LGBTQ San Diego County News July 2022 Volume 3 Issue 19

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JULY 1, 2022 VOLUME 3 ISSUE 19




Lempicka: A Portrait of Women’s Empowerment P22



LIFE BEYOND THERAPY TRANS TALK What I Told The Navy WITH CONNER About Being Gay P13 Pride is Upon Us! P14

PROUD+ 2022 Exhibition P24


BIG MIKE & FRIENDS Featuring DJ Taj P12


Local Pride Proclamations Hit Record Numbers P8 HEALTH

Being Gay, Working Out P20


A NOTE FROM TONI Happy Pride! And Happy Fourth of July! P10 Elected Officials React to the Overturning of Roe v Wade P19


DJ Ben Bakson To Headline SD Pride’s Coronation Ball P16 COURT NEWS

Man who Fired Gunshot During Protest Outside Mayor’s Home to be Sentenced P27


ARTIST FEATURES | COMMUNITY FEATURES | ART & ENTERTAINMENT Happy Pride 2022 San Diego! This year’s theme is appropriately “Justice with Joy”, both of which we absolutely need right now. Wishing our LGBTQ+ community, brothers, sisters, siblings, allies and visitors a safe and fabulous Pride celebration. READ ON PAGE 2

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PRIDEFULL OF TALENT This year’s Pride Festival entertainment lineup is excitingly diverse and talented. With five stages, there is absolutely something for everyone. We caught up with a few of those entertainers and we’d like you to get to know them and their stories. We present to you; Jaye Naima, Myylo, and Muxxxe.

By LGBTQ San Diego County News Staff

Jaye Naima

Jaye Naima (courtesy image)

MOVEMENT STAGE | SAT. JULY 16 | 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM


aye Naima was born and raised in Raleigh, NC. She speaks volumes for herself as an artist who lives authentically as who she is. Starting to explore philanthropy, Jaye has given an undeniable voice for people who feel muted and erased. “Celebrity” is a genesis freestyle which brought her notoriety as a lyricist which set her apart from a rapper to an artist. “Problems” brings a coming up anthem vibe which gets you hype to start your hustle. While “Kitty Drop” and “PSA” are feel good dance records that you can play when it’s time to get lit! This is only the beginning for the visionary in her that transpires eloquently in her music. Being a part of her story is also being a part of a decade inspiring movement. We had the chance to ask Jaye some questions and get to know her better. How would you describe Jaye Naima? I’m a firecracker. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. I may have a little sassiness, but I keep it cute. You know? I definitely had a Cinderellalike story and I’m watching this movie called “life” unfold so beautifully. The people who know me realize I have so many sides to me. So, asking me to describe myself is like asking for a 2-hour lecture at this point. I could go on and on!

When did you discover your passion for music? When I was a child, I used to watch my brother rap with his friends, and he had a group. I got jealous and wanted some attention and ended up writing my first rap song to bring to the cypher. It was in my opinion the worst rap song in history. *laughs*. It took me a while for my family to take me seriously but the more I practiced, they were like “You definitely have talent you should keep going with it” and that’s what sparked my drive I have today. What drives your music? It’s funny because people say, “Oh you can’t do it for anyone else, do this for yourself”. Which they’re not wrong but I definitely do it for the culture. My fans love me. My fans thrive off of seeing me exceed in pop culture, sonically, or just life in general. It just goes to show that there’s a clear dynamic here. Whatever they want that I can provide will be served on a 24k gold plate. *chef’s kiss* What’s the moment that changed your life? I don’t think there’s a specific moment. But being that I am in the moment that will live on, I can say this sh** don’t stop. Every little interaction I’ve had whether it’s a fan,

a friend, a stranger, and others matter so much to me because the circle of life always comes back around to bless you. If I can be of service in any way to the movement, I would be proud to oblige. What does Pride mean to you? Opportunities. It takes a real person to go through what we go through as a community. I relate to so many different demographics and I think that speaks so loudly that I don’t even have to show up to be in the conversation. My name moves in a room even when I’m not present. So, to be prideful means to be fearless, be graceful, be innovative, and at the end of the day just be you. What can audiences expect from your Pride set? You don’t want to say you missed this one! We’re not playing around! Where can our readers hear your music and follow you? I’m on all streaming platforms as Jaye Naima and (@jayenaima). They just call me Thundakat. My fans are waiting so impatiently for the rollout, and I love it. I can’t wait to give you what you’ve been waiting for. Let’s go!






STONEWALL STAGE | SUN. JULY 17 | 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM


Myylo is an LGBTQ performer who isn’t afraid to – as cliché as it sounds – speak his mind, especially when it comes to representation within the music industry and breaking down stereotypes of masculinity. As a songwriter for other artists, Myylo has obtained significant victories: “Frostbite” by Box of Beats was featured in Netflix’s Jawbreaker, “Never See a Tear” by The Calvillo Sister’s has racked up 250,000 Spotify spins, “GTFO” by Trove was set for an early 2019 release by Sony’s disco: wax label, and “Wolves” by BNTLY secured the band distribution through Bungalo Records and Universal Music Group. He has collaborated with multiple hit writers including Mike Posner (Maroon 5, Justin Bieber), Baby Face (Beyoncé, Whitney Houston), Daylight (Shawn Mendes), Foolish Ways (Timbaland), Jenny Owen Youngs (Panic! at the Disco), and Shane Stevens (Meghan Trainor, Selena Gomez). How would you describe Myylo? Myylo is a twunkified pop songwriter who makes witty, guitar driven songs about Bois and Queerness. When did you discover your passion for music? When I wrote my first song as a very emotionally intense teenager and my whole soul cracked wide open on the page.

What drives/inspires your music? I’m inspired by joy + comedy + kitsch + camp + bright colors + masterful songwriting + bois + acoustic guitars + background vocals that lift up a song + love + the lives of my friend + what it means to be Queer + an occasional existential yelp into the void. What is the moment that changed your life? Learning to read in the first grade. I was illiterate before and now I’m not! Turns out, understanding words and storytelling is really important for my profession. What does Pride mean to you? Pride means radically existing as my most authentic self and building community with other Queer people. What can audiences expect from your Pride set? Fun, some intimate acoustic moments, a very tight rainbow shirt, off the cuff banter, a longing stare from the stage deep, deep into their souls, and – not to be redundant – more fun! Where can our readers hear your music and follow you? Readers can listen to my tunes anywhere and everywhere they stream music. All social handles are @myylomusic


Muxxxe (courtesy image)



uxxxe is a third gender visual artist and rapper from Tijuana, Mexico. ‘Third gender’ means they don’t want to be restricted to the identity of solely a man or woman. “Basically, being a Non-binary person or a Trans person is not conforming with these binary constructs of gender that is male or female,” Muxxxe said. Muxxxe has garnered wide attention not only for their androgynouspopstar-from-the-future look, but also as a subversive rapper and performance artist navigating themes of migration and displacement. We had the opportunity to ask Muxxxe more about what drives their performance art. How would you describe Muxxxe? I see myself as a possibility, to be whatever/whoever I desire. What fuels your work? Since I was little, I always felt misunderstood and unheard, rejected and not taken seriously. All that negativity made me resistant, made me want to be seen in order to get my point across, every time a person says no to me or tries to minimize my achievements, there’s a fire charging my drive. I know where I wanna be, I know that I need to work hard in order to get there, and in order to access those spaces. I want to be looked up to, I want to be a role model for others with similar life experiences, and for those who don’t see the light at the end of the hallway, I want to make their path easier than mine was; that’s what fuels my work.

