because of this community support, Lucky Pup has also been able to help other small rescues who are saving dogs from many of the very same highkill shelters. “We’re so excited and grateful to be invited back to The Loft for such a fun and important fundraising event”, said Christine Haslet, Lucky Pup founder. “This will be our first in-person fundraising event since the beginning of the pandemic, and like many non-profits, the pandemic has severely impacted the services we are able to provide.” Lucky Pup is still in need of items for their Silent Auction & Raffle.

11/16/21 6:24 PM

COUrT News / ObITUarY

december 2021 volume 3 issue 5

2 MeN TO sTaNd TrIal for 2020 hillcreSt murder By Neal putnam

(image by


wo men have been ordered to stand trial for murder in the 2020 stabbing death and robbery of a Hillcrest man whose DNA was found underneath the fingernails of both men. Both Willie Gray, 65, and Darcell Marquise Moore, 41, pleaded not guilty Nov. 15 to killing Shawn Timothy Puzzo, 60, who was stabbed 10 times in the area of West Washington Street and Front Street on April 15, 2020. Gray was also held to answer for burglary and looting


memorial service for Mick Michele Donahue will be held in early 2022 after the longtime straight ally of the LGBTQ community died on Nov. 13 from COVID-19. Donahue, 83, attended the Metropolitan Community Church in San Diego for 35 years and people recalled how she was so friendly and welcoming to everyone. “Mick was that one person no matter where you ran into her, she always reminded you of how loved you truly are,” said MCC member Pamela Raptis. “She would always introduce you to everyone in the crowd. She was fearless in caring for humanity,” said Raptis. “We all called her ‘Mama Mick’ as she regarded all of us as her kids,” said MCC member Greg Ragsdale. “She was one of the first Christian LGBTQ advocates my kids met and gave them a lens through which to view their new community that was healthy and filled with love,” said Ragsdale. “Mick was a faithful member. She loved this church. It was her family of choice,” said Senior Pastor Dan Koeshall. “Mick was a strong ally and proud PFLAG member.” “Mick was one of a kind and always treated me as her ‘twin’,” said MCC vice moderator Al Smithson, who noted that he shared the same date of birth and year as Donahue. She worked as an anesthesiologist technician in the Veteran’s Hospital and retired after turning 70 years old. She lived in North Park. Donahue is the sole person from MCC to pass away from COVID-19, but she apparently was infected after residing at a nursing home in La Mesa. She was diagnosed with dementia in January at the facility and passed away there.

the Urban Index retail store during a state of emergency the same day in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Deputy District Attorney Philippa Cunningham said approximately $2,000 worth of merchandise was stolen from the Hillcrest store. Puzzo’s pockets were gone through and gift cards in his possession were taken. Attorneys said Puzzo was homeless as were the other two men. Puzzo was stabbed in the face, neck, torso, and leg. An

ambulance rushed him to a hospital after he was found at 9:15 p.m., but he died before he could go into surgery. Gray’s attorney asked San Diego Superior Court Judge Maureen Hallahan unsuccessfully not to order Gray to stand trial for murder, saying he was only present at the homicide and did not do anything. Six law enforcement personnel testified during the preliminary hearing. A trial date was set for May 11, 2022. Both men remain in jail.


Several people from MCC asked to visit her in November, but she was in quarantine. “She was certainly full of God’s love,” said Gary Gunter. “She loved signing for the deaf from her chair in the front row. I was intrigued by her smiles!” “She had a good heart, a good soul,” said David Root. “She was tired and wanted to go home and be with the Lord.” “I miss our lunches at Souplantation Restaurant. We had such a fun time together,” recalled Barbie Plourd. Donahue was a practicing Catholic and also attended St. Didacus Catholic Church in Normal Heights when her schedule allowed her to do so. She said she felt called to attend MCC as a straight ally of the LGBTQ community, starting in 1986. She officially joined MCC in March, 1996, according to Lee Bowman, minister of information for MCC. She joined MCC when Rev. Dusty Pruitt was interim pastor after Pastor Tony Freeman accepted another job within the MCC organization. “The LGBTQ community was her only family,” said Pruitt, who visited with her twice shortly before her death. Mick was born on Sept. 19, 1938, after her birth mother gave her up for adoption at a St.

Louis, MO hospital. Mick never got to meet her birth mother or father or discover their names. She grew up in an orphanage and was adopted by an older couple in the Kansas/ Missouri area. The couple died approximately 35-40 years ago, and they did not have any siblings, so Mick did not have any nieces or nephews. She attended medical school to begin a career as an anesthesiologist technician and enjoyed talking about her 1960s college life. Her eyes sometimes dazzled when she was pleased.She also loved cats. Felix, her 12-year-old black cat, died in 2020. She buried him in her garden. In 2004, Donahue won the annual Lovedy Gilbert Compassionate Heart Award at MCC that is presented each year to a woman who has demonstrated outstanding love, service and commitment to the church and the LGBT community. Mick’s good deeds continued for years as she gave rides to people to church and to lunch afterwards. No exact date has been set for her memorial service other than it will be likely be held on a Sunday afternoon after church services in January or February, 2022. She is missed!


aDvicE from a friEND from paGE 13



december 2021 volume 3 issue 5

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