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suBaru of eL Cajon Goes Hollywood with A Lot of Heart P18

ConversaTions wiTh niCoLe The Best Dressed list of 2021 P7

Big Mike & friends Featuring Javier Gómez P8

Life Beyond Therapy How To Be Happier P10

poziTiveLy MiChaeL The Trials and Tribulations of My Pozitively Happy Life P12

arTisT profiLe: Drew Blair P16


Erik Benson New Creative Director for Walk In A.R.T. and Cityfest P19


PUblic Service

Pride rePorT

a noTe froM Toni June is Another Busy Month! P6

Spirit of Stonewall Awardees P13

coUrT newS


Metropolitan Community Church Reopens P15

Gay Man Gets 4 Years in Federal Prison P12

north CountY prIdE

Pride bY The beach

SeaSon Sea SeaS on KicK-off

announCES EquItY torCh rElaY and prIdE Month CElEbratIonS


ith the rise in violence against our transgender siblings and BIPOC communities, uniting against hate has never been more urgent. Together, Pride by the Beach and the North County LGBTQ Resource Center dedicate Pride Month 2021 as a time for us to speak out against all stereotypes, biases, microaggressions, and xenophobia, and to take action to end the violence and hate unleashed by white supremacy. We invite participants to join our Equity Torch Relay to help create a sense of awareness and allyship for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex community who embody our regions rich history of courage, spirit, achievement, and activism. The Equity Torch will be carried by social justice supporters and neighbors across the North San Diego County cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido, Vista and San Marcos.



Support BuSiNESSES that SuPPorT and ADvocATE for uS By Jason mccallister t seems like you see them every summer: memes shared on social media poking fun at corporations that support the LGBTQ+ community. It has almost become trendy to make jokes about businesses identifying themselves as pro-LGBTQ+ for the month of June. Companies rainbow-ify their corporate logos, place ads in community newspapers and magazines, and go to great lengths to be perceived as friendly to LGBTQ+ customers. Public opinion has shifted over the past few years so that more brands are comfortable aligning themselves with the LGBTQ+ community.





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& MORE ...




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VIp dElEgatIon tourS

The USnS harveY MilK San Diego Mayor ToDD Gloria “When I began my career in public service nearly 20 years ago, the idea of a naval ship bearing the name of an openly Gay American seemed like a distant dream. As the first Gay man elected as San Diego’s mayor, touring the USNS Harvey Milk was a moving experience and a testament to the dedication of leaders in the LGBTQ community to ensure that Harvey Milk’s legacy of fighting for equality lives on.”

California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. aTkinS, Senator 39th District “Pride came early for me this year, when I was honored to take a tour of the USNS Harvey Milk on May 21, the eve of what would have been Harvey’s 91st birthday. I was there to commemorate the start of the ship’s construction in 2019 at San Diego’s NASSCO shipyard, and what a humbling experience to be able to walk the decks and look out at the city I love, standing alongside LGBTQ elected officials, community members and allies from our community. I think Harvey would be proud, too, having served as a Naval diving instructor and stationed in San Diego. As someone who comes from a military family and now represents this region and its rich military history, I view the USNS Harvey Milk as a vessel of hope.”

California assemblymember ChriS WarD, 78Th District “Touring the USNS Harvey Milk, the second of the newly ordered John Lewis class of replenishment ships, was an honor and a privilege,” said Assemblymember Ward. “Harvey was a trailblazer, whose legacy continues to inspire new generations of LGBTQ+ leaders across the nation.”

San Diego City Council President Pro Tempore STePhen WhiTburn, 3rd District “Seeing this giant Navy ship being named for Harvey Milk made clear what an impressive honor it is. Nicole Murray-Ramirez and all those who successfully achieved this recognition for an LGBT icon deserve our community’s gratitude.”

Former San Francisco Supervisor bevan DuFTy “The scale of USNS Harvey Milk exceeded my imagination, but it is more monumental that a ship is named for a Gay icon who was dishonorably discharged for being Gay.”

Terry SiDie, uSaF Combat veteran; business owner; Publisher of lGbTq San Diego County news; Co-Chair of The international Court Council “As a Vietnam vet, it was truly an honor to tour this historic ship. And as a leader in the International Imperial Court System who led the national letter-writing campaign to the Secretary of the Navy, I salute and thank our 70 city chapters.”

bob lehMan, uSMC Combat veteran; Director of Sales and Marketing, Phoenix Theatre of indianapolis “When I was an active-duty Marine, I never imagined that someday the military would honor a Gay rights pioneer like Harvey Milk in such a big, powerful and symbolic way. Our LGBTQ+ community must never forget that just 10 years ago, Gay people in the military were hunted, harassed and fired for being Gay. It took decades of work, much of it by LGBTQ+ veterans in San Diego, to repeal the ban on Gays serving in the military. The USNS Harvey Milk is a monument to Harvey Milk, but also to the courage and persistence of Gay veterans who fought for our freedom to openly serve our country.”




roberT GleaSon, President and Chief Executive Officer, evans hotels; California State Commissioner “It was thrilling to celebrate this Harvey Milk Day and watch history in the making by touring the U.S. Navy ship named in his honor being built right here in San Diego. Thanks to the USNS Harvey Milk and the John Lewis class of ships named for civil rights leaders, generations of young people will realize that, as Harvey himself said, ‘the doors are open to everyone.’”

Caroline (Cara) DeSSerT, Ceo, The San Diego lGbT Community Center “Progress always comes more slowly than we hope for, but there are moments like this — when a man who was kicked out of the Navy for being Gay is honored in this monumental way — which is so joyful and is the kind of symbol and beacon that gives so many still struggling for acceptance the hope we need to fight on.”

Will roDriGuez-kenneDy, uSMC Combat veteran; Chairman, San Diego County Democratic Party; Committeeman (Ca), Democratic national Committee; Commissioner, County of San Diego Civil Service Commission “Our country has come a long way from the dark days of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ where thousands of service members served in silence and were ejected from service based on unconstitutional discrimination for the very fact of who they loved. With the naming and building of this naval ship, the USNS Harvey Milk, the Navy and the United States pay tribute to a veteran who served his country honorably and honors the thousands of LGBTQ+ service members who serve this country that we may benefit from the blessings of liberty, equity, and justice”

MorGan M. hurley, uSn DPC (reT) “It was incredible being able to tour the USNS Harvey Milk with his gracious nephew Stuart and other attending dignitaries in honor of Harvey’s 91st birthday. I’ve seen many online think it’s a contradiction to put Harvey’s name on a Naval ship; but this is not a combatant, it is an auxiliary ship that’s duty is to support the entire fleet around the world, which is the perfect honor for Harvey. While there I was also able to see the USNS John Lewis, named after the late congressperson who stood for #GoodTrouble. Harvey and John led similar fights and put their lives on the line for equality. It’s only fitting they are the first two of the six John Lewis class Military Sealift Command T-AO auxiliary ships to be launched.

leTTer To The ediTor I am writing in hopes of bringing awareness to guns being kept in homes where residents suffer from psychological problems and/or have issues with drugs and/or alcohol. My ex-boyfriend, “G”, was living with a relative and used that relative’s gun to shoot himself in the head in April of last year; his body wasn’t found until the next day. I did not find out until April of this year. G had been ignoring me for many months before his suicide. Free rent is never worth the risk of taking your own life with a gun! G called me from a new phone number on a random day in early 2020, but we got into an argument on another phone call a couple days later when I told him that I would never be romantically involved with him again. He canceled both of his phone numbers within an hour of our last phone call and I thought he just wanted to ignore me again and make sure I could not call him. I had tried calling him and both numbers were canceled. I wish I had strongly advised G not to move to his relative’s house (knowing there were guns in the home) when he moved out of my home after our breakup in 2015. We were in a relationship and lived together for almost two years. We were “engaged” briefly and were planning at one point on spending the rest of our lives together. I was his last relationship and he was also my last relationship. G was substantially intoxicated when he died. Toxicology reports say his alcohol level

was 0.17 and the test for benzodiazepines came back as “presumptive positive.” It is an outrage that his relative kept guns in the house knowing G had threatened suicide, had psychological issues and problems with his medication and alcohol. I was told by his family that he died from an adverse reaction to medication. Through my own investigating of public records, I found out the true story. Mental health is part of your overall health and there is help out there! There is the San Diego County Access and Crisis Line (888-7247240). I wish I had made G save that number in his phone in case the time ever came where he seriously contemplated suicide. I have personally used that line over the years for short sessions and extra support when I was facing very emotionally charged situations. It is a very helpful tool. Signed in Remembrance of G, “b”


LGBTQ San Diego County News encourages letters to the editor and guest editorials. Please email them directly to editor@lgbtqsd. news and include your name, phone number and address for verification.