Myylo (courtesy image)

What does Pride mean to you? For me, Pride means not giving a f*ck about anyone’s opinion on you and your choices; it’s about taking back control for you to live your truth. What is the importance in performance art to be included in a space like Pride? For me, being invited as a visual artist/rapper to perform at a festival of this magnitude is super valuable and reassuring. For years I’ve been attending in the audience, and I always envisioned myself on the main stage, now after a few years, finally making it happen is really a full circle moment. I feel that people need to rethink and shift their chips around performance art in general. I believe there’s a misconception surrounding it because of mainstream practices that use pain, nudity and other clichés involving the body. There’s more than that, it can be subtle or in your face, our body is just our medium to say things, through our voices, through the spaces we are in, through the clothing/objects adorning our bodies, is all about symbolism, about gestures. Can you tell us about your set for San Diego Pride? I’m just going to say that it is a love letter to all my Queer/Trans LatinXs out there <3. Mucha puteria, mucha cagada de palo y mucho perreo! Where can readers find more performances and content? On my Linktree or Instagram @m.u.x.x.x.e





Fierce Grace Color Guard (courtesy image)



t’s not often that Color Guard is accessible to people of all ages, but we believe it’s an athletic art form that belongs to everyone. There’s something so magical about flags moving through the air together creating synchronized movements with the beat of the music. If you’ve spun before you know there’s nothing like it! We were very excited to talk to Zeng (he/ him), founder of Fierce Grace, about what drove to the start of the Color Guard. By LGBTQ San Diego County News Staff

Describe what a Color Guard is? Color Guard is an athletic art form that combines synchronized choreography with equipment such as flags and stylized weapons. It’s a fusion of dance, movement, pageantry, theater, and music. Often, you’ll find Color Guards as part of marching bands, but there is also a competitive segment of the activity known as Winter Guard, which has its own competitive circuits and shows just like dance, cheerleading, etc. Our group is noncompetitive, and unlike most groups out there, open to all ages and LGBTQ+ centered.

art is inherently radical in that it takes historically militaristic elements like drill, flags, rifles, and sabres, and transforms them into beautiful experiences that bring people together. So, when we moved to San Diego a few years ago, I wanted the same experience I had gotten at SpinOut but could not find any comparable groups here. Last fall, I applied for and got a grant from the Awesome Foundation to create an LGBTQ+ centered, non-competitive, all ages group in San Diego, to make Color Guard accessible to the community here! It’s been a wonderful experience so far.

Tell us how you came up with the idea of forming the Color Guard? My dream is to make the magic of Color Guard accessible to everyone, especially Queer and Trans community members. My partner and I used to live in Seattle, and we participated in an amazing Color Guard group called SpinOut, part of the Rainbow City Band, an LGBTQ+ marching band that performs in parades and community events. I had an incredible experience there that was completely different from the competitive Color Guard I spun with in high school. The peer-led, co-creative environment was miles away from the stressful, competitive, instructor-as-drill-sergeant energy that is so common with Guards (which are after all descended from militaries). For me, Color Guard as a performing

How many members are in the Guard? We’re just a few months old, so we don’t have an official member roster yet, but a couple dozen folks have come through to our meetups so far! There are six of us who will be performing at the Pride Festival. Tell us about the excitement building up for the Pride performance? My co-choreographer Kyler and I have been teaching our routines, and the group has been rehearsing every week for some time now! Everything is coming together so beautifully, especially as this will be our first official performance together as a group, and half of the performers are new to the activity. I’m so proud of everyone’s commitment and presence. It takes a lot to show up and learn something new, not

to mention put yourself out there as a performer at Pride. I’m so excited to show the community what we’ve co-created! Where will the performance take place? We’ll be at the Festival via the Pan-Asian Night Market stage, on Saturday, July 16th at 3:40pm! Come on time as it’s not a very long performance - or just come early to support the other fantastic acts. You can see the Festival Schedule here: How can someone join, do they need previous experience? No experience is needed! We have meetups every Tuesday evening at a park in Normal Heights and welcome all LGBTQ+ folks as well as allies who respect our identities. Right now, our rehearsals are temporarily closed to new members as we’re focused on getting ready for Pride, but our next community meetup that anyone can attend will be on Tuesday, July 26th! Where can people get more information? You can join our group and sign up for meetups at https:// ! Or just search “San Diego Queer Color Guard” on We’re also in the process of getting on social media, so feel free to be an early follower of @sdqueercolorguard on Instagram.



Brian had his HIV under control with medication. But smoking with HIV caused him to have serious health problems, including a stroke, a blood clot in his lungs and surgery on an artery in his neck. Smoking makes living with HIV much worse. You can quit.



HIV alone didn’t cause the clogged artery in my neck. Smoking with HIV did. Brian, age 45, California









LEADERS By LGBTQ San Diego County News Staff

“Pride is the event I look forward to most every year, I love walking through the festival and seeing complete strangers saying “Happy Pride” and hugging one another and spreading the joy of being their authentic selves.” — SAM MOEHLIG

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Sam Moehlig

Photo by Rikke Bahena



am Moehlig is a San Diego native and a youth leader in the Transgender community. He has learned to overcome not only the challenges of being Trans but also growing up with a disability, Sam was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Sam serves as a Youth Ambassador for TransFamily Support Services in San Diego. Many times, he is the first Trans youth that others talk to when they come out. Sam works with many youths and/or their parents guiding them on the gender journey. His transition is the subject of an Emmy Award winning documentary ‘A Transgender Teen’s Journey: Sam’s Story’. Sam is a gymnastics coach, college student and a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo. Sam is committed to educating folks on acceptance and equality for all.




“We are the future. It’s incredibly important that other young people get themselves involved because we have the biggest stake in our future. ”

We had a chance to catch up with Sam, talk Pride and being named Mister San Diego Pride 2022. San Diego Pride is right around the corner. What does Pride mean to you? Pride is the event I look forward to most every year, I love walking through the festival and seeing complete strangers saying “Happy Pride” and hugging one another and spreading the joy of being their authentic selves. How do you manage being in the spotlight since a very young age as an advocate for Trans visibility? I reminded myself that I wasn’t speaking out for myself, I was speaking on behalf of Trans youth who may not have found their voices just yet. When you are not raising awareness what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I enjoy going to the gym, swimming, hiking, reading and spending time with my family. You are an adult now, what are your plans? I plan to continue working part-time as a coach at North County Gymnastics and The Gyminny Kids and finish out my degree in kinesiology at Palomar College. How does it feel to be named this year’s Mister San Diego LGBTQ Pride 2022? It is humbling to be given such a fantastic opportunity and I intend to take it with great pride. Any fun plans for the Pride season, what are you looking forward to doing? Just to live in the moment and spend time with the people I love the most.



Matthew Zheng Quitoriano

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e took time to talk to Matthew and get to know him and more about his dirve. Tell our readers a little about yourself. I’m Matthew Zheng Quitoriano, a student at San Diego High School. I’m bisexual, Filipino-Chinese, and have lived in San Diego for 12 years. I spend most of my free time fencing, and it’s a huge passion of mine. I’m also very interested in Model United Nations and Academic League, where I can channel my academic passion. What made you want to run for the student trustee position on the San Diego Unified School District? I ran because I saw a lot of students, including myself, confused at the reasoning behind some of the decisions made at the district level. I felt that I could help bridge that gap and increase district communication.

What did your parents think when you told them you wanted to run for the position? My parents were very supportive, and they were very helpful in helping me spread my message across many platforms. What is the importance of not only student representation in the school district but LGBTQ+ student representation? I think the most important thing that comes with representation is that people feel comfortable. It’s impossible for one or two students to represent the diverse range of backgrounds that students come from, especially regarding the LGBTQ+, which is why I firmly believe that the school district needs to bolster student representation and involvement in the changemaking process. Further regarding LGBTQ students, many students still do not recognize who we are, and having representatives shows that our queerness does not hold us back from achieving great things.

What effect do you want to have on the school district in your position as student trustee? I hope that by me holding this position I make LGBTQ students feel a little safer at school and feel that they are represented at the table. Beyond that, I think that it’s also incredibly important that students feel that they have a direct channel to the school district board and are empowered to speak up. I hope the school district realizes that students are mature enough, strong enough, smart enough, and educated enough to be respected like any other person. Students deserve a voice, and the school district should respect that and foster it. Are politics something you aspirer to take on as an adult? I think that there’s a lot I can do in this world to make it better. Politics might be one pathway to that, but there are many others. I want to stay focused on the goal here at hand - making students have the best school experience possible.

How important is it for other individuals your age to get involved by volunteering or joining organizations that have a say in shaping their futures? We are the future. It’s incredibly important that other young people get themselves involved because we have the biggest stake in our future. We have new ideas, the innovativeness, and the passion needed at the discussion table. June was Pride month, and July is San Diego Pride. What does Pride mean to you? Pride means a lot to me because it’s really touching to see so many great people showing who they are. It’s a celebration of how far we’ve come, but also a signal of how much further we must go.







hile San Diego Pride’s much-anticipated annual rally, parade, and festival are just days away, for North County residents and visitors, we already got a taste of Pride in June with record-setting participation – in more ways than one. Notably, The North County LGBTQ Resource Center’s Pride by the Beach attracted an estimated 20,000 participants to its family and pet friendly, drug and alcoholfree event. The festival featured more than 100 vendors and a day packed with performances,

speeches, and entertainment. The stage was extra full when time came to call for elected officials to join Center staff and Pride volunteers on stage. In that moment, Max Disposti, founder and executive director of the Center, emphasized in a social media post that, “The biggest joy for me is to see our staff and volunteers with their heart full of joy, the love and support for each other and the community, a dream come true after years of hard labor and determination.” But pride and the community’s

labor were in full force the whole month of June, not just at their June 11 Pride festival in Oceanside, serving all the north county communities. Record-Number Pride Month Municipal Proclamations Significantly, this year saw the most proclamation issued for Pride Month, in recognition of the Center’s work. This year, The County of San Diego, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido, Vista, and Encinitas issued proclamations. And for the very first time, The City of San Marcos issues a beau-

tiful proclamation as well. These seven proclamations stand as a testament to the efforts to increase visibility and build community in our coastal and inland north county communities. In 2019, only Oceanside and Carlsbad issued proclamations. Additionally, Palomar College, under the direction of Pride Center Coordinator, Dr. Abbie Cory, raised the Pride Flag on campus for the first time, as did Oceanside Unified School District with a flag raising ceremony at its offices. continued on Page 26





Q Puzzle

ROYAL CONFESSION ACROSS 1 Notes from Barber’s staff 6 “The Bells ___ Mary’s” 10 Name on an old column 14 Bucky Beaver’s toothpaste 15 Smurf patriarch 16 Like a Marc Jacobs ensemble 17 “To Kill a Mockingbird” tomboy 18 Bipedal dino 19 Bear’s fur 20 Start of a confession from a royal in 55-Across 23 Beat it 26 Greg of “As Good As It Gets” 27 Single, in gay Paree 28 “You’re putting ___!” 31 Singer Cole 32 More of the confession 35 Circumcision, for one 39 Painter Francis 40 “Put ___ Happy Face” 41 Pitched in 42 Kind of dunk, to Sue Wicks 43 End of the confession 45 A porn star may have a big one 47 Verb for Christopher Marlowe 48 Prince Valiant’s boy 49 Doppler of the Seattle Storm, et al. 53 Makes false promises to a cock 55 Source of the quote 58 Debussy’s deity 59 Judy Garland, to many 60 Fruit of Adam and Steve? 64 Body passageway 65 Campbell of “The Company” 66 Not too hot 67 Highsmith’s “The Price of ___” 68 Oldest of the Brady kids 69 Pulled the plug on

Solutions on page 27

DOWN 1 Third notes, in “The Sound of Music” 2 Merchandise ID 3 Word in Brazilian place names 4 Alaskan tongue 5 Eartha Kitt’s role on “Batman” 6 Picks out, with “for” 7 Jamie who cross-dressed on “M*A*S*H” 8 Command to Rover 9 Runway activity 10 Queer, to straights 11 James Beard partner William 12 Sporty Mazda 13 Rock Hudson or Robert Reed 21 Nat. counterpart in MLB 22 Barrie’s precipitation 23 “Miami Vice” role 24 Tatum of “The Bad News Bears” 25 Visitors’ center 29 Melville novel of 1847 30 Last inning, usually 33 Ideal setting for a fan 34 Atlas acronym 36 What comes out of your head 37 ___ Haute, Indiana 38 Ideal spots 41 Come before 43 What an “O” can be 44 Words in an analogy 46 Figured out 49 They cover the knees of drag queens 50 “West Side Story” girl 51 Sword, poetically 52 “Coming out of Egypt” dinner 54 Navratilova’s winter home 56 Didn’t go straight 57 Jackie’s designer 61 Mail order abbr. 62 Fairy tale, so to speak 63 Teaching deg.





“Remember to be vigilant and watch out for each other”

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


appy July! Once again, we are about to join family, friends and neighbors to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of our nation. While the ideals of liberty and equality sparked in Philadelphia 246 years ago still haven’t translated into day-to-day reality for many Americans, and at a time when some of our most basic rights and democratic institutions are under attack, there is still so much to celebrate and honor in the Fourth of July and the blueprint of the American Dream. I hope you have a fun, safe, and meaningful holiday! Fun, safe and meaningful is also a pretty good description of San Diego Pride! And, after not being able to be together in person the last couple years, this year’s celebration should be one to remember! There have been some issues with bigots threatening Pride celebrations in 2022, so, once again, it is unfortunate but important for us to remember to be vigilant and watch out for each other. This is our time to shine (and sparkle), and I hope to see everybody safely out and about this year!

LGBTQ San Diego County News PO Box 34664 San Diego, CA 92163 858.886.9458 PUBLISHER Terry Sidie ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Nicole Murray Ramirez 619.241.5672 CREATIVE DIRECTOR Cesar A. Reyes EDITOR IN CHIEF JP Emerson


(image by

SALES 858.886.9458

AND HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! The start of July also brings big news from the Capitol: June 30th was the deadline to pass SCA 10, the legislation I wrote to enshrine the right to abortion in California’s Constitution and ensure that those vital health care decisions will still be made privately by women and their healthcare providers, without interference from outside forces. Now that SCA 10 has passed both the Senate and the Assembly, it heads to the voters in November. Additionally, SB 1375, my bill to expand access to reproductive health care by allowing trained and qualified nurse practitioners to perform first trimester abortions without the direct supervision of a physician, passed its first hearing in the Assembly and is continuing its path to the Governor’s desk. July 1 also marks the beginning of the new fiscal year,

when we start implementing the 2022-23 state budget. I’ve shared with you the historic investments and record reserves we included in the budget, which will put California’s wealth to work for families, businesses and students. I am particularly pleased that the Legislature and the Governor were able to combine our approaches and deliver real relief for Californians dealing with the high prices we and the rest of the world have been facing. That means $9.5 billion in direct tax refunds to 23 million California tax filers, with amounts ranging from $200 to $1,050 depending on income, filing status, and dependents. We also increased grants for SSI/ SSP and CalWORKs so those who need the most help aren’t left out of our relief efforts. We were also able to put in the final budget the California Dream for All program, my

COPY EDITOR Brittany Berger

proposal to help California’s first-time homebuyers with money they need for a down payment. In a recent Op-Ed, Donna DeBerry (CEO) and Bruce Mayberry (Board Chair) of the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce and Carla Farley, owner of the Corban Realty Group and past president of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, highlighted that the program “has the potential to reduce some of the barriers to homeownership that have disproportionately prevented families of color from owning homes.” Financial independence is another great thing to celebrate, and the California Dream for All program will help many Californians meet that goal. Happy Pride! And Happy Fourth of July! Here’s to pursuing our lives, liberty, and happiness as exactly who we truly are.

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Big Mike Phillips 619.807.7324 WEB AND SOCIAL MEDIA CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Allan Acevedo Berto Fernández Big Mike Phillips Connor Maddocks Michael Kimmel Neal Putnam Randall Blaum Toni G. Atkins Troy Lefferson 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 © 2022 LGBTQ San Diego County News Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this publication’s advertorial, 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.

This publication was supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.”