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PUblic Service / oPinion


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

a noTe froM Toni

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Nicole Murray Ramirez nicolemrsd1@gmail.com 619.241.5672

Toni G. atkins

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Cesar A. Reyes creativedirector@lgbtqsd.news

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

EDITOR JP Emerson editor@lgbtqsd.news


une means summer’s coming. That’s one of the times of year that reminds us what a truly remarkable place we live in. June is also the month we celebrate Father’s Day, and while I lost my Dad many years ago, I am still grateful to him for so many things. My Dad worked until he ached to keep a roof over our heads. And sometimes, after he was done working and my sister and I were getting ready for bed, he would tell us about this sleepy little place on the California coast called “San Diego” that he had been stationed during World War II. This summer is a critical time for all the work we have been doing to help more folks get a roof over their heads. With our June 15th constitutional deadline approaching, the Senate is finalizing the details of a bold state budget that includes historic funding levels for housing and homelessness, on top of major investments in recent years. Summer is also the time for remaining bills to be acted on before the legislature adjourns this year’s session in September. That means many of the bills in the Senate’s Housing Production package, which I’ve highlighted here before, have passed the Senate and will soon face critical votes in the Assembly. I’m very pleased that one of those bills, my SB 7, was just signed into law by Governor Newsom on May 20. SB 7 extends California’s effective AB 900 CEQA streamlining process, which lapsed last January, through the end of 2025. SB 7 also expands the process so it applies to much smaller housing projects, lowering the threshold to qualify to $15 million.

SALES sales@lgbtqsd.news 858.886.9458

JunE IS anothEr BuSy Month! SB 7 also requires that to be eligible, projects must have at least 15% lower-cost housing, be infill projects, and meet environmental and labor safeguards. While we are working to add the housing units California desperately needs, we are also taking steps to protect the special characteristics that brought so many of us to our neighborhoods and communities in the first place. That’s especially true when it comes to SB 9, my bill to build upon California’s successful Accessory Dwelling Unit, or “Granny Flat” law. This bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan 28-6 vote. SB 9 streamlines the process for a homeowner to create a duplex or subdivide an existing lot. SB 9 also includes important protections many people asked for in a previous version of the bill, including the limitation that it would only allow up to four units. Any new housing created as a result of SB 9 must meet a specific list of qualifications that protects historic districts, preserve environmen-

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Big Mike Phillips Bmsd1957@gmail.com 619.807.7324 courtesy image

tal quality and the look of communities, and prevent tenants from being displaced. San Diego may never again be a sleepy little village on the coast, but we can absolutely make sure our communities remain the kind of magical places any little girl would dream about living. Sadly, as we’ve seen so much lately with vaccinations and elections, there has been a significant amount of misinformation being spread about SB 9. So, if you see something, particularly on social media, and you think, “I don’t believe Toni would do that,” chances are you are right! To me, one of the most exciting things about SB 9 is the opportunities it provides for more homeowners to build intergenerational wealth—to create a duplex or add an ADU and then have a little something they can pass on to their kids and grandkids. The way my hardworking dad would have done if he’d had the chance.

WEB AND SOCIAL MEDIA info@lgbtq.news CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Big Mike Phillips Jason McCallister Michael Guadarrama Michael Kimmel Neal Putnam Patric Stillman Randall Blaum 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 editor@lgbtqsd.news and include your name, phone number and address for verification. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and accuracy. Letters and guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers or staff. SUBMISSION/NEWS TIPS Press releases and story ideas are welcomed. Send press releases, tips, photos or story ideas to editor@lgbtqsd.news. For breaking news and Investigative story ideas, contact the editor by phone or email. Copyright © 2021 LGBTQ San Diego County News Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this publication’s editorial and opinion pages are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of LGBTQ San Diego County News. The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.

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Paris quion

As a designer, entertainer and business owner, of course Paris would be on top of any best-dressed list, she is FLAWLESS!

Moe and Dawn From head to toe, this couple dresses for success and trendsetting.

nicole Murray ramirez

katherine Stuart Faulconer

Technically still our First Lady of San Diego, she reigns as the best-dressed First Lady ever, period!

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

Shane harris

Darnelle Williams

He could easily be a JET Magazine cover model!

erial M. Carino

This guy is always a walking cover model for any men’s fashion magazine.

Javier Gómez

This top mayor’s aide has it all: he’s smart, handsome and has a great fashion sense.

nicole’S annUal San dieGo Go o

bESt d d drESSEd lISt 2021

You can like or dislike his politics, but you cannot deny he is probably the best-dressed civil rights leader in Southern California.

Chad Michaels This superstar not only looks exactly like Cher but he also has her impeccable taste for fashion.

Julia legaspi For decades, still the Filipina Goddess.

nathan Fletcher

He always looked good in his Marine uniform, and as the chair of the San Diego Board of Supervisors, he looks just as good in business attire.

Joshua kessler

If you looked up “macho” in the Spanish dictionary, you would see a picture of him dressed handsomely.

Glitz Glam Greika and anthony rollar Greika

One of San Diego’s most popular power couples, they are indeed best at being a versatile dressing couple.



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Photo by Rikke Photography

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

Javier GóMez


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 that I think would be interesting for our readers to enjoy. San Diego has wonderfully diverse individuals that make our slice of paradise the greatest place to live and en joy ea ch ot her ’s uniquen es s. how did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it? Like many San Diegans, I chose to make San Diego my home; once you move here, it is really hard to leave! I moved here in 2009 to attend SDSU and I fell in love with the unique neighborhoods, the beaches and the diversity in this wonderful city. There are so many things I love about San Diego, it’s really hard to pick just one; if I had to choose, I would say it is the people that make San Diego so special. From community leaders, activists, elected officials and members of our community, San Diegans make this city beautiful and one of a kind! What gets you most excited about life? I like being outdoors: the beach, hiking, sailing, kayaking, and biking. I love to cook — mainly French and Mexican cuisine, but I like to fuse different styles of cooking; lately I’ve been doing Italian and Mexican-fused dishes. I love the theater — there is nothing like watching a live performance; you can feel the emotion through the acting, the energy from the audience and the reverberation of the live singing is exhilarating. I really enjoy reading, I’ve always been a big reader ever since I was little. You could find me with two or three books on me; when I was misbehaving, my parents would threaten to take my books away instead of grounding me — it worked every time! I really like design and aesthetic — making things look nice whether that’s making a floral arrangement, designing a tables cape or putting an outfit together for a special occasion, I love every aspect of design. I grew up with music so I sing — nothing outstanding but I like doing it. Of course, traveling — I live for new experiences. I also enjoy the little things: snorkeling, spending time with friends and family, a good brunch, dancing and working out. I also like hosting dinner parties, nothing like a good meal, wine and friends! as a business person, what makes your job stand out and how has it changed your life? I am lucky enough to work for the first Person of Color elected to the mayor’s office and the first openly Gay mayor of San Diego: Mayor Todd Gloria. My official tittle is senior advisor. I have always felt a calling to public service. I am lucky enough to serve my community and work every day to make this city a better place for all San Diegans. My life immediately changed for

Javier Gomez (courtesy image)

What small act of kindness were you once shown that you’ll never forget? I will never forget how my best friend Jessica in middle school and high school constantly defended and was relentless in ensuring I was never bullied. She constantly hushed the whispers the moment anyone even insinuated I may be Gay. This was not a small task and she did her best to make sure I didn’t know what was going on — even though I did. I know this was not a small act of kindness, but a huge feat! In hearing so many different stories from my friends in the community, I know my experience was rare and I have her to thank for that.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Javier Gomez (courtesy image)

the better when I started working for Mayor Gloria – then Assemblymember Gloria. Seeing an openly Gay man and Person of Color serving as an elected official broke open doors for me that for so long I had assumed were closed. Working in an environment with a mentor like Mayor Gloria uninhibited my inhibitions and allowed me to become my true self. Working every day to make San Diego a more equitable place for everyone to be able to work and play is the reason I wake up in the morning and why I love my job.