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.


oday as I looked upon the national LGBTQ Wall of Honor here at the historic Stonewall Inn holding the names of over 50 of our LGBTQ pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes, I again realized that many were my sisters and brothers that, for over a half a century, we had worked together in my life as a Latino and LGBTQ activist. I wondered what they would want me to say to you today as we have gathered here to remember and honor those whose shoulders we stand on. I believe that they would want me to tell you that many of them and myself had survived the McCarthy Era of the 1950s and his homosexual witch hunts that we had survived the police raids and brutalities against us in the 1960s that we had survived the times that, with just a stroke of a pen and the signatures of either a judge or your parents, we were committed to state hospitals many subjected to electric shock treatment or lobotomies never to return the same. I think that they would want me to say that we survived the hate and homophobic crusades of Anita Bryant to, and I quote, “save our children”, that we survived John Briggs, Jerry Falwell and other homophobic leaders. Indeed, we survived those early dark lonely years of AIDS when homophobic leaders wanted to tattoo us, segregate us, and even put us on a proposed island or camps. But now at these times and days of our LGBTQA+ community the rise of hate crimes against us, hundreds of legislative bills in state houses against us, movements to erase our transgender sisters and brothers, these days and times where just last week the Texas State Republican Party convention added to their official platform that they declare and I quote: “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle and a choice”, what would they want me to say to you in these times that the far-right extremists have targeted us, our Pride parades and events, our trans youth and children and their parents, our neighborhoods, our LGBTQ youth and even

Photos by Ruby Starling

now drag queens! I can hear Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera whispering to me in that Whoopi Goldberg voice: “You in danger girl.” Yes, we don’t need a Paul Revere telling us: “The Proud Boys are coming, the Proud Boys are coming” because they have always been here, but now they have come out from their dark sewers and into the light. The truth is that the LGBTQ Community has always been in danger and under attack for we are the last civil rights movement of the 21st Century and the last Americans to have not been granted full equal rights. But this national homophobic and hate campaign of the radical right is different for they have also targeted a women’s right to choose, Black Americans’ access and rights to vote, targeted and attacked our Jewish Community and their places of worship more than ever, they are standing up even stronger against gun control. Yes, indeed something is very different in this current new ultra-Right war against us. They have made immigrants and asylum seekers, and Dreamers the new “boogie man” and in attacking our Asian Pacific Islander Community, they have awoken a sleeping giant. My brothers and sisters of the LGBTAQ+ Community, a war has not only been declared on us, bout on People of

Color, women, and the Jewish Community. So, my message to you and the message from our heroes on this Wall of Honor is: We must unite and build bridges and stronger outreach to other communities, causes and issues. They must become our issues and causes. Now more than ever, we must come out of the closets and into the voting booths come this November’s midterm elections. And we must not only engage and be involved in the suites of political/government power, S-U-I-T-E-S, but be ready to go back into the streets S-T-R-E-E-T-S. For always remember Stonewall was indeed a street riot! In closing, our message today to you of the new ultra-radical radical Right as we stand on this sacred LGBTQA+ historic site. Our community is ready and just like we fought Anita Bryant and her oranges of hate we are ready to fight the campaigns of an orange-faced ex-president and his followers. “Don’t Tread on Us” for we have only just begun to fight, and will, by any means necessary. Thank you, Happy Pride and God Bless America.

“DON’T TREAD ON US” The following is the Keynote Address given at the 2022 National LGBTQ Hall of Honor Ceremony on June 23, 2022, at the Stonewall Inn New York City by Founder/National Chair Human Rights Commissioner Nicole M. Ramirez Queen Mother I of the Americas, International Imperial Courts System U.S.A.-Canada-Mexico






Photo by Rikke Photography

can’t imagine how much more alone and lower I would have gotten if absolutely no one had made an effort to do anything on my birthday that year. I’ve always had the utmost love and respect for Ryan and considered him a dear friend... But now I consider him family!


If the universe could grant you one wish, what would you wish for, and why? That’s a loaded question... And a tough one. I have questions! Could I wish for unlimited wishes? Let’s clarify that first...

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 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 somewhere with beautiful, mild weather that was very dog friendly and I would take my dog Daphne with me because she’s getting up there in age (13) and she has been through IT ALL with me! (Here come those tears again) She’s seen me at my best, at my worst and everything in between and she has been my one constant through it all. She’s given me so much emotional support that I should be paying her the salary of a therapist! It’s amazing to me when people take their dogs for granted because they truly are angels here on this earth with the sole purpose to protect us and give us unconditional love when you don’t always get it from other humans. So, Daphne HANDS DOWN deserves that trip!


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 all lifestyles, talents, and personalities who I think would 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. One of those amazing people I get to feature in my column for this Pride issue is DJ Taj. He has been one of our most popular and talented DJ’s in our community for a couple of decades. Bringing people together with his music throughout the years. I have not only worked with DJ Taj in the clubs over the years, but I have also been on the dance floor dancing right next to many of you to his music. His dedication to his craft has given so many people the opportunity to enjoy countless evenings, parties, and events dancing the night away. It is my privilege to introduce a man with a heart of gold, DJ Taj. How did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it? I honestly moved to San Diego from Cincinnati, Ohio without ever even visiting because a few of my good friends had moved out here first and would call me with stories about this mythical, Gay tropic called Hillcrest. I desperately wanted to broaden my horizons and get out of the Midwest, so I obviously jumped on the opportunity when I got a call from one of those friends to ask me to pick up and relocate to be his roommate. What I love the most about San Diego, besides the obvious (the beach, the weather, etc.) are the people, but more specifically the Hillcrest community. I had never felt more free to be myself or met so many genuinely down to earth, welcoming, inclusive people in my life. We didn’t have a “Gayborhood” in Cincinnati back in the 90s. I was barely coming out back then and Cincinnati being a very conservative (kind of rough around the edges) city, I never felt safe to be open about my-


DJ Taj (courtesy image)

self. So, you can imagine how Hillcrest completely blew my mind while filling my heart at the same time. What gets you most excited about life? A wise woman once said, “Nothing takes the past away, like the future...”. Right now, I’m coming out of the roughest year of my 40-something years on this planet... I was in a dark place and to be completely honest, I didn’t think I would survive it. Well as of a month or so ago, I have found my way out of that darkness and have a newfound appreciation for life and am really excited about my future. For me, it took going to the lowest and darkest of places, to the point I almost died to truly open my eyes for the first time and realize that I was lucky to be alive, that I have control of my own destiny, and that the future is always going to be as dark or as bright as I was going to make it. We’re always going to experience adversity and hardships in life but it’s how we choose to get through them that really dictates our future happiness. So, coming out of this dark year, right now I’m most excited about all the opportunities that I’m going to create for myself in my immediate and long-term future. I’m setting goals for myself and not limiting myself as far as what I’m trying to achieve so the sky’s the limit! Right now, it’s my chosen

future that gets me the most excited about life! Oh, and that wise woman was Madonna in her song “Nothing Really Matters”. In your professional life, what makes your business stand out and how has it changed your life? Being a DJ, the nature of my business is to literally stand out. I’m usually standing up on a stage somewhere with all eyes on me so it’s either you stand out and make a lasting impression or get awkward stares from the crowd that are questioning why someone chose to put you up there. And believe me I’ve gotten both! So, I’ve learned very early on in my career that what resonates the most with the audience is to be completely immersed and engaged with every single song I play and to interact with the crowd.... As if I was serenading them. I must feel every song in my heart as I’m playing it and that usually manifests itself physically in the performance I’m giving the crowd to make me stand out from the rest. How has it changed my life? Well, I’ve been DJing for my main source of income since I was 21 years old... I literally do what I love the most in life for a living, and have shown no signs of slowing down, as far as gigs are concerned. That, in itself, has absolutely elevated my confidence, my happiness, and my quality of life as a whole. My career is my biggest source

of pride and self-love in my life. What small act of kindness were you once shown that you’ll never forget? During that really dark year of my life when I lost myself, there were a lot of people in my life (some close friends and others I barely knew) who were concerned for me and would randomly reach out to check in and let me know I was on their mind. Those little check-ins truly helped save my life. One of those times in particular that really stands out came from one of my dear friends and owner of Rich’s Night Club, Ryan Bedrosian. He constantly would send me texts to check on me with very uplifting messages of support. Somewhere near the approach of my birthday, he asked me what my plans were for the big day, to which I replied that I had no plans. Prior to that year, I was in an 11-year relationship, so my birthday always fell in the hands of my ex to plan out... Now I was alone, depressed, and antisocial so I had no one looking out for me to plan the festivities and I certainly wasn’t in a mindset to do it for myself. When I told him I had no plans, he basically took the wheel and planned an intimate birthday dinner for me and some of my coworkers. Tears are literally rolling down my face as I’m typing this - That’s how PROFOUND that small check-in, which led to quaint dinner, affected me. I

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 barely have 100 dollars in my account right now... If I had a million dollars, could I spend it on me?! Maybe invest it in something with a big return so I can reap the benefits AND spend it on others? HAHA! I’m joking! I think I would split my donations between organizations that support black Trans people (such as The Okra Project which provides resources and meals to black Trans people) because black Trans women are the most vulnerable community under our LGBTQ rainbow right now! I would donate another portion to some sort of a non-kill adoption organization that supports displaced dogs in need such as local dog rescues, non-kill shelters or sanctuaries... And finally, I would donate another portion to the Global Giving Syrian Refugee Relief Fund; I was born in Damascus and what has happened to my country of origin due to the civil war is an absolute travesty! If you could give someone advice about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them? Oh, that’s easy! Everything you do, no matter what it is... Do it from your heart. Don’t do it for money, popularity or necessity! Do it for the love of it or don’t do it at all! continued on Page 27



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


or Pride month 2022, I was asked by Chief Petty Officer Ronald Mejia, Commander of Mine Division 12, San Diego, to speak to a group of Navy sailors about “the history of the struggle of gay people and the hope of an inclusive, tolerant future in our country.” That’s quite a topic to cover in 45 minutes! But I like a challenge, so I said,” Sure”. Of course, no one person can represent millions of LGBTQ+ folks. What can I, one gay man, say to this group of military men and women about being gay, and, more importantly, what do they want to know? What would be useful for me to share with them? This is the real question. What do (assumedly) heterosexual people need to know about us, the LGBTQ+ people of the world? I was born in 1953 in a small town in Ohio. Most of you weren’t around then, so imagine LGBTQ+ life almost 70 years’ ago: back then, the word “gay” meant “happy”. Same-sex loving men were “homos”, “queers” or “fruits” as I remember hearing from the adults around me. I wasn’t a very macho boy: I didn’t like hunting and killing animals, but I did like fishing. I didn’t like playing sports, but I did like automobiles. I liked art, reading, animals (dogs, cats, horses, snakes, turtles, fish, etc.) and riding my bicycle all over the county’s back roads. There were no healthy LGBTQ+ role models that I can remember. The few books I found that mentioned us “homos” described us as pitiful deviants whose future was abysmal. We had no chance at normal happiness and were expected to slink away from decent, God-fearing heterosexual society and not bring our dirty minds anywhere near their white picket fenced lives. I told the Navy some of my personal history as an LGBTQ+ young person, but I didn’t stop there. I wanted to give them a bit of my own background so that I’d get their attention, but I also wanted to give them something practical that they could use to better understand the LGBTQ+ people on their ship and in their families, schools and communities.

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“Unlike most minority groups, LGBTQ+ people are usually raised by non-LGBTQ+ people” First off, I asked them how many of them knew an LGBTQ+ person. Almost everyone raised their hands. This was a good sign. Next, I asked if anyone had an LGBTQ+ person in their family. About a third of them raised their hands. Wow, this may be easier than I thought. Then I asked them: “What’s the difference between LGBTQ+ people and all other ‘minority’ groups?” This stumped them (it might stump you too). The answer: unlike most minority groups, LGBTQ+ people are usually raised by nonLGBTQ+ people. Most racial, ethnic and religious “minority” children are raised by parents who are similar to them. African American children usually have African American parents. Children who are Jewish or Muslim or Baptist are typically raised by parents who share their religion. Think about it: most people are raised by parents who understand their struggles. As LGBTQ+ kids, few of us had parents who were just like us. Most of us had heterosexual parents who

had no clue who we were. We were raised by people who could not help us prepare for an LGBTQ+ adulthood in a predominantly heteronormative world. This insight was an “aha” moment for my Navy sailor audience: it hit them like a big ole whump upside the head. They’d never thought about how hard it would be to be raised by people who have no idea who you are and few ideas about how to help you thrive as an LGBTQ+ child, teenager and young adult. LGBTQ+ kids born now have many more resources to help them. Even if you’re from a rural area, as I was, now you can Google all the information you need and join online chat and support groups. In 1953, you were pretty much on your own. I told the Navy sailors a lot more, but I’ll talk about that at another time. If you are an LGBTQ+ person with heterosexual parents, what was it like to be raised by people who had no clue about who you were or how to help you? And what can you do about that today?








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


t’s that time of year, Pride is almost upon us. After the COVID break we finally get to celebrate together again. This year’s Pride will be bigger and better than ever. Don’t miss She Fest on Saturday July 9, 2022, from 12-6 PM. This year it will be held at the Pride Flag on Normal St. This is a festival for women, by women. All women owned businesses and entertainment for everyone to enjoy. Everyone is welcome. Come out and support the Lesbian and Women’s community. There’s something for everyone. On the night of Friday July 15, the Stonewall Rally will be held on Normal St. at the Pride Flag. This year we will have some speakers from our Trans youth community. They have been selected as this year’s Community Grand Marshals. Immediately after the Rally, there will be the annual Pride Block Party in the same location. The block party will be held on both Thursday July 14 and Friday July 15, right after the Stonewall Rally. Lots of music and fun to kick off the Pride weekend. To see all the Pride Events, go to www. On Saturday July 16 at 10 AM is the annual Pride Parade. Looks like this year will be another great parade with many participants. The Parade kicks off as usual on Normal St. and heads west on University Ave, turning left at 6th Avenue and ending at Balboa Park. If you want to march in the parade the local Trans community has been invited to march with the LGBT Center. Just show up and join in. This year Trans youth are being honored as the Community Grand Marshal’s and will be marching at the front of the Parade. If you are a youth and wish to march with the group just show up by 9:30 AM. If you are parents of a Trans youth, there will be a group marching directly behind the youth group of all parents and guardians of our Trans youth. The festival opens at 11 AM on Saturday and Sunday, July 16 and 17. Closing hours are 11 PM on Saturday and 9 PM on Sunday. There are five different stages and a variety of entertainment. As always there is a special Trans area at the festival. This

PRIDE IS UPON US! year we have combined Trans Pride and the T Spot Trans Festival area to create a warm, welcoming and safe place for the Trans community and others to gather. Trans Pride Village will be located at the loop – the area on Balboa Dr. where the road loops back around at the bottom of Marston Pt. There will be vendors such as therapists, local clinics, and other medical resources. There will be local Trans artists, a tarot card reader, and local resources for the Trans community. There will be tables and chairs where you can sit and chill. Since there will be no fenced in beer gardens this year, feel free to grab a cocktail and bring it on down to the village and enjoy some relaxation among your community. I am hoping this begins a new tradition with expanded features next year. Leave us suggestions as to what fun things we can add at the 2023 Pride. Be sure and come by at some point during the weekend and thank our participating community organizations for giving their time and talents to help our community grow even better, stronger, and more resilient. As our community continues to be under attack in so many places in this country and the world, I am so grateful that here in California, especially in San Diego, we can continue to celebrate and grow. Hope to see many of you at San Diego Pride. Although the Center isn’t back to its previous hours of operations yet, the Transgender Groups are still going strong on Zoom. There is a Monday Coming Out Group for Trans and

“Trans youth are being honored as the Community Grand Marshal’s and will be marching at the front of the Parade” Non-binary folks, a Wednesday Night Trans Masculine and Non-binary masculine identified folks, a Friday Night Non-Binary group and lastly a Saturday discussion held every Saturday from 5-7 PM. A couple groups though have transitioned to in person groups like Transgenero 2000. This group has been going strong since the year 2000 and is a necessary support for our Latina and Latino community. All meetings are held in Spanish, and all are welcome. Please contact for more information on all the Transgender Groups. On a final note, I have been helping with ongoing Police Training. The law AB2504 requires that all California Law Enforcement agencies be trained on sexual orientation and gender identity. The San Diego Police Department has

begun training all their field officers and supervisors, and I am very proud to be part of this team. My hope is to help law enforcement with better understanding of Transgender people and our issues, which in turn will make them better equipped to handle any special circumstances and situations requiring knowledge of our community. My hope is that in turn I can help educate us on how to deal with law enforcement. One thing I hope for now is that everyone will feel comfortable in reaching out to me if they have any concerns about a particular encounter or even with general questions regarding the respect and treatment we deserve as citizens. Change is always a two-way street so let’s work together for a better community. You can email me at

image courtesy of san Diego Pride









DJ Ben Bakson photo by Alexis Salgues



Would you consider grouping all of your singles together as an album? Definitely! I plan to release an album when I have the right original tracks together. Is your heart in playing dance records or producing them? I love both! I love to perform in front of crowds, but I also love to be in a studio and create fresh music. Both are exciting and a pure adrenaline rush. I think today’s DJs need to be able to produce. That’s what gives them their signature sound and makes them stand out from the crowd of other DJs.


Are you close friends with other DJs? Dan Slater is my best friend in the scene. We love to play back-to-back sessions together. We did it last week in New York and before that, in Pensacola. What is cool is that we never prepare our sets together. It’s always spontaneous between us, which I think is the secret for the unique and very magical connection we share. Who is one DJ that you have mad respect for? Offer Nissim. I love his sound and can’t wait to be back in Tel Aviv and experience him live.