if the universe could grant you one wish, what would you wish for, and why? If I could be granted one wish, it would be that people had empathy for one another — if we could be more understanding of one another, I think a lot of the problems we face as a civilization would be better dealt with. Everyone has their own unique journey; we deal and face adversity, trauma, privileges which dictates our behaviors and reactions when dealing with conflict. Being understanding of others would allow for a more compassionate and loving society.

if you were given the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world, and was able to take one person with you, where would you go, who would you take and why? If I could travel anywhere in the world, it would be to Australia with my mom. I love adventure! Being outdoors in nature and out of fluorescent lights is my happy place. Growing up my mom has always been my biggest advocate and supporter — her and my dad worked to constantly ensure my siblings and I were able to accept any opportunity that came our way. One of the greatest joys I have in life is seeing my mom as a friend and parent, not just a parent. We are able to talk and share opinions with one another and have indepth conversations on how we view the world. She is also just as adventurous as I am and a great travel partner! if you had a chance to spend $1 million on someone, or any group of people, who would it be and how would you spend that money to better them? If I could spend $1 million, it would be to help our homeless service providers with outreach to those living on the streets. Resources and compassionate outreach connecting those living on the streets would help connect them to services and into permanent supportive housing. continues on Page 14


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


merica ranked 19th in the U.N.’s most recent World Happiness Report, behind happier places like Finland (No. 1), Australia (No. 12) and Canada (No. 15). And yet, we Americans think that we know what would make us happy. Last week, a client told me, “I’m pretty happy now. But if I had the perfect partner and a beautiful home, I’d be even happier.” As a psychotherapist, I’ve been doing a lot of research on “how to be happier.” Here’s some of what I’ve discovered: Take a few minutes and make a list of things you think would make you happier. They can be big things (a raise, moving to a new city, a new partner) or small (a new haircut). When you’ve finished your list, get ready for a surprise. Research has found that nearly everything you think will make you happier won’t, because — assuming that your basic life needs are taken care of — you are looking for a change in circumstances (more money, a different home or job or a great vacation) to make you happier.

how To be haPPier

HiNT: It’S not about ChangIng Your CIrCuMStanCES Your mind tells you that if you just got those things, you’d be happier. But your mind is wrong. According to science,

there are certain habits that are consistent among happy people, for example: Happy people devote time to fam-

The Benjamin F. Dillingham, III & Bridget Wilson LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor The San Diego LGBT Community Center is excited to announce that applications for the Benjamin F. Dillingham, III & Bridget Wilson LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor are now live and the deadline to submit them is Saturday, July 31st.

The LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor recognizes LGBTQ veterans who served under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and transgender and nonbinary veterans, all with ties to San Diego. The idea for the Wall was conceived by City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, and was created with the generous support of veterans Benjamin F. Dillingham, III and Bridget Wilson. Thought to be the first of its kind to honor LGBTQ veterans, the Wall of Honor was unveiled at The Center November 10, 2011. By serving our country honorably, and with distinction, each veteran honored as part of this Wall of Honor has served as a role model for advancing equality for all. The LGBTQ Veterans Wall commemorates these veterans’ lives in hopes that their courage, bravery and sacrifices will continue to inspire future generations.

To learn about nomination criteria, the application process, and to find the application link itself, please visit: thecentersd.org/about/ wall-of-honor/lgbt-veteran-wall/

The San Diego LGBT Community Center 3909 Centre Street 619-692-2077 www.thecentersd.org

ily and friends. They practice gratitude, optimism and are physically active. They savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment (as my meditation teacher has repeatedly told me). “What about money?” you may ask. Research shows that once our basic needs are met, the relationship between money and happiness is purely theoretical. And isn’t it ironic that an abundance of money is considered a status symbol, while an abundance of time is considered shameful? Research shows that happiness is a mind-set we can cultivate, not a condition we “achieve.” Why are self-help books, mindfulness classes and meditation retreats so popular? We think they’ll help us to “control” our happiness. If only that were true… A lot of my clients think of happiness as a constant state of excitement. At the ripe old age of 67, I have found that lasting happiness is more like equanimity, contentment…a kind of quiet joy. It’s not like winning the lottery. It’s more like sitting quietly and noticing that your life is actually pretty damn good. We are raised to think that happiness comes from big or transformative experiences, but we neglect how we can be happier ways on a daily basis. One study I read found that the best way to be happier is to spend a little money — say, $25 to $50 — on a time-saving service. For example, instead of fighting with your partner over whose turn it is to do the laundry, hire a laundry service. Replace that time arguing with making a meal together or going for a walk with someone you love. Another study I read surveyed millionaires, asking them, “One a scale of one to 10,

image by shutterstock.com

how much more money would you need to be a perfect ‘10’ in happiness?” People with $1 million said, “Three times as much.” However, people with $3 million also said, “Three times as much.” It’s not how much money you have (or don’t have), it’s how you feel about it. If you have $100,000 in the bank, you can feel “I’m rich” or poor, e.g., “My friends make so much more than I do; what’s wrong with me?”

WanT To be haPPier? Try TheSe SCienCe-baSeD SuGGeSTionS: • Every day, for the next week, write down at least five things you’re grateful for. These can be big things (your wonderful partner) or small things (your hair looks good today). • The next time you feel unhappy, put down your phone. Two of the best rewards, happiness-wise: starting a conversation with a stranger and/or being more present in the moment. • Meditating, sleeping at least seven hours a night — for a minimum of three nights in a row — and being responsible for a living creature (dog, cat or plant) have also shown to contribute to happiness.

Try some of the above happiness-related ideas and get ready for the happiest summer you’ve ever had!


corporate Pride continued from Page 1

Exposure and representation matter, so it is usually positive when ads and commercials include LGBTQ+ people. But to be clear, including Gay people in marketing or selling to Gay consumers is not the same as supporting the LGBTQ+ community. With so much saturation, are the businesses really standing in solidarity with LGBTQ+ causes or are they just opportunistically trying to make a buck? At this time of year specifically, many companies sell products designed to cater to the LGBTQ+ buyer. You will find unicorn graphics on clothing, glitter on home goods, and rainbow colors on food and beverage items. A portion of the sale of many Pride-themed products gets donated to LGBTQ+ charities so buying these Gay-themed products can add up to significant donations each year. Better than donating a portion of sales on certain products, many corporations donate set dollar amounts that are not conditioned on any Pride-themed promotions. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN); the Trevor Project; and dozens of other national nonprofit organizations receive funding from corporate grants. These organizations help our community in so many different ways, but they all depend on corporate sponsorship to operate. Often, corporate support is a very good thing and, in many cases, corporate support is not something new. Some corporations have been backing our community decades, long before doing so was popular. The brands below are some that have advocated and supported the LGBTQ+ community for more than 25 years. Absolut, the Swedish vodka brand, started abSoluT, the Swedish vodka brand, advocating for the LGBTQ+ in 1981 started advocating for thecommunity LGBTQ+ commuandnity began advertising directly to the community in 1981 and began advertising directly to the community in theissame year. Absolut in the same year. Absolut a founding member is aGLAAD foundingMedia member of thesponsors GLAAD no Media of the Awards, less Awards, sponsorsfilm no less than three LGBTQ than three LGBTQ festivals, and was one of festivals, andof was one of the original thefilm original backers “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The backers of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The comcompany claims to have donated more than$40 $40 pany claims to have donated more than million to LGBTQ+ causes including OUTserve, million to LGBTQ+ causes including OUTOUTFEST, and God’sand Love We Deliver. serve, OUTFEST, God’s Love We Deliver. Starbucks beganbegan offering full health benefits STarbuCkS offering full health forpartnerships same-sex partnerships incompany’s 1988. forbenefits same-sex in 1988. The The company’s resource wasand LGBTQ+ resourceLGBTQ+ group was foundedgroup in 1996 inmarched 1996 andinthe marched thefounded company itscompany first Pride parade in in its first Pride parade in 1998. The company 1998. The company created a support system for created a support system for Transgender Transgender staff inbegan 2007 and begangender covering genstaff in 2007 and covering reasdersignment reassignment surgery in 2013. The company surgery in 2013. The company filed filed briefs with Supreme Court opposition briefs with thethe Supreme Court in in opposition to the Defense of Marriage ActAct in 2013. to the Defense of Marriage in 2013. WellS FarGo offering benefits to Wells Fargo beganbegan offering benefits to same-sex same-sex partners 1988. The bank createdrepartners in 1988. Thein bank created an LGBTQ an LGBTQ resource group employees source group for employees infor 1992. The bank was in 1992. The bank was the first the first financial institution to joinfinancial the National institution to join the National Gay & Lesbian Gay & Lesbian Chamber ofand Commerce and actively Chamber of Commerce actively seeks seeks LGBTQ-owned businesses as vendors out out LGBTQ-owned businesses as vendors andand suppliers. Long before Gay marriage was suppliers. Long before Gay marriage was legal, thethe bank was focused on on financial planning legal, bank was focused financial planforning LGBTQ+ partnerships. for LGBTQ+ partnerships. ben&&Jerry’s Jerry’S is to said befirst the company first Ben is said be to the in in the state of Vermont to offer full thecompany state of Vermont to offer full health benefits benefits for same-sex partnerships forhealth same-sex partnerships in 1989. The company in 1989. The company awarded grants to awarded grants to PFLAG as early as 1996, PFLAG as early as 1996, filed court briefsfiled to court briefsthe to support the Employment Non-Dissupport Employment Non-Discrimination crimination Actand in 2001, and filed court briefs to Act in 2001, filed court briefs to support support marriage equality in 2015. The ice-cream marriage equality in 2015. The ice-cream brand renamed Chubby Hubby iceice cream to Hubby brand renamed Chubby Hubby cream to Hubby when marriage equality Hubby whenHubby marriage equality became law in becameinlaw in and Vermont in 2009 created Vermont 2009 created a newand cookie dough a newice cookie dough flavored ice cream called flavored cream called “I Dough, I Dough” when “I Dough, I Dough” when marriage equalmarriage equality became law across the country ity became law across the country in 2015; in 2015; proceeds from those sales were donated to proceeds from those sales were donated to the theHRC. HRC.The Themultinational multinationalbrand brandcreated createdother other commemorative flavors to celebrate marriage commemorative flavors to celebrate marriage equality in the UK, Australia, andand Ireland. equality in the UK, Australia, Ireland.

fronT PaGe

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Levi Strauss & Co. began offering full health benefits same-sex&partnerships in 1992.full The levi for STrauSS Co. began offering health benefits for briefs same-sex denim company filed withpartnerships the Supremein 1992. denim company filed briefs with as Court in The favor of same-sex marriage as early theand Supreme Court in first favorbusinesses of same-sex 2007 was one of the to marendorse as early as 2007 was one the first theriage original Equality Act and in 2015. Theof multinabusinesses to endorse the original Equality tional corporation promotes LGBTQ+ rights in Act in 2015. The multinational corporation countries as LGBTQ+ varied as rights Russiainand India. as promotes countries varied as Russia and India. Skyy, the American vodka brand, has been supporting the LGBTQ+ community sincehas itsbeen inception Skyy, the American vodka brand, the LGBTQ+ community since itsLGin supporting 1992 and its first ads specifically targeting inception in 1992 its first ads has specifically BTQ+ customers ranand in 1995. Skyy been the targeting customers in festivals, 1995. title sponsorLGBTQ+ of the NYC and LA ran Pride Skyy been the title sponsor NYC was onehas of the original backers of of thethe television and LA Pride festivals, was one of the original program “Transparent,” and has funded dozens of backers of the television program “TransparLGBTQ+ nonprofits. Before marriage equality was ent,” and has funded dozens of LGBTQ+ legal, Skyy spent years working with Freedom to nonprofits. Before marriage equality was legal, Marry more recently, has been working Skyyand, spent years working with Freedom to with theMarry National Coalition draw attenand,Black more Justice recently, has beentoworking with the Black National Black Justice Coalition to tion to the Trans community. draw attention to the Black Trans community. Stolichnaya, the Latvian vodka brand, began SToliChnaya, the community Latvian vodka brand, supporting the LGBTQ+ in the early began supporting the LGBTQ+ community 1990s. The company created the “Be Real: Stories in the early 1990s. The company created from America” documentary in 2006 theQueer “Be Real: Stories from Queer series America” to profile the lives of LGBTQ+ people outside big documentary series in 2006 to profile the lives cities. Stoli created the national of LGBTQ+ people outside bigbartending cities. Stolicompetition for LGBTQ+ bartenders, sponsors at least 30 created the national bartending competition for LGBTQ+ bartenders,and sponsors at least community organizations, has been the title 30 community and nationwide has been sponsor for dozensorganizations, of Pride festivals the title sponsor for dozens of Pride festivals and internationally. nationwide and internationally. Budweiser began marketing to and advocating buDWeiSer began marketing to and advoforcating the LGBTQ+ community in 1995. The beer for the LGBTQ+ community in 1995. company began contributing funds to support The beer company began contributing funds HIV/AIDS nonprofits in nonprofits the same year. Budweiser to support HIV/AIDS in the same hasyear. run Budweiser dozens of marketing campaigns for the has run dozens of marketing campaigns for the LGBTQ+ LGBTQ+ community including thecommunity Be Yourself including theartwork Be Yourself campaign with artcampaign with drawn by San Diego’s own drawn by San Diego’s own Joe Phillips. Joework Phillips. Subaru began marketing to and advocating Subaru began marketing to and advocating for for the LGBTQ+ community in 1996. Martina theNavratilova LGBTQ+ community in 1996. Martina became a spokesman for theNavratilova became a spokesman for the brand 25 years brand 25 years ago. The car manufacturer ago. The car manufacturer gainedGay accolades for gained accolades for the subtle messagtheing subtle Gaymarketing. messaging in their marketing. in their

Being surrounded by so many corporations catering to the LGBTQ+ community, it may be easy to forget how many corporations still oppose our community even in 2021. Although corporations can no longer legally discriminate against LGBTQ+ employees, certain corporations still do not lift up their LGBTQ+ employees. Worse, certain companies fund organizations and politicians that are demonstrably harmful to the LGBTQ+ community. The chicken sandwich restaurant, the craft supply store, and the Italian fashion brand are obvious examples, but many other businesses are just as detrimental even if they are less prominent. You may have heard the term “voting with your wallet.” By choosing businesses that align with your values, you encourage the kinds of businesses you want in the world. Conversely, withholding support from businesses that do not support your values may encourage those businesses to change. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) scores companies based on LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices through their Corporate Equality Index (CEI). By choosing to buy from high-scoring businesses instead of low-scoring businesses, you can support companies that provide protections for their LGBTQ+ employees. Examples are abundant:

aMC TheaTerS earns a perfect score but reGal enTerTainMenT only earns a 60. arCo, Chevron, and Shell all earn perfect scores but valero only earns a 60. Cox earns a perfect score but DiSh neTWork only earns a 20. hilTon, MarrioTT, and WynDhaM earn perfect scores but loeWS only earns a 55. Sally beauTy earns a 95 but ulTa only earns a 20. WalGreenS earns a perfect score, CvS earns a 90, but riTe aiD only earns a 50.

There are many examples of corporations surveyed by the CEI that improved from low scores years ago to high scores today. LGBTQ+ political pressure and economic force helped shape some of these businesses in positive ways. Corporate cultures can evolve and some companies that were not initially supportive of the LGBTQ+ community are supportive now. We should support those businesses that have made the changes to do better.