Of all your accomplishments, what you most proud of? My home and my beloved dog Macho are my most prized possessions. Final Pride message to fans? Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for all the support and love. See you on the dancefloor!


DJ Ben Bakson photo by Simon Barnes

his summer’s Pride season has been the busiest of Ben Bakson’s career. It started in Sao Paulo where he performed for over 5000 partygoers at Komplexo Tempo, the city’s new mega club. Then it was off to Toronto Pride where Bakson kicked off the weekend’s celebrations. The next night, he was in San Francisco, headlining the Heat party. Then it was off to New York City to spin Planet Pride, followed by Denver to close out their Pride weekend festivities. “It has been intense but also an incredible experience,” Ben Bakson says from his Miami home. “Every event has been filled with such positive energy. I love to soak it all in and can’t wait for my show in San Diego!” He arrives Saturday, July 16 to headline San Diego Pride’s Coronation Ball. What do you love most about Pride? That everyone celebrates together! The LGBTQ community is divided into so many different, smaller subsets but at this time of year, we all come together as one. Are you excited to return to San Diego? I am so very excited! I have only performed San Diego one time before. I absolutely love the city. The weather is just perfect, everything is beautiful and clean, and the people are incredibly nice. I love how the city is bustling but not overpacked. The last time I played, I stayed only one night and didn’t have the chance to see enough of the city. This time around, I



plan to stay a bit longer so I can get to know more places. Tell us about your latest single,” You Got Me”. It’s a beautiful track about toxic people who drown other people’s energy. You know the type. I produced the song with an incredible singer, OMEO. “Ain‘t Moving On” was also about toxic relationships! Is that intentional? (Laughing) No, it’s not a life-imitating-art kind of thing. Believe it or not, I have actually had pretty great relationships and I still get along with all my exes. I think I have a good radar when it comes to guys. I can sense if their intentions are up to no good.










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Mayor Todd Gloria issued the following statement on the 6-3 Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade: “This is a dark day for our nation. The Supreme Court has failed in its core duty to provide equal justice under the law. A woman’s right to reproductive freedom, including abortion, has been recognized for half a century and now is being rolled back by Justices who are catering to the country’s right-wing extremists. I am outraged and horrified — but undeterred. Here in California and in San Diego, I pledge to do everything within my power to preserve reproductive freedom and the privacy rights every American should be able to enjoy.”


“The Supreme Court has stripped women of their liberty and let red states replace it with mandated birth. This is an attack on American freedom. California, Oregon and Washington are creating the West Coast offensive. A road map for other states to stand up for women. Time to fight like hell!”


“I share this searing fury felt by the majority of Americans who are angry and scared for what this Supreme Court decision means for the lives of their daughters, granddaughters and loved ones. For the lives of everyone who will be left without options as a result of this regressive decision. With this ruling, the Supreme Court has turned its back on safety and equality. But in California, those values remain firmly rooted. Here, pregnant individuals and their families will always be entitled to dignity, understanding, and reproductive choice. During my time running a womens health clinic, I saw first-hand what lack of access meant. I listened to and learned from a distraught mother whose daughter died after an illegal abortion, and helped women understand all their options when they thought they had none. We will not be shoved back into the dark days of desperate decisions. Abortion is health care and the decision to have one lies solely with the patient. California will not leave people vulnerable to the tyranny of a loud minority.”



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“This is a dark day in our country as constitutionally protected rights that have been in place for almost half a century have been erased. This decision will create uncertainty where there was clarity. Today’s ruling is one that none of us hoped to see, but one we all feared could occur. We must use this tremendous setback as motivation. It’s time to fight forward, to fight for what is right, and work together to fight injustices against women and all people. In California, we have safeguards in place to preserve your right to choose. Your reproductive freedom is safe here, and your County is committed to preserving reproductive healthcare and protecting your right to choose.”








find myself in an odd situation and this article is more personal than the last few... I hate the fact that so many in our community are more looks-based than who-a-person-is based, yet here I am working on becoming the best-looking example of me I can create for my upcoming bodybuilding show – and I want to win. An interesting dichotomy to say the least.

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A little context so this makes sense: Throughout my life I have never been the “pretty one”, or the most athletic, or the cutest, etc. A lot of us are probably in the same boat. That’s okay – it’s a great boat to be in because it’s where people work hard together and on their own to create greatness. I work out with several guys and every one of them is “god-like”. There’s, John, my trainer, Keir who was blessed with all the right parts (he works hard on those parts), and Ed who always knows the way to optimize exercise. I am not that, nor will I be – at least I don’t think. So, what is this all about then? Can we be in to hunky, good-looking guys and it be okay? Call it the lust factor, but do we have to get along with everyone? Yes, just about everyone is truly beautiful inside and out, even if they do not come up to the hot AF standard our community sets. I think it all comes down to who you are as the person you are. The same goes for me and all of us. Yes, it’s okay to lust after the “hot one”. We probably would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t. That said, we also must know that people are amazingly hot and sexy for a lot of reasons, not just some artificial standard and that leaves me with my conundrum. I am working hard at becoming the best, hottest version of

myself for what is essentially a beauty contest for guys. Big muscles, the best poses, smiles, and personality. But it is more than that for me. Here’s total honesty. Yes, I want to be the “pretty one” and yes, I want people to look at me and go, gawd, I like that. I want that to happen. That’s about as honest as I know how to be. More than that, though, is how I feel about me on the inside. I have been on this journey for a year, and I have a way to go on the body, but my mind, spirit, and some would say, soul have been healed and I am fully aware of who I am and what I can do. That is no small task. I found that in working out, and now bodybuilding, I get quiet “me-time” to work on my thoughts and body at the same time. I am forever changed by this process physically and mentally. I am down 4 pant sizes; shirts are now tucked in, and my body is showing a lot or progress, but the inside me has grown bigger than I was, and I know I am beautiful and proud of who I am, no matter what anyone else says. That is power that I now own and can never be taken away. I am not the same person in all the ways that matter. Bodybuilding has allowed me to own who I am, maybe for the first time in my life. Find something that can do that for you; it doesn’t have to

be physical but find something you love to do and do it. Make it all about you and make sure you have a team to help you along the way. It is not narcissistic to provide yourself with self-care. It’s okay to be the center of your own universe. If you are not the center of your universe and don’t take care of you, then how can you share who you are and help others? So, what’s the takeaway from all this? Short version – be happy with who you are. If you are not happy then look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What do I need to be happy – truly happy?”, and then do that. Most likely it will not be easy, and it’s not supposed to be, but it is essential. Right now, the world seems to be burning down around us and we are fighting each other more than we are loving each other, and we can each be a moment of change first inside us, and then for others, too. Love yourself first. If you don’t love yourself, find the one thing that makes you joyful, no matter what it is, and then start. I was a disaster physically when I began and now, I am not. You do have to show up though as none of this is magic, it’s a mindset. So, long live the physical hunks, but long live all the hunks that love, help, and share who they are so we can all be better people… together.






Book, Music and Lyrics and Conceived by Karey Kirkpatrick & John O’Farrell Director: Jamie Torcellini Choreographer: Bill Burns Moonlight Amphitheater July 20 - August 6, 2022 /something-rotten

Music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, and a book by Garry Marshall and J. F. Lawton Director & Choreographer: Jerry Mitchel July 26 - July 31, 2022 /pretty-woman-the-musical/

Who doesn’t love Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s classic film Pretty Woman? Well, the musical version of the box office hit is coming to the Civic Center as part of Broadway San Diego’s season. The show features music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, and a book by Garry Marshall and J. F. Lawton. After a short-lived run-on Broadway, Pretty Woman is touring the nation, and my little gay heart is stoked to go see what it’s all about.

The hilarious critically acclaimed musical set in 1595 follows the Bottom brothers in their quest for success in Theatre, while competing with wildly popular writer William Shakespeare. If you’re a fan of irreverent satirical shows like Spamalot and Book of Mormon, you will love this production featuring some of San Diego’s brightest talent.


Music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff Director: Sean Murray Choreographer: Katie Banville Cygnet Theatre July 13 - August 21, 2022 Set in 1929 Berlin during the ascension of the Nazi regime, this Kander and Ebb classic returns to Cygnet after having a successful run there 10 years ago. The musical follows the happenings of jazzy and seedy Kit Kat Klub and its star performer Sally Bowles, alongside American writer Cliff Bradshaw, who falls for the starlet. Other players web a story of despair and debauchery during this tumultuous time in German history. This gender bending masterpiece promises to captivate San Diego audiences with its catchy tunes and engaging storyline.

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux Director: Kerry Meads Choreographer: Colleen Kollar Smith Lamb’s Players Theatre Now through August 28, 2022

Coronado based Lamb’s Players is presenting Rock and Roll/Country jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet, based on a recording session in 1960’s Memphis with superstars Elvis Prestley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The cast of quadruple threats delights audiences with classic songs from the era’s successful catalog. Don’t miss this spectacular production!





Berto Fernández — Berto Fernandez is a Puerto Rican actor, singer, and artist currently performing in Theatre productions all over Southern California. He holds a BA in Communications, and is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community.





olish-Russian Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka is the inspiration for Carson Kreitzer and Matt Gould’s new pop/rock fusion musical Lempicka currently performing its pre-Broadway run at La Jolla Playhouse. The show had a premiere back in 2018 and was set to have a West Coast pre-Broadway run after that, but the global pandemic halted the production until now. The three-hour musical travels through space and time, painting the story of Lempicka, her struggles, her ambition, her lovers, and her determination. Starting in the 1920’s, Lempicka and her husband, a Polish aristocrat, are forced out of Saint Petersburg during the Russian revolution and flee to Paris. The artist, determined to support herself and her family, starts painting, gaining the attention of her art teacher and a wealthy Baron and his wife. During a visit to a lesbian bar, Lempicka discovers her muse in club performer Rafaela, who she eventually falls in love with. Soon after, the Germans invade France, and she decides to escape once more, due to her becoming a target for the Nazi agenda because of her Jewish roots, ending up in California, where she lived the rest of her life. From the start of the show, the initial booming sound of the score shakes your soul to the core, textbook definition of the phrase “starting with a bang”. I had never heard anything quite like it. The paradox between the time of the action and the electronic 90’s synth pop sound oozing out of the orchestra pit are an unconventional marriage that somehow works brilliantly. Rich musical numbers ranging in styles from rock, to jazz, to electronica, amongst others, set the tone of revolution, threading the story. The phenomenal cast, masterfully directed by Rachel Chavkin, delivers moving performances from start to finish. Eden Espinosa brings magnetic honesty to the title role. We are used to gawk and rave about her impressive vocal ability, which are still very much featured, but her connection to this determined woman is palpable and a delight to watch. Amber Iman is an absolute powerhouse as

Eden Espinosa as “Tamara de Lempicka” in La Jolla Playhouse’s production of LEMPICKA; photo by Matthew Murphy.

“We cannot control the world, just a rectangle of canvas”

Andrew Samonsky as “Tadeusz Lempicki” and Eden Espinosa “Tamara de Lempicka” in La Jolla Playhouse’s production of LEMPICKA; photo by Matthew Murphy.

Rafaela, her buttery jazz vocal tone and emotive portrayal are noteworthy. Also fantastic are Andrew Samonsky, as Tadeusz Lempicki, Tamara’s first husband, who wows with a stellar voice and potent acting, and George Abud, as Lempicka’s art teacher, Marinetti, who brings the house down with his impressive song “Perfection”. Another standout in the cast is Natalie Joy Johnson, as club owner Suzy Solidor, her comedic chops and brassy voice are extremely impressive. Rounding out the compelling principal cast are Victor Chan and Jacquelyn Ritz, as Baron and Baroness, and Jordan Tyson, as Kizette. I also must mention that this is one of the strongest ensembles I’ve witnessed on stage in years. They bring crisp movement to Raja Feather Kelly’s dynamic choreography and impeccable vocals to every scene, making them the true heartbeat of the piece. Bravi. The musical features stunning effortless sets by Riccardo Hernández, jaw-dropping neon lighting by Bradley King, and powerful projections by Peter Nigrini. Opulent costumes by Anita Yavich and explosive arrangements and orchestration by Remy Kurs and Cian McCarthy complete a stunning creative portrait. One of the most exciting aspects of the show was the way the characters weave through time and connect with each other seamlessly. Every relationship is driven by passion, desire, and sexual chemistry, all in human composition as art. The moment when Rafaela and Tadeusz meet in the art gallery admiring the work of

the woman, they both love and discover “what she sees” in each of them, I thought was clever and interesting as a point of view. The first act has a great pace and impactful story, and the second act dives more into each character’s emotional struggles, which as important as it is, I believe the act could use some trimming and revisiting to keep the action moving. Throughout the performance, the theme of women empowerment rings supreme; such a crucial message for our current world to hear. Lempicka says, “We cannot control the world, just a rectangle of canvas.” A mighty statement to bring awareness to how our personal situation affects the big picture. So be a relentless LGBTQ social warrior, grab a brush, dip it in some luscious paint, and pour your heart into the universal canvas. We need it now, more than ever.

‘Lempicka’ is presented by La Jolla Playhouse with performances June 14 through July 24 at the Mandell Weiss Theater in La Jolla. Tickets and info:










They Are Human by Teemstir

By LGBTQ San Diego County News Staff


by LGBTQ+ artists is one of the few unfiltered creative expressions that finds its source in self, relationships and community,” said The Studio Door gallery owner Patric Stillman. “It’s gift to the viewer is direct communication from an individual who sparkles in complexity like a diamond. A very personal dialogue between artist and viewer is created that often explores ideas that may be challenging to express in a verbal conversation. When I opened The Studio Door, I knew that I wanted to include the opportunity for my community to showcase their artistry alongside of their contemporaries. More importantly, I saw a need for national opportunities for LGBTQ+ artists to be seen and to share how they present themselves to the world.” This time of year, our community’s artists can be seen in a variety of art exhibits in conjunction with PRIDE including Art of Pride’s art village during San Diego’s Pride Festival and at established galleries like Sparks Gallery downtown. Stillman sees The Studio Door’s PROUD+ visual arts exhibition as something different among these celebrations. With each exhibition since it started in 2017, the gallery is developing a multi-year portrait of the community’s struggles for representation through a growing collection of exhibition catalogs. These catalogs are available to virtually flip through on their website. “I have often wondered with the great diversity among us what connects us, other than being classified as not “straight”. Being so close to the participating artists and their works over the years, I have begun to understand the profound sameness that we feel being ostracized from both hetero and homonormative culture, the complexity of expressing our intimacy and the fluidity of selfunderstanding.” Stillman believes that everyone who experiences the exhibit will walk away with a feeling of connection. This year’s exhibit was curated with the support of Alyssa Nitchun, Executive Director of The Leslie Lohman Museum of Art (NYC). The Museum is the only dedicated LGBTQ+ art museum in the world with a mission to exhibit and preserve LGBTQ+ art and foster the artists who create it. In prior years, the gallery has collaborated with ONE Archives at USC Libraries (Los Angeles, CA), Stonewall National Museum and Archives (Fort Launderdale/ Wilton Manors, FL), and Visual AIDS (NYC). Each organization is committed to documenting LGBTQ+ history, culture and arts.

Glam by Chad Berwald

Men in the Mirror by Tim Weedlun

Reverie by Colette Hebert

Transition by Minnie Valero

PROUD+ 2022 The exhibition will continue to run through July 30, 2022, with an artist reception on Saturday, July 2nd from 6 - 9 PM. It will also hold a special evening in conjunction with Hillcrest Business Association’s monthly Walk in Art in Mural Alley, directly behind the gallery, on Thursday, July 7 from 6 - 9 PM. The exhibition is free to the public. The Studio Door gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from Noon to 7 PM. Recently, the gallery has also introduced additional hours Sunday and Monday from Noon to 4 PM with Metalsmith Matthew Cirello. The gallery is located at 3867 4th Avenue around the corner from the Hillcrest sign. This year’s exhibition includes over 60 artworks presented from artists working in 13 U.S. States, including: Joseph Abbati, Brock Archer, Brandin Barón, Chad Berwald, Nathaniel Bice, Laicee Blackwell, Pierre Bounaud, John Breitweiser, Nathan Carroll, Maurice Cassidy, Lance Chang, Jacob Clayton, Ariel Cooper, Joan Cox, Roy de Vries. Yvette Deas, Darren Domingo, David Dumo, Stevan Dupus, Brett Dyer, Nicholas Ebakidze, Matthew Finley, C Fodoreanu, Irwin Freeman, Colette Hebert, Gerard Huber, Dean Jester, Nikki Kelsay, Tali Lopez, Sooltan Madsen, Michael McFadden, Todd Muffatti, MisterOsborne, Richard Poulin, Danne Sadler, Dan Simoneau, Smittybones, Syd Stevens, Teemstir, Minnie Valero, Tim Weedlun, Alisa White, Danielle Wogulis, Hugo Ximello-Salido and Paul F. Yount.