TarGeT gave a large donation to a staunchly anti-Gay candidate for Minnesota governor in 2010. The blowback from the donation was swift. Target eventually changed course, launching the Take Pride campaign in 2012. The company vocally supported marriage equality in 2014 and added gender-inclusive restrooms to their stores in 2016. Target shifted from alienating their LGBTQ+ employees and customers to embracing them. During a radio interview in 2013, the CEO of Italian pasta company barilla asked LGBTQ+ customers not to buy Barilla pasta. Global outrage followed with universities and restaurants refusing to buy the brand and social media influencers publicly shunning the company. The company immediately went to work repairing some of the damage caused by the CEO’s statement. The corporation hired a diversity officer, created an LGBTQ+ resource group, expanded health benefits to Transgender workers, and began donating to organizations to help LGBTQ+ youth. In a single year, the pasta company went from earning a zero score on the HRC’s CEI to earning a perfect score. Barilla now markets to the LGBTQ+ community.

Not that long ago, being LGBTQ+ was a crime. People in our community attended secret meetings or read underground magazines just to find each other. Thankfully most of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States no longer has to live that way today. Pride season reminds us of how the LGBTQ+ community came together to demand what we wanted and what we deserved. Vocal allies including family members, politi-

cians, and even corporations have all shared in that progress. The expansion of LGBTQ+ rights and general acceptance would not have been as swift without corporate support. For the “Bostock” and “Altitude Express” Supreme Court cases decided in 2020, over 200 major corporations advocated that sexual orientation and gender identity should be safe from discrimination. In the 2014 “Obergefell” Supreme Court case, 379 corporations made the case for legalizing same-sex marriage. The corporate endorsements certainly helped undercut any arguments from the opposition that businesses preferred discrimination and opposed equality. Some companies made mistakes when they attempted to initially reach out to the LGBTQ+ community. Not all LGBTQ+ representation has been flattering or positive over the years. No corporation gets everything correct all of the time. Support from the LGBTQ+ community has never been unconditional, nor should it ever be. LGBTQ+ consumers must be vigilant and hold all corporations accountable, even those businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community the loudest. When corporations choose the wrong path, we should make our dissatisfaction known and urge prompt corrective actions. But chastising the corporations for their support can seem unthankful, ungrateful, or unappreciative. The jokes on social media minimize a lot of good that some of these companies have been doing, long before supporting the LGBTQ+ community was as popular or commonplace as it is today. Implying that corporate support of the LGBTQ+ community is something new minimizes decades of advocacy on our behalf. We should support the businesses that support and advocate for us.


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coMMUniTY voiceS / coUrT newS

thE trIalS and trIbulatIonS of MY pozItIVElY happY lIfE

a daY in The life

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.

hola amigos,

As you read this, we are officially in LGBTQ+ Pride Month! Where is 2021 going? I hope that everyone has had a great couple of weeks. A lot has happened; things seem to be becoming more “normal” and bars are opening up with people no longer wearing masks and food orders no longer a requirement to get served adult beverages. Dance floors have opened up and as much as I am excited about that, it makes me nervous knowing that COVID-19 is still out there. Please remember to keep your wits intact when you’re out socializing, dancing and drinking; as humans, our decision-making skills are altered and we tend to become less inhibited when intoxicated, so again, please be cautious and careful. I want to say that I am proud of all the businesses that have opened in the past few months. The new vibe of Rich’s, Gossip Grill, MO’s, Baja Betty’s, #1 on Fifth and Uptown Tavern (to name a few) is amazing and I am glad to see they are still thriving. However, I have found a new local bar that has become my favorite place to go, have a few drinks, reconnect with old friends and make new friends. It is not right on the strip but the extra blocks to walk there is definitely worth it. So, if you are looking for a new place to call home where you can have some fun and find a little of everything, go check out, The Loft on Fifth and Brookes avenues. Be sure to say hello to the ever so charming Rikke (manager/ bartender). I really hope that he is able to bring his “Havana Nights” over to The Loft for a fun Latin night.

image by shutterstock.com

So, I want to share an experience that I had last week that seems to be very common in our community. As a newly single male, I decided to download Grindr and Scruff. It seems I keep getting asked, “What is your status?”, “Are you clean?”, “What do I need to know about you being HIV-positive?”, “Is it safe to have sex with someone like you?” As much as I try to be tough and “play it off,” this series of questions does get to me. I will be honest and say it does hurt when I get asked these harsh questions. I do step back and remind myself that I can do two things, I can lose my mind and react negatively or I can take the opportunity to educate someone that clearly isn’t educated in the subject. I do not expect people to understand it all and know exactly what everything means. However, I feel that we must do something in order to educate more people to

Crispin Torres Jr.

GaY Man GeTS 4 YearS in federal PriSon

criSPiN TorrES and othErS SEntEnCEd In ponzI-lIkE SChEME By Neal Putnam


Gay man who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud is appealing his 4-year federal prison term he received in which his

boss got 15 years in prison. Crispin Torres, Jr., 54, was the chief financial officer of American National Investments, which was created by

understand the real meaning of being HIV-positive and also undetectable. What truly gets me upset is someone asks me, “Are you clean?” My answer would be “absolutely.” I don’t understand how it became that someone that isn’t HIV-negative is considered dirty? It makes me upset that there is still a huge stigma around those living with HIV. I may be HIV-positive, but I am not dirty. This makes me know that we have a lot of educating to do. I ask myself; how can we get more information out into the community? Someone who is HIV-positive can be healthy and “clean.” As I have told you guys before, I am HIV-positive undetectable. Being undetectable makes it so that I cannot transmit HIV to whoever I am sexually with if I am on my medicine. It is safe to have sex with someone who is positive and healthy. The choice to be with someone

co-defendant Gina ChampionCain, 57, for investors of the now closed Patio Group restaurants. One now-vacant Patio restaurant was located in Mission Hills. The U.S. Attorney’s office described the fraud as a Ponzi scheme involving a liquor license lending program for restaurants with the fraud mostly committed by Champion-Cain, according to court documents. Champion-Cain was sentenced March 31, 2021, to 15 years in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns, who also sentenced Torres to four years. Champion-Cain pleaded guilty to securities fraud, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. It was estimated the losses were around $350 million from 491 investors, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The sentence handed down to Torres was a surprise because the U.S. Attorney’s office had asked for six months in jail for him and one year in home detention. Burns opted to sen-


who is POZ is ultimately yours. I am just here to remind you that you don’t have to be scared. Educate yourself, ask questions and talk to your partner about any concerns that you may have. I can tell you from experience that I have taken my ex partners with me to my doctor appointments. Any questions that they may have can be asked there to my doctor. I can tell they leave feeling better about any concerns they went in with. Choose the best decision or route for you and your partner and remember that LOVE comes in many different ways. Do not close your heart, limit your happiness or run away from someone just because you are scared or unsure. Open your heart, listen to it and never quit on someone or something you want. Take the chance and let yourself be loved and love. Acceptance is something that we all have to work on and with one person at a time, we can make this world a better place. These last couple of weeks have been a time of reflection and growth for me personally. Last week I finished watching the “Dance of the 41” and let me tell you that I was in TEARS! It truly hit home knowing that many years ago, hate crimes like those were happening to our brothers and sisters. As a Mexican man, I understood the rejection and the hush-hush mentality of people knowing something and the subject never mentioned or talked about. There isn’t much Mexican LGBT history that I know. I can imagine that it took some serious digging for this story to be told as accurately as possible. Mexico has never been all that great with keeping proper documentation of events and LGBTQ+ history. The end for me was super painful, to see the tears and the emotions on Ignacio’s face when his wife told him that his lover (Eva) was dead pushed me into tears for about the fifth time in the movie. If you haven’t seen it, please do. I watched it on Netflix and make sure that you have a glass of wine and a box of tissues close by. Remember to love one another, bring a smile to someone’s face, give someone a hug that needs it, but most importantly, love yourself.

hasta pronto, Michael

tence both Torres and Champion-Cain to higher terms than sought by prosecutors. Torres, of National City, had been free on $20,000 bond, but Burns denied his request to remain free on appeal of the sentence to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. He had no prior record. Torres surrendered May 3 and is now an inmate at a medium security prison in Colorado. His scheduled release date is Sept. 26, 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website. Torres helped form a nonprofit group called Guys Like Us, which later raised money to benefit San Diego AIDS Walk and Mama’s Kitchen, according to many favorable letters about him to the judge. He also volunteered at the LGBTQ Center. Torres sometimes uses a cane because he developed Parkinson’s illness in 2016. He also had tuberculosis in 2015, which was cited by both his attorney and the U.S. Attorney as reasons for a lesser sentence.

“He is small in stature and openly Gay,” wrote his attorney Jami Ferrara. “He will likely be targeted by inmates with bad intentions.” Ferrara noted the probation office also recommended against a prison term, citing a variety of factors. Ferrara said Torres did not understand what Champion-Cain was doing. The U.S. Attorney’s office wrote it was Champion-Cain who planned and organized the fraud and Torres was limited to asking Champion-Cain to transfer investor funds to cover business expenses. Torres did not benefit directly from any of the fraud, unlike Champion-Cain, who was described by the U.S. Attorney’s office as someone who “siphoned off investors’ money for her own luxurious lifestyle.” Champion-Cain asked to surrender at a later date, as her attorneys said she had not been able to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination while free on $100,000 bond, but she was remanded to jail.



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Pride by the Beach continued from Page 1 The Equity Torch Relay will be featured in the 14th Annual Pride by the Beach virtual celebration on Saturday, June 12, 2021 beginning at 2pm. Hosted by Amber St. James, Pride by the Beach is a family friendly event that offers everyone the opportunity to learn about, celebrate, and support the LGBTQ+ community in North San Diego County. For more information about Pride by the Beach, contact Pride Director Lisa Nava at lisa@pridebythebeach.org or visit PrideByTheBeach.org The Resource Center serves 13+ cities in North San Diego County including Camp Pendleton, Escondido, Vista, San Marcos, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, and more. Throughout the year The Center offers a number of life-saving services such as mental health, support groups for youth and seniors and HIV prevention. It also offers programs for human trafficking prevention, addressing youth homelessness, suicide prevention and education like the LGBTQI competency training to schools, police departments and hospitals. For more information about North County LGBTQ Resource Center, contact Executive Director Max Disposti (760) 994-1690 or go to NCResourceCenter.org


Amber St. James (courtesy image)



with purchase of an entrée/pizza for rst time patrons. USE CODE: TAVOLAFAM

INDOOR/OUTDOOR DINING, & TO-GO! locally owned and operated 1040 University Ave B101 San Diego, CA 92103

619.310.5256 tavolanostrapizzeria.com

San dIEgo prIdE

SPiriT of STonewall awardeeS


very year, San Diego Pride accepts nominations from the community for the annual presentations of the Spirit of Stonewall Awards. The awards recognize individuals who contribute significantly to the LGBTQ community through their leadership, activism, and fundraising efforts. In addition to posting the bios and photos of our awardees on our website and announcing them at the rally, we will be hosting live interactive Q&A sessions with each of our awardees after Pride weekend. We want each of you to get to know these activists and organizations on a deeper level. We hope you watch and engage so you can learn, connect, support, donate, and find other meaningful ways to take part in the LGBTQ social justice movement. San Diego’s first rally was held in 1975. The Spirit of Stonewall Rally is a time to recognize and honor leaders who are working hard to preserve our gains and meet the many challenges still facing our community. It is a time for us to honor our origins, celebrate those who are leading the way, and call our community to action around some of our movement’s most pressing issues. San DieGo PriDe iS honoreD To reCoGnize The FolloWinG inDiviDualS anD orGanizaTionS aS our 2021 aWarDeeS: Champion of Pride – Dwayne Crenshaw Community Grand Marshal – Moe Girton Stonewall Service Award – San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition Inspirational Relationship – Jamie Arangure & Frannya Tuchman Larry T. Baza Arts & Culture Award – Matt Morrow Stonewall Philanthropy Award – The Burgess Family Community Service – Ana Laura Light of Pride – Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition Friend of Pride – County of San Diego Board of Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher Even in the face of a global pandemic, we will bring the Spirit of Stonewall Rally to our community. When: Friday, July 16, 2021, 6 PM – 7 PM Where: hillcrest Pride Flag, 1500 university ave, San Diego, Ca 92103


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coMMUniTY voiceS


Big mike and Friends continued from Page 8 There is no one-size-fits-all solution; every individual must have wrap-around services to ensure they matriculate into permanent housing. if you could give someone advice about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them? If I could give advice to someone about working at the city, it would be to keep an open mind and always listen. I am constantly learning! My job at the city is to use policy to solve problems. I work with and listen to community members, community leaders, business owners, those in the nonprofit world and experts to identify and remedy problems within our community. Keeping an open mind and listening to all ranges of opinions ensures we do not stay stagnant in our thinking. When the community engages and participates, it gives us an insight as to what we can do to help improve the services of the city and how we can effectuate proper change with the policies we write. The public should always know that we here in the mayor’s office are always accessible! Please reach out for a meeting, or leave a comment during public comment; if you are not available, we can always be reached via email or phone — we can even correspond via snail mail. We want to hear from you.

Javier Gomez (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? Loving yourself is extremely important and it is something I am and have had to be intentional about. There are many ways I practice self-love, this includes: alone time — a wise friend once told

me doing nothing or having alone time are plans you have made with yourself. Honor that and go through with it. Spending time with my family and friends — this is a great way to recharge for me personally as time with loved ones for me is always filled with laughter and lots of love. Self-care is another way I ensure to make time for myself whether it is my monthly massage, manicure and pedicure, going to the gym or getting a facial, I am intentional and schedule them monthly as it allows me time to decompress. Finally checking in on my mental health, this is something most people I find don’t talk about, but it is extremely important to living your best life — speaking to a therapist has changed my life and has given me the tools I need to really love myself. Gratitude is so important in each of our lives — what are you most grateful for, and how do you pay it forward? I am most grateful for my community! Being able to stand on the shoulders of courageous leaders within the LGBT community has allowed me to become my true authentic self and live my life. So many members of our community had to deal with harassment, violence and constant degradation not only in their everyday lives but within the confines of the law, and in the media. We still have so much work to do, but we must also acknowledge that we have made significant progress. I have been lucky enough to have my chosen family to always defend and support me through any situation and I am eternally grateful for that. Instagram/Twitter: @Javvvvs



Rev, Dan Koeshall (courtesy images)

MeTroPoliTan coMMUniTY chUrch reoPenS

“You look So abSolutElY wondErful! wElCoME hoME!” By Neal Putnam


The 51st anniversary of the founding of the San Diego Metropolitan Community Church will be celebrated Sunday, June 6, which is the third Sunday since worshippers have returned in person. A video greeting from MCC’s founder, Rev. Troy Perry, will be played at the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services, along with a brief reminiscence from Al Smithson, who is the local vice moderator of the board of directors for the last 50 years. Reservations are required since the church is following the 50% capacity guideline due to the coronavirus outbreak. That means there is room for 62 people plus 15 service workers, said Lee Bowman, minister of communications. People can register to reserve a seat at www. themetchurch.org with a link that will connect them directly to the Eventbrite website to register. MCC is located at 2633 Denver St. Pastor Caedmon Grace told worshippers May 30 if all the reservations are taken, call MCC at 619-5212222 to ask to be placed on a waiting list. Safety protocols include

wearing a face mask at all times, while maintaining 6 feet social distancing except for people who reside together, said Bowman. “I’m so glad we got people in the sanctuary! Hallelujah!” said senior pastor Dan Koeshall on May 23. “You look so absolutely wonderful!” “Welcome home!” said Koeshall. “The church is more than a building. The church is us!” Online services will continue at the Facebook and YouTube website pages of MCC, as the congregation worshipped online, starting in March 2020. “Our first Sunday back in person was a joyous reunion — from 6 feet apart — of family and friends and was filled with excitement,” said Smithson. “You could feel the energy and jubilation of being back together and seeing one another after more than a year.” “We have learned a building doesn’t define us,” said Rev. Michelle Kirby, who is a Veteran’s Administration Chaplain. Also back part time is Rev. Alisan Rowland, who left San Diego six years ago to pastor an MCC church in New Orleans.

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artISt profIlE:

drew blair By Patric Stillman

“My life’s journey has been a whole lot of ‘No, thank yous’ but I never gave up. I realized that my art is the only way that I can speak, and be heard. People will take time to interpret the art even if they won’t look at you or talk with you face to face. I create art to help speak for others who can’t talk because I didn’t get that when I needed it.”


Drew Blair (courtesy images)

he artist Drew Blair was born Andrew Blair O’Brien in 1988 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He recalls that he always had a passion to create. At 3 years old, he painted a little wooden chair in primary colors. The same palette that continues to inform his current work. His interest in art coincided with his father’s interest in collecting Indianapolis 500 pace cars. Blair became obsessed with the details of these special automobiles. Every year, the Indy 500 creates a limited edition, custom pace car that has its own unique graphics, interior design and automotive details. At a young age, Blair wanted to be the designer of future pace cars and took great interest in the designers and engineers who created these vehicles. Eventually, he began racing and winning scholarships in the Quarter Midgets of America racing circuit. Unfortunately, as a self-aware Gay teen, Blair quickly learned that the community was not welcoming to Gay people. By 12, he found himself viciously targeted for being too effeminate. He realized that his opportunities would be limited or taken away if others perceived him as Gay. So, he told his parents that he was done racing and finished with feeling uncomfortable being around people in the racing circuit. It was at this time that he focused his interests on further developing his artistic skills. Blair was accepted into Morehead State University’s School of Art and Design. He received a Bachelor of Fine Art with an emphasis on Graphic Design in 2010. While he loved to study the arts and build his artist practice, his degree came with more personal challenges. “The students were homophobic and put their cigarettes out on my art. My art was set on fire, ripped and disappeared because people thought they weren’t acceptable to be seen in public. When I reported it to the head of the art department, he offered a simple ‘I’m sorry’ but nothing changed.

“There were a lot of private moments when I cried. I had been beaten for being Gay multiple times. I thought I was I going to die. I honestly didn’t expect that I would live this long.” By 2015, he moved to San Diego where he met artist and designer August Stein. For the past three years, they have shared a loving relationship that has offered Blair a creative space to study, create and build his own body of work. In 2019, Blair showcased his “Sex Ed: Series One” acrylic paintings during Pride 2019 at The Studio Door, followed by a solo show that included his “Series One Dildos” at Alexander Salazar Fine Art gallery. These candycolored sex toys may amaze and delight adults but the underlying message is actually for another audience. “The pieces are there to start the sexed talk, literally. I want adults to show my work to their nieces and nephews. I want kids to see my work. Even if they are uncomfortable discussions,” said the artist. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get a sex-ed talk from my parents. I believe all children deserve that. ‘Cause they need to understand the difference between safe touch and bad touch. There are things that parents have an obligation to teach their children. My art is here to tell people that you need to talk to kids. That’s it.” Blair’s partner, Stein has a long history in art and design. He began working at 19 and has had a career of accomplishments himself. In 1979, Stein created a series of black light posters that he shared with Blair. Blair had such a strong connection to the happy energy, he immediately knew that he wanted to create complimentary works within his own creations. “Originally, black light art was incredible. It celebrated the energy of happiness and euphoric sexuality. It was a thrilling moment, however brief, before it turned into cheap commercial marijuana posters sold in malls.” The art form went out of fashion in the ’70s, so Blair didn’t know it existed. He never previously painted with it but it has now become a central component of his art. In 2020, he created a mixed media, technologically activated black light work called “The Phoenix,” which has become the emotional heart of his studio. This work provided the inspiration for his upcoming interactive exhibition in Palm Springs, “Drew’s PLAYhouse” black light exhibition. It will be an interacting series of works that illuminate a black light space. As each moment influences the next, Blair plans for the exhibition to lead to the next exhibition of personal experiences and filmed activities that take place during this exhibition. Details will be available on Blair’s social media platforms as they become available. Blair sees his work as a celebration

of the struggles that he lived through. Through his art, Blair is bringing out the things that he didn’t get to say to help others. He is hopeful to capture impactful moments that outlast him. “I want to tell young LBGT kids in places like Kentucky that they must be patient. It’s really hard to live with the hatred and the lies, but there is another place in the world to live. Come to the city centers. Come to California. Come to New York City. Education happens here. This is where you’ll find social evolution.

Intelligent conversation and discussion without hate exists. We take the hate out and listen.” Drew Blair can be found online at equalsexed.com and on Instagram at @DrewBlairUnlimited Patric Stillman is a fine artist and gallery owner of The Studio Door. If you are an artist in San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community and would like to be featured in an artist profile, please contact Patric for consideration at patric@thestudiodoor.com.

evenTS / PUzzle


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June events


Q Puzzle

SomEWHErE uNDEr THE rAiNBoW AcroSS 1 Movie icon Jane 8 rosie’s “Sleepless in ___ “ 15 toronto’s province 16 Cut 17 Start of a line from a randy rainbow takeoff 19 Catwoman portrayer Eartha 20 lucci in “all My Children” 21 art deco design name 22 get the cappuccino foamy 24 having no play 27 “get out!” to orton, with “off” 28 Condenses, as a book 32 More of the line 36 End of the line 40 Melville tale 41 Where to find hot buns 43 part of a “tommy” title 44 r&b singer lou 46 a. lincoln, e.g. 48 Some actors have big ones 49 Call placer 51 Is in the hole 53 Summer for rimbaud 54 Crazy like a fox 55 Vardalos of “Connie & Carla” 57 Salt licks 59 Singer of the original song 62 Vows now legal for all 64 “hollywood Squares” choice 65 Skin designs, for short 68 Sam twitched it on “bewitched” 69 kevin bacon movie of the ‘80s 70 Crude material 71 Cry out for 72 drag spikes 73 “dallas” actor keenan

Solutions on page 19 QSyndicate.com

DoWN 1 Stones 2 In the dark 3 tennessee, but not williams 4 Vixen’s master 5 work unit 6 Enjoy with the tongue 7 Marlene’s role in “blue angel” 8 Singer o’Connor 9 Elton John’s lang. 10 unC is in it 11 q to a Scrabble player 12 old russian despots 13 Slow, to Saint-Saens 14 tidied the lawn 18 Captain Jack Sparrow, e.g. 23 hoolihan’s M*a*S*h rank 25 “I’m not touching that!” 26 Some like them hot 29 harper lee’s radley 30 Say whether you’re coming 31 popeye’s ___’ pea 32 what hamlet was reading 33 online letters 34 “When pigs fly!” 35 turnpike fee 37 like the rep of 59-across 38 act badly 39 hoped for answers to come-ons 42 Movie preceder, once 45 tickle pink 47 packaging devices 50 Saudi arabian capital 52 patty hearst’s former org. 56 texas a&M athlete 58 trailing behind 60 treated as a sexual object 61 Composer thomas 62 p-town’s Crowne pointe, e.g. 63 deer in Maria’s song 66 Caesar’s X 67 taxpayer’s Id



JUne 2021 volUme 2 issUe 14

SUbarU of el caJon goES hollYwood

wiTh a loT of hearT By randall Blaum customer Love manager, Subaru of El cajon


t Subaru of El Cajon, we have a mission we call “The Subaru Love Promise.” What that means is that we acknowledge that a diverse team with varying ideas can create some of the best outcomes because a team that has inclusion at its heart usually makes things happen, rather than waits for something to happen. That is how “Sharing the Love: The Musical” came to be. It all began on a couch… Not long ago, my husband and I were sitting on the couch talking about theater (he’s in the business) and he said, “Why don’t you make a musical during the pandemic?” He was joking, of course, but I woke up the next morning and thought to myself, “Why not?” How I was going to do this was a bit beyond me at that moment, but I took an action the next day by making a call to Matt Morrow at the Diversionary Theatre to see how I could get this project done.

reached out to his team and within days, we had a screenwriter, music director, and some cast. It was becoming real, real quick.

Randall Blaum

Since “Sharing the Love” comes out in July, you can assume we got the job done and, boy, was it a job. We had to do everything long distance, over Zoom, and with a lot of hope and prayers. We had only a $20,000 budget, four days to film, with one more day for reshoots, seven locations, a cast and crew of 30, musicians that all live in New York and a good portion of the movie had to be shot in a moving car….

Stephen Brotebeck

Matt referred me to our director, Stephen Brotebeck (MFA Assistant Professor at SDSU) and somehow, I sold him on the idea that a car retailer, and me, had what it takes to make a mini Hollywood-style musical. I do have film directing and producing experience but getting an entire team together on not much of a budget during a pandemic was daunting. Now all we needed was the screenwriter, music director, singers, cast, crew, locations, a distribution partner, and that was before 10 a.m. Stephen

times in July. Additionally, they are producing a 15-minute behind-the-scenes package that will air immediately after “Sharing the Love” during July. As I write this, I find myself in a dream-state because we actually did it. We made a movie musical, just like the old Mickey Rooney days of “My daddy has a barn, let’s make a movie” and during the pandemic.

Sharing the Love, the Musical cast

I tell you this because the “Sharing the Love” team did a job that very few people could do and we came up with a production that, admittedly, has some flaws, but is so far past any expectations, we think it can hold its own. I have to point out that Cox Cable loves the idea so much, they became our media partners and will air “Sharing the Love” several

Against all odds, the movie gods smiled on us and in just a few weeks, “Sharing the Love” will be on Cox Cable for all to see. The process was, as any creator of good content can tell you, much harder than it looks. Our dance team worked dozens of hours, our actors spent weeks learning lines, the music, and the dancing, and for our three main cast [members], Sheldon Gomabon, Melissa Glasgow, and Julio CatanoYee, they had to do all that and sing in a moving car… It’s not as easy as they made it look. Several people have asked me, “Why would you do this?” and that is a fair question. Part of it is who I am — I want to help and see others live the life they want and have fun doing it. More than that, though — it’s just been a helluva year and so many people in the arts literally couldn’t do what they love. Subaru’s Love Promise is deeply rooted, but for me it comes down to this: How can we help the most people for the longest period of time so they can live the best life possible. “Sharing the Love: The Musical” was one way to put people back to work doing what they love and to have some fun, too. It’s about time, right?




JUne 2021 volUme 2 issUe 14

who attends because it is nothing short of beautiful!

eriK benSon nEw CrEatIVE dIrECtor for WALk iN A.r.T. AND ciTyFEST By cesar A. reyes

Erik Benson (courtesy image)

Congratulations on the new position. Can you tell us how you got here? As a small child, I used art as an outlet, possibly even an escape. I found it to be cathartic and calmed my brain down given it ran a mile a minute. In my formative teenage years, I dove head first into the arts and acquired many accolades, one being a half-paid tuition scholarship to Rowan University in South Jersey. From there I studied fine art with the full intention of becoming an art teacher, but with constant budget cuts to certain programs during that time period, I pivoted into event planning. This was an interesting situation given my first exposure to event planning (which I always desired to do) was for my fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. I did a philanthropic LGBTQIA+/Self-Acceptance event that raised money for the “Born This Way Foundation.” The event went beyond my expectations allowing me to receive an internship here in San Diego doing corporate event planning for a prestigious biotech company. I never looked back nor did I return to New Jersey for school. I continued to work different facets of the events industry and learn everything I possibly could. I have been known to be quite a dreamer so I took every opportunity I could. Failure was inevitable and yes, I was fired many times! How I see it, there is such a thing as failing upwards. Doing so I found out what I wanted to do through trial and error. I wanted to merge my love of art and events to create community-driven art nights. That culminated into pop-up art shows that happened locally with the help of some amazing people! Unfortunately, for some time I had to relocate to North County as I had fallen on hard times. Refusing to give up, I found my way into a wedding venue where I became a lead planner and performed more than 100 weddings. Once I felt that I had learned all that I needed, I threw some of my belongings into trash bags and came back with barely a plan. It was touch and go for a little but passion persevered when I became

Walk in A.R.T. (courtesy image)

CityFest (courtesy image)

an event coordinator at the legendary Hotel Del Coronado. After a promotion at The Del, I became an event specialist running some of the most exciting events one could ever imagine! As all good things do, it came to an end and I decided to become a self-employed artist running local events once again. With some luck, the Hillcrest Business Association took a shot on me and allowed me to contribute to such events like Cityfest, Nightmare on Normal, and Mardi Gras. I felt a bit of defeat once the pandemic came around and pretty much nabbed everything I had worked so hard for but I remained hopeful. As California slowly opened, I made sure that it was known that I was more than willing to participate in any way possible! I guess that pays off because here I am completely giddy at the fact that this is real life and somehow the dream became reality! What are you responsible for as the creative director? As the new creative director of Walk In A.R.T., I will collaborate with Patric Stillman of The Studio Door to provide a once-a-month event that showcases extremely talented artists and performers! We hope to provide an experience that not only promotes community but allows you to form a relationship with the local crafters. This position will allow me

to proudly take on many roles as I will be managing the booking of vendors, entertainment, PR/marketing, sponsorships, and much more! In a nutshell, my job is to promote and encourage community togetherness under the umbrella that is artistry. I plan to grow with the event and offer diversified experiences every single month. My biggest goal is to play as liaison between the community and artists to produce an event worthy of your excitement! The same essentially goes for the “Arts” section of Cityfest. Can you tell our readers about the Walk in a.r.T. event? Walk in A.R.T. is EXACTLY what this town has been needing! Picture the farmers market but with even more crafts, paintings, performances, and libations! Under the ambiance of warm market lights and between colorfully designed walls, you will find yourself feeling a sense of camaraderie. Starting at 5 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month, the local vendors are set and ready to showcase their work as you walk through with your family and friends! Handcrafted necklaces, hats, paintings, and beyond as you smile, passing by your neighbor from down the street. As you make your rounds, you can enter The Studio Door where they are premiering their newest exhibition. Inside is a bunch of smiling faces of artists who you can socialize with and learn what inspired their work. As you decide to take another lap around the event, you find yourself mesmerized by the live artists finishing their art pieces they started only a couple hours ago. As the sun begins to set, you can take a seat and snack on some food from one of the multiple food vendors as you watch a local performer dazzle you with their amazing voice. You look around and recognize that everyone is enjoying themselves and there truly isn’t a care in the world. In that moment, you realize this is how it feels to be a part of something bigger. That is how I personally felt my first couple times working this event and I hope to provide that experience to everyone

What is new for Cityfest? Notably, Cityfest will be on Aug. 8 this year and the festival will be the first big event coming out of the quarantine for this town! We are expecting more foot traffic since it’s been a while that we could gather like this. As far as the “Arts”specific section of the festival goes, it has been amplified tenfold. We typically offer the opportunity for local artists/ crafters to showcase their work with no cost to them, which is a blessing. This year, we offered the same opportunity, doubled the number of artists BUT with a twist to engage the attendees a bit more. Each vendor in that specific section will be providing some type of live or interactive feature to their booth! Be it an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity or live music, there is going to be something to make your head turn every couple of feet! The creativity behind the submissions I have received have been nothing short of amazing and I am STILL only halfway through the selection process! Other submissions include fashion shows, Drag performances, flash mobs and even a circus workshop (“Oh my!”). Also, you can expect more large-scale art installations to just add that extra wow factor as you walk through. We know that it has been a hard year for

everyone and we all want to get back to normalcy, but I can promise you that we have been hard at work to make sure this year is better than normal...we aim for the best yet! With pandemic restrictions being lifted, what is important to know as an attendee of any of these events? I highly suggest that if you haven’t gotten it already, just go and get the vaccine. There is plenty of time given Cityfest is in August. We all hope to move forward properly and be able to experience this event in all its glory! This will be one of the first major events for this town that we are allowed to do and we want to do it in a safe environment. We still advise if you are showing any signs or symptoms, please be responsible and make the proper decisions for the safety of others. how can people get involved, reach out, and give feedback? If you are interested in learning more about the Walk In A.R.T. event, please check out : www.firstthursdayartnight.com There you can apply to be a vendor, or for upcoming talent. For participation/volunteering in Cityfest 2021, please feel free to send me an email at: erikbensonarts@gmail.com I am always open to suggestions and community input.

PUzzle SolUTion




JUne 2021 volUme 2 issUe 14


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LGBTQ San Diego County News June 4, Issue 2 Volume 14  

We kick off Pride season with a chat about Corporate support. We get the 411 on North Counties Pride by the Beach virtual experience. With o...

LGBTQ San Diego County News June 4, Issue 2 Volume 14  

We kick off Pride season with a chat about Corporate support. We get the 411 on North Counties Pride by the Beach virtual experience. With o...

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