Wayne by Maurice Cassidy

MS6263 by Lance Chang

Pride & Passion by Danne Sadler





You Are Gay by Nathan Carroll The Mystical Aberration by Paul F. Yount

How Many Fifths by Jacob Clayton

Laws Of Attraction by Richard Poulin

Essence by Brian Smith Dating in Covid by Alisa White

Love Decoded by Michael McFadden

Modern Narcissus by Dan Simoneau

Recognizing that limitations of gallery space and the costs of shipping across the country, The Studio Door includes an online portion of the exhibition which can be seen on the website as well as on monitors with the gallery during the exhibition. Online visitors will also be treated to two short videos by filmmakers Azi Nur (San Francisco, CA) who identifies as Lesbian and Edward Steffanni (Mechanicsburg, OH) who identifies as Gay.

Ambassadors by Yvette Deas

Meat Inspector by Brock Archer

SUPPORTING THE ARTS Artist Stefan Talian

Contemplation by Stefan Talian

Alyssa Nitchun selected three artworks of exceptional quality, including Self Portrait- How Many Fifths of a Man Am I? by Jacob Clayton (Rockport, ME) who identifies as Transgender; Dating in COVID by Alisa White (Greenbelt, MD) who identifies as Queer; and Ambassadors by local artist Yvette Deas who identifies as Lesbian. These works can be seen in the gallery along with The Studio Door’s pick for featured artist Stefan Talian [Editors note: Talian was featured last month in our Artist Profile series and can be read on our website]. Love Is by Joan Cox

In addition to being on exhibit at the gallery, all the artwork this year is also available for sale. Stillman asks the community to consider buying art, which financially supports and emotionally encourages our brothers and sisters to continue to express their lives through their artwork. “Visibility from the artists who live across the spectrum of our rainbow is so important! It inspires us. It gives us strength to be true to ourselves. It allows us to connect to each other. I hope that San Diego takes the time to stop by to see what our community has to say through the visual arts and walk away feeling a little bit closer.”




Local Pride Proclamations continued from Page 8

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“We must fight every fight, local or national, for inclusion because we can’t take for granted that our progress is linear.” In Vista, Councilmember Corinna Contreras, who also serves on the North County LGBTQ Resource Center Board of Directors, introduced the proposal to raise the Pride Progress flag, which passed unanimously, in an emotional meeting with many speakers celebrating the progress towards inclusivity. This support throughout the month underscores the 15 years of community building and progress that Pride by the Beach has helped bring about through their annual celebration. It also continues themes from the Center’s 10-year anniversary gala, in October 2021, which celebrated ten years since they first opened their doors to serve the community. While many will celebrate these accomplishments, especially for those from these communities, some may still argue that these proclamations are just empty words which give politicians an opportunity to grandstand without actually helping our community. While a proclamation, by itself, may not create the systemic change we seek to create in the world, those proclamations serve multiple purposes. Seeking and receiving a proclamation creates a platform for queer folks to speak before municipal bodies and accept the proclamations while also sharing why this is so personal to them. In Escondido, Jet Finnell, Pride volunteer leader, shared about growing up in the area and never believing they would have such an opportunity before the council. Disposti, Pride Director Lisa Nava, and I each also got to speak at both in-person and virtual council chambers to accept these proclamations. This process of working with

elected officials and staff to draft and issue these proclamations helps build working relationships which can be revisited to advance other issues, ensure elected official participation in community events, and to hold them accountable if they fail to live up to the values they espoused during Pride Month. Most importantly, proclamations create and hold Queer space in places where our community has historically been shut out or even when allowed in, only tolerated. These moments are our time to reflect on progress, locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally, while reaffirming our commitment to do more to support LGBTQIA+ rights at home and abroad. Despite these moments of progress, we know these steps are made along the landscape of ongoing, relentless attacks on our community, especially our most vulnerable, our Trans youth. While record number local proclamations were issued for Pride Month here locally, we know that nationally, record-number anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been introduced and are making their way to codify hate and discrimination in school boards and state legislative bodies around the country. Now, with the dismantling of nationally recognized abortion protections, we understand even more clearly the connections in our collective fight for bodily autonomy and hope that more folks than ever are galvanized to ensure representation and inclusion at every table. And we must fight every fight, local or national, for inclusion because we can’t take for granted that our progress is linear.




Lonnie James Crawford (courtesy image)



neighbor of Mayor Todd Gloria who fired a single gunshot during a protest outside Gloria’s home has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner.

Lonnie James Crawford, 38, will be sentenced July 6 in San Diego Superior Court. He remains free on $100,000 bond. Court records say he is likely to get up to six months in custody in a work furlough center


as Crawford has filled out an application to qualify in the work furlough program. This means he would be able to go to work during the day and go to the furlough center at night and on weekends. The center may be a locked facility. Judge Polly Shamoon took his guilty plea on May 31. If Crawford doesn’t qualify for the center, he would face up to 180 days in jail. A charge of possession of a drug while armed was dismissed after he pleaded guilty to the other charge. The incident occurred Aug. 30, 2021, while people were picketing outside Gloria’s apartment building in Mission Hills about homelessness. Protesters said police were too tough with the homeless and they wanted to send a message to the mayor. No one was injured by the shot as Crawford apparently fired it in the air. But he drove his truck through the crowd too close to protesters, some said. No charges were filed about his driving. Gloria issued a statement after the protest saying whoever fired the gun was not associated with the protest. He said he was glad the police arrested someone who fired a gun. Gloria noted the constitutional right to peacefully assemble and protest without fear of being attacked. The case illustrates a problem with picketing public officials at their homes. There are other surrounding people affected and you cannot control what other people will do or how they will react. This protest will be remembered for what else happened.

Big Mike & Friends: DJ Taj continued from Page 12 myself to ensure my survival in this crazy thing that we call life that can be full of pitfalls and setbacks - One’s that can potentially lead you down that wrong road if you don’t protect yourself with the strengthening & healing shield of self-love!

DJ Taj (courtesy image)

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? I never truly got the saying “If you don’t love yourself, no one else will” until just recently. You truly, truly must advocate for your own happiness in life. You can’t expect nor rely on anyone else to provide that love and happiness for you! The only way you can truly set yourself up for success in life is if you take control of your destiny and provide that self-love that we all so desperately need and require. Because if you truly have self-love, you will never allow yourself to do anything that would harm you or willingly lead yourself down a dead-end path that could put you and your future in harm’s way. So, I am choosing to love

Gratitude is so important in each of our lives, what are you most grateful for, and how do you pay it forward? I don’t mean to keep harping on this last year, and I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for it... I wouldn’t wish what happened to me and what followed on to anyone! What I am grateful for however is that I did manage to find the inner strength to pull myself out of the deepest and darkest depression that I’ve ever experienced - One that almost killed me. I honestly didn’t believe I would survive it, but I did, and I bounced back stronger and better than before. I have a newfound positive perspective on life that I didn’t have before my crash and burn. I’m grateful for all those people in my life that just wouldn’t let me slip through the cracks and didn’t give up or turn their backs on me, no matter how dark I became! Most importantly, I’m grateful that I’m alive and I get to be here another day to try to make this world a better place or maybe even

a little bit brighter for someone else that’s going through something similar. How will I pay it forward? I guess by being the best version of myself that I can humanly be! With self-love comes the ability to truly love or care for others... And that’s half the battle in itself. I guess I will pay it forward by sharing my story to those who need to hear it someday and hopefully help them find their inner strength even though they can’t see it in whatever dark road their journey takes them on. I want to be someone else’s little beacon of light. At the end of the day, it will be their decision to walk towards that light but if I can provide any little shred of insight or clarity to lead them in the right direction... Even just one person, then it would give the senseless tragedy I went through meaning or a higher purpose so that it didn’t just randomly happen in vain! Taj Altaji Soundcloud: /djtajofficial Instagram: @DJTajOfficial Facebook: DJ Facebook: