LGBTQ San Diego County News March 2023, Issue 4 Volume 11

Page 1

Day P5


ho News National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness

Why Ukraine’s Fight is Our Fight Too P4

Con V ersaT ions WiT h niCoLe Drag Queens & LGBTQ+ History P7Big Mike & Friends Featuring Ariel Fantasia P8

T rans TaLk WiTh C onnor Trans Day of Visibility, and More! P11

Li F e Beyond Therapy Twink Death P9

pUblIC servICe

A Note from Toni: March is Women’s History Month P6

City Attorney News: Improving your Access to Public Records P18

Assemblyman Ward News: Important Bills being Introduced P18


Powerful The XIXth steps up to the podium at The Old Globe P14

On Stage P15

Artist Profile: Featuring Danny Warhole P16

MCC Vandal Remains in Jail P13

San Diego Man

Sentenced to Life P19

Willie Gray Gets 11 years for Manslaughter of Homeless Man P19

UC saN DIeg O’s geNDer


he first annual Transgender Day of Empowerment took place in 2004 at the San Diego LGBTQ Center and 19 years later planning has begun for 2023’s celebration. A Day where the Transgender community and their allies pause to celebrate and reflect on how far the Trans community has come. We had the honor to be invited to the organizing committee meeting on a Thursday evening at the San Diego Pride Office.




rEaD oN PaGE 2


By c esar a r eyes

San Diego Gender Health Program is blazing trails and providing much needed help to the community. We sat down with Gender Health Program Coordinator Rai Khamisa, LCSW (They/Them/Theirs) for a very informative Q & A.

Please tell us about UCSD’s Gender Health Program. How is the organization connected to the medical system and the university in general? Does the organization work with the LGBT Resource Center offered to university students or are they completely separate?

UC San Diego’s Gender Health Program specifically serves the hospital system to ensure that patients who are seeking gender affirming care have a centralized model with which to work. Gender affirming care can be overwhelming to access, between finding the right providers, navigating insurance and determining pre-/post-operative requirements. Our program helps patients navigate these areas with more ease and direction so that patients can focus on what they need, NOT on how they are going to meet those medical needs. Although we are not directly connected with the LGBT Resource Center on campus, we partner closely with them and our counterparts on the university campus to ensure continuity of care for those who may move their care over to the health system side or when they need services that only the health system provides.

A Q&A WITH ProgrAm CoordInATor rAI KHAmIsA rEaD oN


1 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11 LGBTQSD.NEW S March 3, 2023 vo Lu ME 4 i SS uE 11 La Jolla Institute Institutional Review Board Protocol # VD-259-0822 A3 Approved for use until: 08/23/2023 Eligibility you are healthy, 18+ years old you have been infected with monkeypox and/or received the monkeypox vaccine Participation brief health questionnaire up to 5 study visits with blood draws compensation up to $500 for time and effort VOLUNTEERS NEEDED MONKEYPOX STUDY Have you been vaccinated and/or recovered from monkeypox? (858)-255-0680 to contribute to scientific research
QUeer paren T ing What Can Children Learn P12 UsT on , W e ha Ve a proBL eM Loving Him Was Red P10
THe 19TH aNNUal TraNsgeNDer DaY Of eMpOwerMeNT our LIfe, our fuTure
By c esar a r eyes
C OUrT News

Transgender Day of Empowerment continued from Page 1

He is a former member of the San Diego Pride Board of Directors, and an active volunteer of Pride for the past 19 years. He was the first Transgender member of the American Cancer Society California LGBT Diversity team, Past Co-Chair of TASC San Diego and he also served on the Transgender Leadership Summit planning committee, the LGBTQ Reducing Disparities Project - TG Advisory Group, and served on the EPN Steering Committee, appointed to the City of San Diego Mayor’s LGBT Community Advisory Board, San Diego Police Department Chief’s Advisory board as well as the San Diego VA LGBTQ

workgroup. Connor also works with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. In 2015 Connor began working with the San Diego Police Department doing the very first trainings on Transgender issues for the police officers in every Division in San Diego.

Connor has received the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Award at the Nicky’s. He was the first recipient of the Susan Davis Equality Award, San Diego Pride Champion of Pride Award and the Equality California Community Service award among many others. He is also the parent of 3 daughters and grandparent to 10 beautiful grandkids.

This is where the committee hashed out issues such as which keynote speakers and entertainment to choose for the evening and where they would make other important decisions like having cake or peach cobbler (a very important decision in our book). We were delighted to hear the members not only organize the event, but also organize two fundraisers that will be held in March leading up to the big celebration.

Transgender Day of Empowerment will take place Friday April 7 at 6 PM at the Center. This year’s theme is “Our Life, Our Future”. A theme that speaks to the committee’s desire to uplift the Trans youth and honor the Trans elders in the community.

One way the day uplifts the youth is by presenting this year’s Tracie Jada O’Brien Transgender Student Scholarship Fund recipients. The scholarship helps Transgender and/or Non-Binary San Diego County students starting or continuing education at a 2-year or 4-year collage, technical school, graduate program or vocational training program.

This year’s keynote speaker honor will be bestowed to San Diego elder Connor Maddocks, and that’s great to see a Trans Male elder be giving the opportunity to enlighten us all (more on him on the side bar profile). Other speakers are set to be announced along with special entertainment. Part of the festivities include the presentation of awards, and you can help to nominate folks that you think should be honored in the Transgender and Non-Binary community. Applications due March 31st at

Nominations are live now until March 16 and the categories are: Community Service Award: A Trans and/or Gender Nonbinary (GNB) person that has made a significant contribution to the well being of the San Diego Trans/GNB community.

Satin Styles Youth Award: an award for a Trans/GNB teen, up to 24 that had made significant contribution to the Trans community or did something noteworthy.

Building Bridges Award: a person or organization that has exhibited extraordinary support for the Trans community. Nominations can be made at

Apart from Celebrating the accomplishments and individuals the event is a great opportunity to get connected with organizations and resources. One of these organizations is the UC San Diego Gender Health Program and we had

the pleasure of talking with Rai Khamisa, the program’s coordinator (you can read that Q&A on page 3).

With the help of community organizations like the Center, San Diego Pride and Stepping Stones, to name a few, the day is gearing up to be a grand celebration. You can do your part by donating and attending any of the fundraisers set for this month at Redwing and The Dojo Cafe (Day and Time to be announce so be in the look out).

CONNOr MaDDOCks In HIs oWn Words

Iwas born in Natick, Massachusetts way back in 1953. I am the third of four children, to an Irish Catholic Family. I knew around 3 years old that I was not a girl, I knew as surely as I knew the sun came up every day. I preferred the company of boys and the activities they played. Unfortunately, my mother was not on board with that, and I was often scolded to behave like a girl. We moved to Tarzana, CA when I was 6. As I grew up, my knowledge of who I really was never left me, but those around me had different ideas. I did nothing right and the constant

harassment from parents and teachers to conform left me with a sense of self-hatred, feeling unlovable, and the belief that I was inferior, inadequate, and defective. At age 20 I married, it was about trying to feel normal, trying to fix myself and become the female person everyone expected me to be. It was, from the start, a rocky marriage. Problems with alcohol and a husband so self-involved there was no room for me. My three daughters arrived in the 80’s and I stayed home and raised them for 12 years until I finally went back out into the world.

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Keynote Speaker connor Maddocks continued from Page 1 (image courtesy of San Diego Pride) Connor Maddocks (courtesy image)

I stayed married for 25 years, which proved to be extremely difficult years of abuse. This is what happens to people who are marginalized in their early years.

I came out as a Lesbian in 1997, when the divorce was final. I had always loved women, just wasn’t one of them. I got sober and joined Gay AA to meet others like me. But they were not like me, still I did not belong.

In 1999 I met someone online who asked if he could talk to me about being a Lesbian. He told me he didn’t think I was one, but he knew what was really going on. He was a Trans man, he told me his story and that was my story!! Finally I had a name for who I was and I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

It took until 2003 for me to be ready to medically transition. I was over the moon! At the same time I had to move to San Diego to take care of my parents. I met a group of Trans men who were meeting monthly. I joined them and was given all the love and support I had never known before.

I started my activism then. I wanted no one to go through this alone, as I had. I started working with a person at the LGBT Center to develop Trans events. In 2006 I began working at the Center as Facilities Manager. As they had no Trans services or even a basic understanding of what Trans was, I became the de facto person to call when the word Trans was mentioned. They allowed me to help community members alongside my regular duties.

I started speaking at colleges and doing trainings for different organizations throughout San Diego. Including San Diego Police and San Diego County Sheriffs, it was work that I loved doing and still do.

In 2013 I created Project Trans at the Center. The very first Transgender Program there. I was able to do my community work full time and I knew I was so blessed to have this opportunity.

Over the years I helped create Transgender Community Coalition, I created most of the Transgender groups that still meet today and I still run my TransMasculine group that I joined in 2003. I was a Board Member at San Diego Pride, and I am still actively volunteering with Pride today making it 19 years now.

The best part of my life now is finding time to spend with my beautiful daughters and my 10 grandchildren. They all live in Rhode Island, but I make sure I go visit at least once a year.

People say I’ve accomplished a lot and have given me numerous awards, which truly humbles me. The award I am most proud of is being inducted to the LGBT Centers Wall of Honor in 2019. But what I see is that I was the lucky one who was able to reach out to so many people in San Diego and be blessed by their kindness and all the things they have taught me over the years. I have always felt a need to help others, but what I have received back is 10 fold more than I gave.

uc San Diego’s Gender health Program continued from Page 1

What kind of services are provided by UCSD’s Gender Health Program? Are all services provided from a single location or are multiple sites used to cover more of the county?

We are proud to say that we are the only system in San Diego that provides a full range of gender affirming options for our adult patients. Patients often start with an intake in our program, where we discuss patient goals and needs. We can provide referrals to our specialty departments at that time and, in many cases, can provide letters of readiness for our patients. Our comprehensive approach to care includes but is not limited to primary care, hormone replacement therapy, body contouring, top surgery, bottom surgery, hair removal, psychiatry, vocal coaching, fertility, and reproductive health. Our website has a more comprehensive list of services and our providers who are part of the team.

What is the history of the program and when did it begin offering services? What initially led to the decision to create the program?

While UC San Diego has been providing gender affirming care since 2018 and more formally in 2020 with the expansion of primary care services at the Owen Clinic, our centralized model launched late 2022 with the centralized model. This new iteration of gender health services at UCSD was envisioned in 2018, when some of our medical providers, including doctors Jill Blumenthal, Amanda Gosman and several others, began advocating for a better system to improve the Trans community’s navigation of the resources already offered and new services to allow for better service integration. It was a new mission for the Health System and thus took time to demonstrate to leadership that it was a critical and invaluable service needed in San Diego County and other surrounding areas.

Our understanding is that UCSD is a pioneer in providing gender affirming care and has received considerable recognition. Please brag a bit on some of the program’s accolades.

UCSD Health has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation since 2018 (and again in 2022) as a leader in LGTBQ+ health care equity, achieving a perfect score on the equitable treatment and inclusion of LGTBQ+ patients, visitors, and our employees. Dr. Anne Wallace was the first breast surgeon to perform affirming top surgeries starting in 2016 and Dr. Amanda Gosman the first plastic surgeon to perform facial feminization surgeries in 2018 at UC San Diego Health. Beginning in 2021, Dr. Jennifer Anger was the first urologist in Southern California to perform gender affirming bottom surgeries including vaginoplasties, vulvoplasties and metaoidioplasties. Drs. Jill Blumenthal and Laramie Smith received Valued Ally Awards from the San Diego LGBT Center in 2021 for their ongoing community outreach and engagement with the Transgender and Non-Binary population. In addition, UCSD has a large portfolio of research studies that not only include Transgender individuals as part of their study populations but are also specifically focused on supporting and improving health outcomes for Transgender individuals. UCSD has hosted an annual Transgender Health Symposium since 2019 to educate staff and providers about comprehensive gender-affirming care, with 150 individuals attending for the last three years. In 2020, we started Gender Health Rounds, a monthly CME-accredited series that engages health care providers involved in gender-affirming care for TGNB individuals. The overarching program goal is to provide needs-based education for physicians and health care providers engaged in Transgender health care to improve knowledge, competence and performance and enable the optimum provision of health care to Transgender and Non-Binary individuals. By presenting data on evidence-based practices and

discussing challenging clinical cases, we hope to improve learner skills and critical thinking to enhance gender-affirming care. Who are your typical patients today? How should interested folks or prospective patients reach out to the program?

Our patients are incredible and consist of anyone 18 years of age and older with a variety of health insurance plans including Medi-Cal and Medi-Care looking for gender affirming services in San Diego. Patients can connect with us through our website at, and can email us at

Our understanding is that a lot of folks who could be receiving gender care are unfortunately being missed. Please tell me about any outreach programs to help reach those underserved folks.

We currently rely heavily on partnerships with the community to communicate about our resources and assess community priorities so we can grow our program in a way that is reflective of those needs. I, along with our Medical Director Dr. Jill Blumenthal, have made it a priority to stay connected with these agencies and programs in Southern California who are doing this work to not only share what we are doing as a program but to also support their community-based efforts. Reaching those who continue to be missed by traditional health systems is one of long-term goals of the Gender Health Program.

We know a lot of gender affirming care can be quite expensive: how do patients pay for the services? Is care only available to the wealthy or those with gold-plated health insurance? Our mission is to provide affirming, inclusive, and comprehensive care to Transgender and gender diverse communities. We aim to prioritize accessibility, advocacy and accountability to improve the overall well-being of all our patients. UCSD accepts most insurance plans, including Medi-Cal/Medi-Care. We encourage patients to call their insurance to verify their coverage specifically for gender health services and their ability to be seen at UCSD. Insurance is so complicated, and every plan is different, so asking is the best way to get that information to ensure patients can get the coverage they need! We will also help patients in obtaining that information if they require additional assistance. We have an insurance authorization team we work closely to ensure we are doing everything we can to advocate for our patients with insurance, which is a huge asset to being a part of our program.

Please tell us about your current role within the program and how your career path led you to the program.

I’m Rai Khamisa (they/them), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) by training

and a Queer and Trans-identified person who is very proud to serve my own community in this role. I have been part of the San Diego community for the last 13 years and have worked closely with UCSD, both as an employee and a community partner for around 8 of those years. Like a lot of other social workers, I started out in community mental health in my early years and found out during that time that I really gravitated towards wanting to support our Queer and Trans communities. After working on the campus side of UCSD for some time, I moved into clinical directorship and other leadership roles for a mental health company that services college students near UCSD and continued to see themes of how Trans and Non-Binary communities, specifically communities of color struggle, with access and navigation of both physical and mental healthcare. It was a no-brainer when I saw this amazing opportunity to help create this new iteration of Gender Health services for the hospital system with amazing providers like Dr. Blumenthal who has been fighting for our community to ensure access to care and education within our system, continues to be a priority. My goal is to not only help create an amazing program, but to work toward ensuring that system wide education is provided so that affirming care is not just siloed to the departments associated with the Gender Health Program, but that all services within UC San Diego Health are seen as affirming services. We have a lot of work to do, and the system is committed to seeing this work through.

UCSD has been in San Diego since 1960 and the Hillcrest Medical Center has been operating since 1966. Is there anything else we should know about the program and how it supports and integrates into San Diego’s greater LGBT community?

Of course, one of the primary homes to LGBTQ+ individuals is the Owen Clinic, founded in 1982 and has grown to become the largest, most comprehensive HIV primary care center in San Diego County. Our mission is to provide compassionate, culturally responsive, and patient-centered care to patients living with and at risk for HIV, many of whom are part of the LGBTQ+ community. The Owen Clinic especially focuses its efforts to support low-income, uninsured, and underserved cisgender men who have sex with men and Transgender women, Hispanic individuals, African American individuals, people with substance use disorders, individuals with mental illness, and homeless individuals based on the disproportionate burden of HIV and worse HIV care continuum outcomes in these populations of people living with HIV in San Diego County. Over the last several years, increasing numbers of LGBTQ+ individuals with and without HIV are seeking care at the Owen Clinic as well as other UCSD clinical settings for primary and specialty care that is affirming and inclusive of all their needs.

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wHY UkraINe’s fIgHT

Is our fIgHT Too

Culture war is the other side of a shooting one. It is just such a war that Ukraine – and us – find ourselves in now. The bullets Ukrainian troops fire are fighting our culture war, while they defend their democracy.

Along with Vladimir Putin’s shifting war aims in his invasion of Ukraine he portrays his war as a crusade against western values that he finds un-Russian, irreligious. On the 30th of September, during a ceremony annexing four Ukrainian occupied oblasts he described the west as ‘Satanic’ and rejecting ‘moral norms’, he asked his audience if they wanted their children offered sex-change operations. Implying that if Russia were unsuccessful in their war that Russians would be subjected to Western values.

Building a diverse, accepting, multi-racial and cultural society is hard work, and it is not surprising that we often fall short. But at least we try. The Ukrainian people have chosen to look to the west for their future. If they lose this war, they will not get a chance to build the society they desire.

Ukrainians are intent on pursuing the creation of a strong democracy with institutions that protect human rights as articulated in the third Title of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. Freedoms that Americans take too much for granted such freedom of cultural expression, and sexual orientation. The right to be Gay, to be Trans. But such an embrace of diversity is ‘Satanic’ for a Russia looking to its past to guide its future.

If Vladimir Putin wins his shooting war against Ukraine it gives his culture war against the west momentum. Those of us who depend on progressive liberal values and an expansive view of human rights will probably see those rights challenged harder here. Putin’s

world view sees second and third-rate people all over the world. Blacks, indigenous people, Gays, Transgender people are all worthy of discrimination to him. Don’t ignore the fact his views have admirers around the world. Admiring Americans include Tucker Carlson, and Ron DeSantis of Florida. Accelerationists whose persecution of LGBT and racial minorities takes the form, in Carlson’s case, hewing to ‘replacement theory’ whereby the US white population is systematically being replaced by Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Carlson and DeSantis wail against gender affirming health care for Trans children as ‘child abuse’. They claim teaching minors about Gays amounts to sexual exploitation. Indeed, Christina Pushaw, Press Secretary to the Florida Governor once went so far as to liken any opposition to DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ as tantamount to grooming kids.

All of which echo Putin’s anti-LGBT rhetoric and actions. Laws passed in the Russian Duma from 2013 desire to preserve traditional Russian cultural values. Of Trans people Putin has said that “Those who support trans rights seek to remove basic things such as mother, father, family, or differences.” That 2013 law banning the dissemination of LGBTQ information to minors added penalties for anyone promoting gender transition with an enhanced law passed in 2017 equating providing information about being Gay or Trans with propaganda making it illegal to promote same-sex relationships. It even criminalizes the suggestion that non-hetero orientations are ‘normal’.

Recently the Institute for the Study of War reported that the Russian state media censor Roskomnazdor announced the launch of the ‘Okulus’ automatic search system that

can scan text, imagery, and video footage to detect Russian state-censored content which includes informational literature deemed as proLGBT defining it as a national security threat.

Putin has shown no hesitance to weaponize energy, food, and winter against a civilian population. Is there any reason to believe he will not weaponize conservative Americans who proclaim their own adherence to traditional values, whatever they are? No country wages political warfare better than Russia.

If Ukraine loses this fight Putin will say the western democracies are weak. That their own cultural rot could not resist military conquest. How can a weakened west, a weakened United States insist upon respect for an expansive and progressive view of human rights when the repressors win?

Ukraine has the motivated peoplepower to more than match and defeat the Russian military. They have demonstrated an inventiveness at the tactical and operational levels of war. Despite many predictions their Air Force still flies. Their Navy, lacking ships, have cowed the Russian Black Sea Fleet, forcing them to operate far off the Ukrainian coast hugging their bases in Sevastopol in the Crimea. They are doing the bleeding. Let us be their armory. Raise the call to Congress and the President. Give Ukraine the weaponry it needs to ensure a decisive military victory. Because if Putin wins there he will not stop. Arm Ukraine. Their fight is our fight.

Veronica Zerrer retired from the US Army as a Major. She is active in area LGBT and Veteran organizations. She is the author of the novel, Memoirs of a Cold Warrior, published recently by Stephanie Castle Publications of Canada.

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“If Ukraine loses this fight putin will say the western democracies are weak”

March 10th is commemorated as National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is a day to “spark conversation about HIV and highlight prevention methods to reduce HIV” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Overall, an estimated 1.2 million people have HIV in the United States. Of those, 263,900 are women, according to supplemental reports from the CDC. While celebrating declining cases in recent years, the CDC recognized that nearly 7,000 women received an HIV diagnosis in the United States in 2019. In this data set, that represents 18 percent, or nearly one in five, of the estimated 34,800 new HIV infections in 2019.

That data showed on average that more than ten percent of

people with HIV did not know their HIV status, though the figure was lower for women. Unfortunately, while women might know their HIV status at higher rates, compared to all people diagnosed with HIV, “women have lower viral suppression rates.”

For comparison, CDC data showed that for every 100 people overall with diagnosed HIV, when it came to HIV+ women, only 76 received some HIV care, only 58 were retained in care, and only 64 were virally suppressed.

Recognized challenges in achieving and maintaining viral suppression included, “missing multiple doses of HIV treatment, missing medical appointments, or needing other important health care services,” such as dental care or accessing supplemental nutritional assistance and shelter or housing services.

Social and economic issues — such as stigma and homelessness — have prevented some women from getting HIV care and treatment.

Importantly, all the CDC data notes that “Data for transgender women are not included because the numbers are too small to report.” This is troubling because “demographic data informs important policy decisions and directs the resources required to implement and execute these policies,” according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). However not surprising because HRC noted that “no state has comprehensive laws or regulations requiring all state data collection efforts to include sexual orientation and gender identity alongside other demographic data like race, ethnicity, and sex.”

In discussing prevention challenges specific to women and girls, the CDC focused on identified social barriers such as “racism, discrimination, and HIV stigma,” as particularly impactful.

Additionally, the CDC recognized that PrEP was effective for preventing HIV in women, but that it’s use among women was “very low” because of barriers including “lack of awareness, negative experiences with providers, lack of confidence that providers know about PrEP, daily uptake, and negative response from partner.” Of the population of women who would benefit from taking PrEP, only 10 percent were prescribed it, according to 2019 data.

San Diego

San Diego County recognizes the unique challenges of providing HIV prevention and care services to women and girls but has

been meeting those challenges head on for decades thanks to local leaders and non-profits.

Christie’s Place is dedicated to “family-centered and comprehensive social services” and focuses on serving women, children, and families impacted by HIV/AIDS, according to its website. The organization is named in tribute to Christie Milton-Torres, who bravely spoke about her HIV diagnosis in the late 1980s when few women were speaking out about their experiences with HIV.

The organization focuses on a wrap-around psychosocial and multidisciplinary model of care that provides services to the whole family, not just the person with a diagnosis. Today, the organization boasts more than 22,000 annual visits and over 1,400 clients served.

Christie’s Place programs seek to create “communities of support, both in-person and virtual,” through social events, empowerment programming, and evidence-based interventions centered on overall wellness and connection to support individuals in initiating and maintaining “stable HIV care and reduce any feelings of stigma and isolation.”

The organizations service includes a broad range of mental health counseling for individuals, couples, and families, educational trainings, prevention services navigation, testing services navigation, and medical and non-medical case management. Additionally support groups and transportation assistance are also available.

They also receive support from San Diego County to run Project PEARL, which stands for Peers Promoting Equity, Advocacy, and Resourced through Leadership. This is an in-person train-

ing opportunity for individuals living with HIV who wish to develop leadership skills and learn more about the San Diego HIV planning process.

Other programs include peer navigators, isolation and stigmareduction events, empowerment trainings, dancing and hope retreats, and participation in “A Women’s Voice Annual HIV Women’s Conference,” presented by the San Diego CARE Partnership for Women, Children, Youth and Families. This year’s event is hybrid — in-person at The Handlery Hotel and online — and free of charge on Saturday, March 11th from 9 AM to 2:30 PM.

The San Diego County HIV CARE Partnership is a collaboration of consumers, providers and community members that empowers consumers, shares resources, educates the community, advocates for public policy and plans services for women, children, youth and families living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The group is jointly sponsored by the San Diego HIV Planning Group and Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Pard D Recipients UC San Diego. The CARE Partnership Committee generally meets on the third Monday of the month, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

The mission of the HIV Planning Group is to plan HIV prevention, care, and treatment services to reduce the impact of HIV in San Diego County. Anyone in San Diego County can apply to become a member, through the county’s Health and Human Services agency.

A list of San Diego County HIV prevention, treatment and care service providers is available online.

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By a llan a cevedo NaTIONal wOM eN aND gIrls HIv/aIDs awareNess DaY nATIonAL dATA And LoCAL evenTs (image by


Happy Women’s History

Month! The California Legislative Women’s Caucus has much to celebrate this year with a record number of 50 members.

The Women’s Caucus has a tradition of recognizing women from each Senate and Assembly district who are accomplishing amazing things in their communities. This year a “Women Making Herstory” ceremony will be held at the Capitol on March 20. Additionally, I will be recognizing several Women of the District, who were nominated by you, our constituents of SD 39!

In early March, I will be announcing all of my district honorees. I encourage you to go to the District tab on my website,, where you can learn about these impressive women and their contributions to our community.

Fighting for Insurance Coverage

As climate change worsens, so too does the risk to life and property, wreaking havoc on California’s insurance market and dramatically driving up the cost of coverage. This has become especially challenging

for residents in condominiums and homeowners association communities (HOAs) in high fire-risk areas who have been left with few reasonable coverage options.

It’s also an issue that is affecting individuals and families in the San Diego region – my office has been hearing from constituents impacted, and local media has been reporting on instances of coverage loss in Rancho Bernardo, Tierrasanta, Mira Mesa, and Scripps Ranch.

My Senate Democratic colleagues and I recently urged Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to take swift action to expand access to California’s insurance safety net, the California FAIR Plan, to these homeowners, because we have an obligation to help safeguard all communities against wildfire risks and other impacts of climate change.

This is just the first step –we will continue to explore ev-

ery option to address this situation and protect our homes, homeowners, and economy.

Expanding Reproductive Care Training and Widening Abortion Access

Building on our success last year to broaden reproductive care access, I recently introduced Senate Bill 385 to expand and modernize reproductive care training for physician assistants. As we watch other states continue to erode access to abortions, it’s clear that we need to continue to do everything we can to increase the number of trained providers available to Californians and those who need to come here for reproductive health care.

SB 385 would apply the same training standards to physician assistants that last year’s SB 1375 established for nurse practitioners and certified nurse-midwives, allowing them to provide first trimester abortions within the scope of

their clinical and professional education and training.

Specifically, SB 385 would also better align abortion training to physician assistants’ scope of practice and provide multiple options for clinicians to get trained in abortion care. The bill would further widen access to abortion services and health care by increasing the number of practitioners available to provide this critically needed care.

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This month ends on César Chávez day, a holiday that we have recognized in California since 1995, but was only formally proclaimed a federal commemorative holiday nine years ago by President Obama.

California state offices and schools are closed on March 31 so that we can reflect on the life and legacy of César Chávez, an American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist.

Chávez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union) with another renowned Californian and labor leader, Dolores Huerta, to advocate for humane working and living conditions for migrant farmworkers in the 1960s. Today, as farmworkers continue to advocate for their rights across our country, Chávez’s legacy reminds us that change is possible when we work together.


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6 e 4 issue 11
Celebrating César Chávez
pU blIC serv IC e / O p INION
—Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate. Follow her on Twitter @SenToniAtkins.
March 2023 volu M
Toni g. atkins MarCH Is wOM eN’s HIsTOrY MONTH (image by


—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.


rag Queens have played a most important and historic role in the history of the LGBTQIA+ Community of America. In the 1960s and 70s Drag shows played a major part in fundraising which provided benefits that helped establish LGBTQ+ organizations and those in need in their communities. In 1961 Drag Queen entertainer and a proud Latino and decorated World War II Veteran, (who I have called the “Rosa Parks of the LGBTQ civil rights movement”) yes, I am talking about the legendary icon Jose Julio Sarria, became the first openly Gay candidate to run for public office in North America. In 1965 Empress one Jose of San Francisco founded the international imperial court system with now 70 city chapters throughout The United States Canada and Mexico.

In 1969 at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City, self-proclaimed Drag Queens Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera played an important role in the three-day riots. Drag Queens have raised millions of dollars with their shows and fundraisers especially during those early dark years of the AIDS epidemic. In the early 1980s, when there were no corporate sponsors or major businesses donating to the cause, our LGBTQ+ Community could only count on ourselves. Drag Queens, Gay bars, the Leather Community, Lesbians/women were almost alone on the front lines of the battle against AIDS. Yes, and Drag Queens have been the founders of countless organizations, AIDS agencies, and annual campaigns (toy drives, food drives, etc.).

Drag Queens and the International Imperial Court System led the successful national campaigns that have resulted in a Harvey Milk US Postage Stamp, the USNS Harvey Milk naval vessel and a national LGBTQ Wall of Honor established in the historic Stonewall Inn. I remember in my speeches at the Stonewall 25 Rally in Central Park and the Creating Change Conference by the National LGBTQ Task Force in Texas I stated, “Many times some of our community leaders and organizations question if

Drag Queens belong at the table of the national LGBTQ civil rights movement, well read this Queen’s silicone filled lips, WE BUILT THAT F*CKING TABLE.”

The list of historic accomplishments of Drag Queens is endless and continues to grow till this very day.

Now Drag Queens are the new target of the radical right wing and conservative so-called Christians with Anti-Drag Queen legislative bills being introduced in dozens of states across this nation.

Well, I am a proud Latino Drag Queen and we have only begun to fight back, and I am proud that the oldest LGBTQ organization in the world, yes, the International Imperial Court System has launched “Operation Drag Defense” and this week has sent checks out to Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, and more to help those fighting bees anti-drug bills in their states. I am honored to be the National Executive Director of this campaign and we need your help. Please send contributions to the ICC (Drag Defense Fund in the memo) c/o PO Box 33915, San Diego, CA 92163.

Thank you.

Drag QUeeNs are a greaT parT of LgBTQ+ HIsTory(image by

7 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11
Nicole Murray ramirez COMMUNITY vOIC es
“Many times, some of our community leaders and organizations question if Drag Queens belong at the table of the national lgbTQ civil rights movement, well read this Queen’s silicone filled lips, we bUIlT THaT f*CkINg Table.”

bIg MIke & 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

Iam 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 who make our slice of paradise the greatest place to live and enjoy each other’s uniqueness.

It is always fascinating to learn about so many individuals who are truly happy with themselves and living their true identity in the world. First, it takes a lot of guts to serve in the United States military and to be out and open as a Trans Black woman. Gizelle Harlow aka “Ariel Fantasia” is someone I admire for her courage in a world that can be very cruel. It is my pleasure to introduce you to the Trans goddess of the sea, Ariel Fantasia.

How did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it?

I’m in the military and came here in 2019 and fell in love with the atmosphere and weather, so I knew after my first tour out to sea I would want to come back which brought me here in 2022 until present day.

In four words, name what makes you get excited about your goals in your life and why?

Family, stability, connection, confidence.

In your professional life what makes your business stand out and how has it changed your life?

Drag has changed my life because it’s sort of a business and as well as it has opened a lot of opportunities that I would have never dreamed of. Strawberry Corn Cakes gave me my first show and now I do STUNT at Rich’s and always love to see how I evolve and show new looks on the stage and showcase who Ariel Fantasea is.

What do you do in your life to help make life a little better for others? Do you volunteer, work with any groups, or help in any charity events?

Yes, I am currently one of the volunteers for the Transgender Health and Wellness Center and I do events to help fundraise for the program as well as help anyone in need. We have benefit show on March 17th tickets are $15 to raise money for the program and it’s at the Diversionary Theater.

If you were given the chance to do something amazing for yourself and one other person, no matter the cost, who would you choose and what would you do?

I would love to go with my partner to Iceland to see the northern lights because it looks so beautiful there.

Who inspires you in life to do your very best and why?

My grandparents, because they have always raised me to be the best woman I can be and not to take no for an answer and treat people the way I want to be treated.

If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be and why?

My pageant for Miss Gay Arizona USofA Newcomer is coming up so seeing myself win a title in the future would be amazing because it’s always what I have been working towards since I started to do Drag. With my mentors and friends cheering me on I know that it will happen.

If you could give someone advice about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them?

If you find it, stick with it and don’t let go. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

Name two people who have changed your life in a positive way and how have they changed it?

My grandparents were, and always will be, my number ones, so I must put them together. My grandmother though was the one that always let me be authentically me know matter the times or the circumstances I went through in my life. My partner Ren for Loving me and letting me grow as a woman beside him.

Gratitude is so important in each of our lives, what are you most grateful for, and how do you pay it forward?

I’m grateful for just being alive. As a Black Trans Woman, especially in the military, it is hard to live but there’s so much that I live for so helping my community in any way I try to do because without their support and love I wouldn’t know what I would be.

8 e 4 issue 11 COMMUNITY vOIC es
March 2023 volu M
by Rikke Photography
IG @ariel_l._fantasea
gIzelle HarlOw aka ArIeL fAnTAsIA
Ariel Fantasia (courtesy images)
“If you find it, stick with it and don’t let go. If it was easy everyone would be doing it”

lIfe beYOND THerapY

—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

Getting older (and looking it) is a terrible thing; I call it “Twink Death”. Staying young forever is what we want. Right? When we’re in our early-twenties, we look quite different than we will in our mid-forties. Our older faces can’t retain the same elasticity and youthful charm they had decades ago. While this really isn’t news, who would’ve thought it would be so upsetting?

When you’re young and cute, getting older seems so far away that it’s not worth worrying about. In our late teens and early twenties, most of us focus on having fun, getting laid and which parties/ bars/events to go to. We may go to the gym, but it’s mostly to fine-tune our beautiful young bodies. Most of us have smooth, shining skin, lots of thick hair and very few physical problems. On the inside, we may have lots of emotional problems, but on the outside, we look really good!

Most of us – both LGBTQ+ and straight folks alike - avoid “Twink Death” for as long as we can. As a young queer man, I remember making fun of bars that older gay guys went to: my friends and I called them “Wrinkle Rooms”, never realizing that, in a few years, we’d end up there ourselves. For some of us, this loss of youth comes sooner (e.g., receding hair line), for others, who won the gene pool lottery, it can be denied for quite some time. But make no mistake my friends: ”Twink Death” comes for us all.

Look how celebrities like Madonna and Leonardo di Caprio are aging: we’re all aware of the power and importance that youth possess. If you’re brainwashed to believe it’s one of the most important things in life, and you don’t have it anymore, you can always do like Leo and surround yourself with it, dating women who are 25 years’ younger than you. This isn’t a new thing: men like Harrison Ford and George Clooney have


long dated (and married) much younger women. You see the same thing when wealthy, older women (like Cher and Madonna) choose to be with much younger men.

It’s happening here in San Diego too: older LGBTQ+ folks – especially those with money and social status – tend to choose pretty, much younger Boy/Girl Toys for their pleasure. These relationships rarely last, but in the short run, the Older Person gets to (vicariously) feel young again and the Younger Person gets lots of material possessions, tickets to the Symphony and financial backing for their own business. But is this a good model for a long-term relationship?

Not usually.

As we get older, “Twink Death” gets closer and closer. For some of us, it’s a gradual process. For others, it’s a helluva shock! One day we look in the mirror and there it is: our stomach sticks out, our eyes have new wrinkles, and our butt doesn’t look so perky anymore. I had a client who regularly went out to clubs with his friends. One fateful night, he noticed that he no longer looked good in tight jeans and t-shirts. He said, “I was cool in the club, but when

I got home, I just sobbed. My youth was over.”

Perhaps Madonna had such a moment recently: after an appearance at the Grammys, she faced heavy criticism for appearing to have undergone dramatic cosmetic procedures. The headline in the NY Post was harsh: “‘Unrecognizable’ Madonna proves she is a clueless narcissist.”


“Twink Death” is all over social media, e.g., TikTok is obsessed with antiaging: encouraging people in their early twenties (or younger) to buy expensive (and unnecessary) serums, anti-wrinkle devices and cosmetic procedures like Botox. If you’re already full of fear at twenty, you’ll be terrified at forty and truly desperate at sixty.

Instead of living a future full of fear, I invite you to thank the “twink” in you for all those years of fun and frolic. Let her/him know that it’s now time to move on to something even better. At some point in our lives, the “twink” in us has to die. It’s okay, because they’ll be replaced by someone older, wiser and more self-confident.

Instead of fighting all the physical and emotional changes in your life, what if you made peace with them, or even welcomed them?

What a concept: looking forward to growing older.

9 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11
“for some of us, this loss of youth comes sooner”
(image by

HOUsTON, we Have a prObleM

korie Houston

— Korie has almost a decade of experience working within the LGBTQIA+ community. Holding various positions within Social Justice advocacy in higher education and journalism in queer publications. He currently works at the University of California, San Diego providing support and championing causes for marginalized communities on campus.

I’m clearly not a stranger to matters of the heart. My last couple of articles have touched upon grief, new beginnings, and sex. What do all of those have in common? For some it’s a breaking point and for others it’s just a typical Tuesday. For me it’s a process I’m just not ready for and I continue to have days where the highs feel euphoric, and the lows feel catastrophic. Houston, we have a problem. How do we move on from monumental moments such as loss and heartbreak?

I recently found out that the person I once loved more than anything is currently in a new relationship. For him it’s been just a few months since we ended our time together. For me it has felt like several lifetimes. I’m a sucker for dramatics and hyperbole but this feels different as I write these words. Some people say when it rains it pours but maybe it’s time, I open up the floodgates. From here on out we’ll call my ex-partner Red. While we were together, I lived in a rose-tinted state where I truly believed that our imperfections were clear, and we were happy. In his mind I cared more about my image than the relationship. Although it’s an oversimplification of many things, maybe it was true. In my mind I believed that he was just pulling away because I wasn’t good enough. Maybe that was also true. My head nor my heart were ready for what was to come. At the end of it all I was left with more questions than answers. Fast forward into a high-speed car crash of a breakup, complete with moments that could rival your favorite telenovela and the rose tint was no longer covering my eyes. But, as we sped into the next chapter of our lives, I was reminded that at no point could I ever make a left turn on Red. Out of the flames of the wreckage, I wanted to understand how do you salvage something so irrevocably damaged. In the end my heart shattered as quickly as the glass of a window. It was over.

I still believe the best in people, yet I’ve become so jaded and it’s hard to cope. I have the tools to move forward and the large trail of disappointments from my relationship

lOvINg HIM was reD

with Red that I thought, I’m constantly given reasons to be swayed away from this pain, yet I keep hoping that maybe it’s not true. The worst parts of who we are deteriorated my belief in a happy ending. What I once thought was the perfect life was far from perfect and my idealistic version of romance wasn’t the truth.

When you feel hurt do you embrace it or run from it? How far do you need to run until it can’t catch up? I’ve learned from my former relationship that I have a lot of growing to do but am I the only one who must? I’m starting to believe that closure is a fantasy, and that true healing begins with you. When it comes to loss there’s many things left unsaid. When someone passes away the times that you shared together don’t disappear but your ability to travel

the road together back down memory lane does. Why does a broken heart feel eerily similar yet different at the same time. The temptation of traversing old paths and patterns feels so intoxicating but is it the right choice? There is no real answer. If you really love someone or something when is the right time to just let, go? I know time is what I need. But with my impatience it’s not what I want. I want too just be okay. Whatever that looks like. Who is this version of me now?

I don’t know how to move on. I feel in ways I created a picturesque world in my head that it has become almost impossible to live within reality at times. It’s easier to cope when I don’t want to stay grounded. Is it wrong to want to not feel? It’s not healthy and it’s difficult to live this way. But when people tend to not

understand what it feels like to drown and no longer see the horizon you get hit with wave after wave of responses like “You need to get over it.”

“You’re resilient” and “It will get better.” But riddle me this, how will I overcome it? When will I know I’m okay? I loved so fiercely until I reached the sun. But much like the story of Icarus I got burned within this deep shade of Red. Growth for me has been realizing that it’s not the sun’s fault for existing or burning so bright. Nor is it Icarus’ fault for wanting to feel the warmth and bask in the radiance. You can come to your own conclusions, but the reality is lessons are learned in the hardest of ways and for me this is where I hoped I could have burned just as bright as the sun instead of burning out trying to reach something I could never touch.

I will always believe the best in others even when it doesn’t always feel like the right choice. My promise to those who read this, is that I need to put myself first. Some people say it’s lucky to have loved than to have lost. To that I ask is there power in the loss? Although this won’t be the last time I speak the truth of my heart, it’s time I heal the burns left behind. Red stopped believing in us, and in the end, he didn’t believe in me.

I know one thing for certain is that sometimes I’m still going to walk through the fire and hold onto the hope that I won’t get burned. You can call it naivety or even bravery, I’ll continue to pick myself up and try it again even if I’m not ready for what comes next. e 4 issue 11
March 2023 volu M
“when you feel hurt do you embrace it or run from it?”
(photo by Ashley Kaplan

TraNs Talk wITH CONNOr 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

Is everyone surviving this crazy winter? I know I am more than ready for Spring. Better weather brings more ways to get together and have some fun. Remember that Trans Tuesday is still happening every week at the Fair at 44. I think I speak for everyone when I say “Thank you” to the Dojo Cafe for always being there and serving up those great coffee drinks every Tuesday night. If you haven’t gone, you are really missing out on some fun and fellowship with our community.

Spring is also a time in San Diego when we celebrate us!

Please join us on Friday April 7th at 6 PM at the LGBT Center in Hillcrest at 3909 Centre St. for our 19th Annual Transgender Day of Empowerment. There will be some speakers, some awards, fun and food, so, save the date. One of the best parts about Transgender Day of Empowerment is the awarding of the Tracie Jada O’Brien Transgender Scholarships. These scholarships of $500.00 each are awarded to any member of the San Diego County Trans / Non-Binary / Gender Non-Conforming community members who will be attending post-secondary school education. This includes university and 4-year colleges, community college, and grad school education as well as any kind of Trade or Technical school. There is no age limit, so older students are eligible as well. Students must fill out the application and send verification from their educational institution, as well as write an essay. If a student wants to apply for a scholarship or someone wants to donate to the scholarship fund, please go to Folks are highly encouraged to spread the word so that we can reach all eligible students, and also attract the eye of any out there who would love to help make a difference for these folks by making a tax-deductible donation to the Scholarship Fund!!!

Every March 31st is the International Trans Day of Visibility. Last year we had a nice ceremony at the Hillcrest Flagpole organized by the Center. I have not heard of any plans yet for this year but hopefully someone will hear the call to action and organize something. Hint, Hint!

San Diego Pride is looking

for volunteers for this year’s Pride March and Festival. There are openings in almost every department from helping with the Parade to working at the Festival. It takes more than a village to put on Pride every year, more like an army is needed. It’s fun and you make new friends as well as free admission to the Festival for both days and don’t forget that awesome volunteer T-shirt that is yours to keep forever! If you are interested, please go to San Diego Pride is also looking for those who feel they have more to share than a 5-hour shift and are invited to check out the leadership positions available, you can view the Leadership Meetings and information on the website.

On another note, I proudly serve on the San Diego Police Chief’s LGBTQ Community Advisory Board. It’s our job to talk to the Chief and our liaison officers about concerns around the safety and quality of life around law enforcement in our city. There is a community advisory board for many underserved and minority communities here in San Diego. The program has been a role model for other cities across the country. I have had the pleasure of meeting and having conversations with Police Officers from a few different cities who were looking to create better community policing in their own cities. Our Liaison Officers are members of our community, they volunteer their time to meet with folks who need help concerning law enforcement issues and complaints. Law enforcement has always been a concern with the Transgender community. The history of violence and discrimination by law enforcement officers goes back many years. Too many of us have had excruciating personal experiences with a law enforcement officer in the past,

especially our siblings of color who are erroneously targeted more than others.

But here in San Diego, although not perfect, (I don’t think that perfect exists because humans just like us have personal issues, racist ideals, bigotry, and internalized homophobia and/or transphobia) we have it better than most.

The San Diego Police Department has worked hard to be protective and inclusive for many years. The first known openly Gay San Diego Police Officer Sgt. Larry LaMond came out in 1977. Since then, our police force has actively strived to improve on their relationship with the LGBTQ community. We have had liaison officers for many years, but most folks are not aware they exist.

Our liaison officers are here to be the bridge between us and the Chiefs of Police. They have been asked to reach out to the community for the very specific reason of creating better communication between everyone as well as act as a go between to resolve conflicts and issues. The sad part is, we as a community have not always made the best use of these available services; I hope to change that.

Speaking with many in our community from all different experiences and life paths, I have found that most people are open to working with the police, especially our liaisons. I know some are very vocal about their fear and hatred of law enforcement, and that is their experience. I also know that many are grateful for the work San Diego PD does. It’s always been my experience that when I discover a disconnect or come across an organization or entity that I am not always in agreement with, or unhappy about the way things are done, I decide to join in such a way that maybe I, along

with others, can make some effective change for the better.

I have worked for many years now with our local police, with the sheriff’s department on a limited basis, and with the San Diego FBI. Over the years I have watched as people continuously raged against our local law enforcement for crimes they may have committed against us and for crimes that were committed against us. If we are truly dealing with an officer or officers who demean, harass, profile, discriminate, and harm us the answer is to make sure that person is reported. The way to fight back is to stand up to hatred. Our city and our police force are adamant about this city being a safe place for all, and that includes the Trans community. The problem is, they can’t fix what they don’t know. The good part is that no one must do this alone. I have said this many times, but if someone is having an issue with law enforcement or pretty much anything else, just contact me. I have also told the officers I work with to call me if they come across a Trans person who needs help or support. The more people we can educate to also become advocates to work with our police officers, the better things will be for everyone. To see change, we must be willing to accept and create that change within ourselves. Getting to know someone, their background, their culture, and their beliefs we often find that we are not so far apart after all. Let’s not be afraid to create that change in places that really are working for us as tax-payers. Working together brings amazing changes.

I know that people often blame the wrong group for actions committed by a different agency. I think our community needs to be better educated about who has control of what.

I am sure most people do not

realize that when someone is arrested, they are taken to one of two jails, males go to the downtown jail and females go to Las Colinas women’s jail. But did you know that when San Diego Police drop them off, they are handing over custody of that person to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department? In my experience working with law enforcement officers, I have had more people with serious issues done to them by the Sheriff’s Department rather than the San Diego Police. Before we go off screaming and yelling about problems let’s be sure we have the facts first.

If you are arrested in California and are going to jail, as a Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming person, what are your rights? Do you know your rights when stopped by any police officer? Do you know what information you need to give to a police officer? We need to know our rights and options.

How do we educate ourselves and who can clarify any questions we have? The answer is that we have these amazing people from our police department called Community Liaison Officers. They are so passionate about this job and I would love for all of you to meet them and get to know them, which is why the liaisons and I are working to put together a Meet & Greet for the Trans community, and later another inclusive of all LGBTQ San Diegans. The date and place are not yet finalized at this point but look for a heads up sometime in March. Whatever your feelings about law enforcement, you owe it to yourself to be informed!

For more information about Liaison Officers or if you are interested in becoming a member of the Advisory Board, please email me at

11 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11
(image by COMMUNITY vOIC es
TraNs DaY Of eMpOwerMeNT, TraNs DaY Of vIsIbIlITY, And more!

QUeer pareNTINg brittany b erger

— Brittany Berger (she/her) is a mother of four and an ally to her three Queer adolescent children. Five years of midwifery education has given her the gift of exploring her biases and learning about social justice, activism, and being an ally. Contact Brittany @

Growing up with Queer Parents has been a topic of debate and controversy for decades, with many questioning the ability of same-sex couples to provide a nurturing and stable environment for their children. However, research and personal experiences have shown that children raised by Queer Parents can flourish and benefit from the unique qualities that come with having two parents who identify as LGBTQ+.

One of the most significant benefits of growing up with Queer Parents is the exposure to diversity and inclusivity. Children raised by LGBTQ+ Parents are often exposed to different perspectives and lifestyles from an early age, which can lead to a greater understanding and acceptance of diversity. They grow up learning that love comes in many forms, and that there are no right or wrong ways to express oneself. This exposure can lead to greater tolerance and empathy, making them better global citizens.

Queer Parents also tend to prioritize communication and openness with their children. They are often more likely to discuss topics such as sexuality and gender identity, which can lead to a deeper understanding of these concepts and a stronger sense of self-awareness. This communication style can also help children feel more comfortable discussing their own feelings and experiences with their parents, leading to a closer and more supportive relationship.

Children raised by LGBTQ+ Parents also benefit from the unique challenges and strengths that come with being part of a minority group. They learn to navigate a world that may not always be accepting of their family structure, which can build resilience and a strong sense of identity. Additionally, Queer Parents tend to be more intentional about creating chosen family and support networks, which can provide a strong sense of community and belonging for their children.

Research has also shown that children raised by Parents of the LGBTQ+ community do not face any significant disadvantages compared to

wHaT CaN CHIlDreN learN from HAvIng Queer PArenTs?

children raised by heterosexual parents. In fact, many studies have found that children raised by Queer Parents have higher levels of self-esteem, academic achievement, and overall wellbeing. These findings suggest that growing up with Queer Parents can be a positive and enriching experience for children.

Personal stories from individuals raised by Gay Parents also speak to the benefits of this experience. Author and activist Zach Wahls, who was

raised by two mothers, has spoken publicly about the impact his upbringing had on him. He credits his mothers with teaching him the values of empathy, inclusivity, and perseverance, and notes that he is grateful for the unique perspective and experiences his family gave him.

Similarly, the children of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have spoken about the love and support they have received from their mothers. Daughter Dylan has noted that her mothers have always en-

couraged her to be herself and have been a constant source of love and support throughout her life.

Growing up with Queer Parents is not without its challenges, but the benefits are clear. Children raised by Gay Parents have the opportunity to grow up in a diverse and inclusive environment, with Parents who prioritize communication, openness, and support. They learn to navigate the unique challenges of being part of a minority group and

(image by

can build resilience and a strong sense of identity as a result. And research has shown that children raised by Queer Parents do not face any significant disadvantages, but rather tend to have higher levels of well-being and achievement.

As society continues to shift towards greater acceptance of diverse family structures, it is important to recognize the value and benefits of growing up with Queer Parents. By embracing and celebrating these families, we can create a more inclusive and supportive world for all children and families, regardless of their structure or identity.

12 e 4 issue 11
March 2023 volu M
“growing up with Queer parents is not without its challenges, but the benefits are clear”

mCC vAndAL To Be exAmIned for menTAL ComPeTenCy, reMaNDeD TO JaIl

riminal proceedings have been suspended for a man charged with felony vandalism in breaking windows and a door at the Metropolitan Community Church in San Diego so he can undergo a mental competency exam.

Richard Meza, 28, was remanded to jail Feb. 16 after his attorney requested the mental competency exam, saying there was a doubt that Meza understood the criminal process.

Meza had been free on bond but is now being held without bail in the central jail downtown. He previously has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges.

He is charged with vandalizing a house of worship and committing vandalism with over $4000 in damages at the church at 2633 Denver Street.

MCC security cameras captured images of a man throwing a cinderblock, rocks, and a soda bottle at two windows and a glass door at 4 a.m. on January 10. The church sent the

images to San Diego Police and Meza was arrested.

The damage to the glass door on the first floor and other windows comes to $4,272, according to the church’s GoFundMe page, which raised several thousand dollars. The windows and door are boarded up.

Senior Pastor Dan Koeshall said other people donated funds as well to total $4,074, which almost pays for the damages. Koeshall said the church has a $2,500 deductible in the insurance policy, and they decided not to make a claim.

Another church donated funds along with a local judge and many others, some from out of state contributed to the GoFundMe page.

The impact resistant film on the windows prevented the projectiles from coming inside the church, Koeshall said.

Koeshall said the congregation has prayed for the vandal, but that he needs to be held accountable.

“I would want him to get

Tap into the benefits that CDs bring


6336 Greenwich Drive

Suite E San Diego, CA 92122


help and then also to prevent that anger from coming out on another innocent person or innocent place,” said Koeshall in an interview with KGTV Channel 10.

The judge on Feb. 16 scheduled a March 30 mental competency hearing before another judge in San Diego Superior Court. Meza will be evaluated in jail and a psychologist will write a report for a judge to read and decide as to his mental competency.

If Meza is found mentally competent, a preliminary hearing would be set with criminal proceedings resumed. If he is found to be mentally incompetent, he would be committed to a state mental hospital where he would be treated and later returned to San Diego once he regains his competency.

The GoFundMe request says MCC “serves a very diverse community where everyone is welcome--regardless of faith, background, race, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”


1 shakespeare’s “anon” updated

5 Concern of gLAAd and nLgJA

10 sourpuss

14 not using the tongue

15 Where a top lays?

16 Antifur org.


1 Bessie of the blues and more

2 start of richard Hatch’s motto

3 Peter of “florence of Arabia” fame

4 Keanu’s role in “The matrix”

5 “dearest” role for dunaway?

6 singer on “Lord of the rings” soundtrack

7 Cabinet div.

8 start of an evan Wolfson memo

9 deuce follower, for mauresmo

10 Cross-dresser m. Klinger’s rank

11 Witherspoon’s favorite cups?

12 Tops

13 uses a turkey tool

18 megan’s “Will & grace” character

19 support for someone on their knees

24 Ball of film

26 Barrie’s boys

28 seattle’s WnBA team

29 sound in a studio

30 Lott of mississippi

33 In need of lube

34 drink served with fruitcake

35 Cukor’s rib donor

36 sooner or later

37 “Bali Hai” setting

40 Joke by Wanda sykes, perhaps

41 michelangelo paintings, e.g.

42 strip in the locker room

44 Kind of milk


Solutions on page 19

may not be permitted. Yields quoted are net of all commissions. CDs require the distribution of interest and do not allow interest to compound. CDs offered through Edward Jones are issued by banks and thrifts nationwide. All CDs sold by Edward Jones are registered with the Depository Trust Corp. (DTC).

45 Light brown

48 Whitecaps off south Beach

51 used car transaction

53 Phallic oral pleasure

54 Black pussy cats, e.g.

56 dark time, in ads

57 Counterfeiters’ nemeses

58 Cut out

59 first trans grammy winner Petras

62 Anal insertion procedure (abbr.)

13 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11 COU rT News/pU zzle
Beginning of a
device to assist penetration
Heston was once its pres.
In a frenzy 49 Bonheur’s word 50 move barely 52 units that make it seem like more inches
Threatening words
end of the quote
Lip service?
easy putt for spencer-devlin
give ___ to (approve)
“da doo ron ron” beginning
didn’t dine out
Look at a hottie in a bar
Angry in., for example
Leases out
Ancient european language
17 start of a quote from 59-down 20 Tango number 21 Celeb dancer on “dWTs,” say 22 elbow-bender 23 “Boys don’t Cry” oscar winner swank 25 gay in the library 27 Arrow shaft 28 Posed for Berenice Abbott 31 Playbill lists 32 more
the quote 35 nBA or nrA 38 “Brokeback mountain” setting 39 Like a member that’s
upright 43
hickey? 44
Q puzzle
FDI-1916M-A © 2022 EDWARD D. JONES & CO., L.P. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. AECSPAD > | Member SIPC Bank-issued, FDIC-insured APY* % * Annual Percentage Yield (APY) effective 03/01/2023. CDs offered by Edward Jones are bank-issued and FDIC-insured up to $250,000 (principal and interest accrued but not yet paid) per depositor, per insured depository institution, for each account ownership category. Please visit or contact your financial advisor for additional information. Subject to availability and price change. CD values are subject to interest rate risk such that when interest rates rise, the prices of CDs can decrease. If CDs are sold prior to maturity, the investor can lose principal value. FDIC insurance does not cover losses in market value. Early withdrawal
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plaCes, peOple. plaCes!

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.

During the 19th Olympic Games in 1968 held in Mexico City, two Black American track and field sprinters won the gold and bronze medals in their field, setting new World records. When it was time to receive their medals, both Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised their fists in solidarity for Black and human rights, as the Star Spangled Banner played in the background. They both got up to the medal podiums with no shoes, but wearing black socks in representation of Black poverty, Carlos wore his suit unzipped in solidarity with American blue-collar workers, as well as a beaded necklace to represent those who have been murdered and were left behind without proper respect or reverence. Smith also had a black scarf on, to portray Black Pride. Joining the two Americans, Australian silver medalist Peter Norman wore human rights symbols on their jacket. Photographer John Dominis captured the striking photograph that made it to the front page of newspapers Worldwide, making it one of the most famous sports images in history. To this day, this protest is considered to be one of the most impactful political statements in Olympic history.

The manifestation was deeply important in the time of political turmoil, and a firestarter for similar events happening in American Football recently. This is constant proof of the cyclical nature of Humanity. The gesture, much like the recent ones, was heavily criticized by both the public and Olympic representatives. The track stars were even booed off by the stadium public. The International Olympic Committee spoke against the athletes’ actions, calling it to be an unfit political statement in an apolitical setting like The Olympics.

They were suspended from the US Team and banned from the Olympic Village. The US Olympic Committee refused to oblige, resulting in a threat to ban the entire US team from the games, and this led to the expulsion of both Smith and Carlos. Through time, their actions have been recognized and revered for opening doors of equality and human rights in Sports, specifically for Black athletes.

PoWerfuL The XIXTh


Golden Globe Award winner Kemp Powers (Disney/Pixar’s Academy Award–winning animated feature Soul, Amazon’s Academy Award–nominated feature adaptation One Night in Miami) wrote The XIXth (The Nineteenth), a suspenseful play based on the historical protest and how sports, politics, and racial issues shape the lives and careers of these brave athletes. The Old Globe is proudly producing the politically and racially charged piece beginning performances midMarch through mid-April at the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

The play will be directed by NAACP Award winner Carl Cofield (Classical Theatre of Harlem’s New York Times Critics Picks Seize the King and The Bacchae)

“The Nineteenth takes one of the most famous images in the history of sports and asks what makes it so indelible,” explains Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. “Playwright Kemp Powers, one of the most exciting storytellers working onstage and on screen today, looks at that image and sets his significant imagination to work. The result is the kind of play I love: driven by passion, full of drama, and focused on big American themes. Directed with verve and insight by Carl Cofield, it’s a striking evening in the theatre, and I’m thrilled to share it with Globe audiences.”

The cast for The XIXth includes Patrick Marron Ball as Pete, Christian Coulson as Neville, Michael Early as Jesse Owens, Biko EisenMartin as John Carlos (Los), Korey Jackson as Tommie, Kimberly Scott as Dora, and Nick Wyman as Avery.

Understudies include Manny Fernandes as Avery, Sarah Joyce as Dora, Jeffrey Rashad as John Carlos (Los), Vandous Stripling II as Tommie, Jude Tibeau as Jesse Owens, and Michael Underhill as Pete and Neville.

Rounding up the production are creatives Riw Rakkulchon (Scenic Design), Mika Eubanks (Costume Design), Allen Lee Hughes (Lighting Design), David R. Molina (Original Music and Sound Design), Caparelliotis Casting (Casting), Marie Jahelka (Production Stage Manager), and Kendra Stockton (Assistant Stage Manager).

The first major production of a play with this theme, during this specific time in history proves to be extremely relevant and necessary for audiences to experience. Major kudos to The Old Globe, for producing important social and politically driven work, this will be, without a doubt, a powerful piece that deserves our support and attention. e 4 issue 11 THeaT er
March 2023 volu
The XIXth (The Nineteenth) is presented by The Old Globe Theatre with performances March 17 through April 23 at the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in The Conrad Prebys Theatre Center. Tickets and info:
“This will be, without a doubt, a powerful piece that deserves our support and attention”
sTeps Up TO THe pODIUM aT THe OlD
Gold medalist Tommie Smith (center) and bronze medalist John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200 m race (courtesy images)


World Premiere!

Book by Adam Rapp

Music and Lyrics by Jamestown Revival

(Jonathan Clay & Zach Chance) and Justin Levine

Choreography by Rick Kuperman & Jeff Kuperman

Directed by Danya Taymor

La Jolla Playhouse

Mandell Weiss Theatre

February 19 – April 2, 2023

Based on the Novel by S.E. Hinton and Francis Ford Coppola’s Motion Picture, this new musical deals with teen gang rivalry in rural Oklahoma during the late 60’s. A dark and compelling story about brotherhood and survival is presented at the La Jolla Playhouse through April.


by Yasmina Reza

translated by Christopher Hampton

Directed by Rob Lutfy

Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company

Tenth Avenue Arts Center

March 2 - 25, 2023

The French play Le Dieu du carnaget, translated to English, follows two sets of parents who have been hurt by each other’s sons at a public park. Attempts to resolve the matter in a gracious way fail, and emotions escalate in this chaotic dark comedy that won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play, Best Actress, and Best Direction.



Music Direction by Elan McMahan

Club M Cabaret Series

Moonlight Amphitheatre

March 11, 2023 7:30pm


San Diego favorite Patricia Jewel debuts her cabaret on the Moonlight Stage as part of the ClubM concerts series. Acclaimed music director and pianist Elan McMahan joins Patricia in a journey through beautiful songs from the stage and screen. This one night only event is not to be missed!


San Diego Premiere!

By Anna Ouyang Moench

Directed by Lisa Berger Moxie Theatre

February 5 – March 5, 2023

From one of the writers of hit tv series, Severance, this story follows a father and daughter, both avid bird watchers, and how their aviary quest brings up emotional turmoil in both of their personal lives, as their own family relationship.

15 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11 ON sTage

ArTIsT ProfILe: DaNNY warHOle

great experimenting with various art forms through paintings and soft pastel drawings. By college, he began to explore figurative art through the use of Bic markers. Not satisfied with the ink spots this medium created, he eventually moved into working digitally.

Warhole received his bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science at Michigan State. Later, he received his Juris Doctor from Chicago Kent College of Law, which informs his daytime career in Administrative Law. With a steady professional position, he found a working balance in his life that allows him to maintain his lifestyle and build upon his creative passions.

A year after law school, he met his husband, Joe. They have been together for eleven years and married for six. During COVID, they decided to move away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago to start a new chapter in their lives. The pandemic opened up opportunities which led them to San Diego in 2021.

Warhole sees himself as an artist drawn to the process of creation. Regardless of the medium the final work takes, his original drawings began with a system of mapping out lines with an emphasis on the interaction of light.

“I’m fascinated by the way light illuminates the body through the use of hard edged, straight lines. Though I was never into comics, I feel as if I found an unconscious inspiration from retro-comic book / pop art, like the works of Roy Lichtenstein. When I now look at pop culture and references, I see that I was drawn to certain things that I applied to my own work that I didn’t notice at the time. There is a certain rigidness to the style that comes through my own use of black and white lines.”

orn in Pennsylvania, Pop Artist Danny Warhole and his brother balanced their young lives in-between his parents’ separate households moving between Pittsburgh and the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.

Having always felt like the outsider, Warhole came out at 16 with an excitement to embrace a life within the LGBT community. Coming out in high school came with its own set of challenges. He survived by participating in community groups and focusing on the friends he met outside of school, which balanced out his informative years.

Exposed at a young age to the arts, Warhole gravitated to artists like Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. Perhaps not fully realizing that the art was created by Gay men, he felt the pull of their personal lives that spilled out into their artworks.

“I felt I was being seen through their art. I felt connected and less of an outsider in the world. I hope to do that for others in my own artwork. If I can make people feel a little less alone and seen through the art, that would give me a sense of accomplishment.”

In high school, his art teacher saw Warhole’s potential and had him work on independent projects. It provided a time that allowed for

“I always had an attraction to black and white art, even in photography. Maybe I perceive the world in black and white. My process has always been rooted in the monochromatic. When I start a new piece, I often break an image down to a grayscale foundation before I transform it. In paintings, this may mean moving into a range of blue hues. Color is a challenge for me. I’m still exploring how to best incorporate color into my work.”

Warhole sees his body of work as a serious exploration of the male form as a tool for communication, storytelling, and inspiration. He hopes to provide viewers an entry point for coming into their own understanding of self by incorporating a playful sensuality.

His current series and commitment to getting it into the art world began in 2019 as the COVID pandemic hit. Initially, the only outlets available to him were virtual with Instagram and Etsy. Since then, Warhole’s artwork has been seen and sold at Circus of Books in West Hollywood, PS Home Boys in Palm Springs, and The Studio Door in Hillcrest. He was delighted when two works were included in this year’s Dirty Show, an erotic art exhibition in Detroit, which were pieces that went over the line for online media. Warhole looks to the future. “I hope to return to traditional media, taking ideas from my current series to some place new. I want to slow things down and enter into a period of exploration. I’m looking forward to reevaluating my work to see how I can successfully create deeper connections for my patrons.”

Danny Warhole can be found online at dannywarhole. com and on social media IG dannywarhole and Twitter @Danny_Warhole. His artwork is currently available at Circus of Books, The Studio Door and by commission.

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

16 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11 e NT erTa INM e NT
Danny Warhole (courtesy image) Jock 2 Jock Hat Day at the Parker

Mesa COllege CelebraTes OpeNINg Of ITs prIDe CeNTer

Abig crowd represented by a large contingent of students showed up last month for the dedication and opening of Mesa College’s new Pride Center.

The Pride Center at San Diego Mesa College was established to create a safe environment where LGBTQIA+ students, staff, faculty, and allies can be their authentic selves, feel welcomed, comfortable and feel “at home.”

Among the services that are now available at the center will include academic, career and personal counseling, workshops, a computer lab, free supplies, an LGBTQIA+

library, training and meeting space along with referrals to additional resources. Among the notables in attendance at the dedication event were San Diego City Councilmember Dr. Jen Campbell, Mesa College President Dr. Ashanti T. Hands, Vice Chancellor of Development and Entrepreneurship Laurie Coskey, Adjunct Pride Center Counselor Coordinator Lucio Lira, City and County Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees Member Craig Milgrim, County Commissioner Bob Lehman and Mesa College Student Andrea Ashley, USMC.

HIllCresT sIgN


In the 1940’s the now iconic Hillcrest sign was the first put up in the then Italian American neighborhood. The Hillcrest Business Association (HBA), which has been going strong for over 100 years have been the guardians of the sign and current Executive Director Benjamin Nichols has, for over a decade made the Hillcrest sign one of his most passionate projects. Last month the new and improved modern Hillcrest sign was lit up to an enthusiastic roaring crowd of fans. Special

guest speakers were Ryan Bedrosian, Rich’s & Board President of HBA, Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez (Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest) and Benjamin Nichols.

The new Hillcrest sign can now light up in an array of colors celebrating such holidays as 4th of July, Cinco de Mayo, Transgender Awareness Month, Pride Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Saint Patrick’s Day and many more.

17 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11 OUT & ab OUT


Mara w. elliott

—Mara W. Elliott was elected City Attorney of San Diego in 2016 after serving as the chief deputy attorney for the Office’s Public Services Section and legal adviser to the city’s Independent Audit Committee and Environment Committee. Elliott and the lawyers in her section held polluters accountable, reformed city contracting, cut administrative red tape, and strengthened the city’s living wage and non-discrimination in contracting ordinances.

Every year, people request and receive records from the City of San Diego on anything from department staffing levels to City policies. Residents may want to know about crimes in their neighborhood, or police calls to a specific property. They may want to know which pesticides are used at their community park, or when power lines on their street will be undergrounded. People seek everything from contracts to traffic surveys to landscape maintenance plans. In a recent two-year period, City employees responded to more than 11,000

ImProvIng your ACCess TO pUblIC re COrDs

public record requests.

Access to public records is a right protected by state law and our Constitution. A public record is defined by law as “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.” Record requests can be made in writing, by phone, or in person. The City’s website portal -- sandiego. – is also a helpful tool. Once the requestor enters a request into the portal, the requestor will receive status updates by email.

A small team under the mayor oversees the process by

determining which departments have or may have the requested records and coordinating the City’s response. Every department – including police, fire, streets, libraries, and parks and recreation – has staff assigned to assist this team. Providing a complete and accurate response to each request can take minutes or months depending on the scope of the request. Older City records may be housed off-site, or in files that have been closed out. Often, numerous departments have responsive records. My Office trains City employees on applicable laws and advises departments when they have questions about their responsibilities under the law.

In rare cases when an attorney sues, my Office defends the City and its taxpayers. San Diego was sued nine times over public record requests in a two-year period -- suggesting a rate of less than 1 alleged error per 10,000 requests. Although this is admirable, our goal is to timely provide complete responses with no errors at all. To achieve that goal, I have again suggested the creation of a Transparency Office with a devoted and expanded public records team. By centralizing this important work, the City can provide the public with a single point of contact and ensure a properly trained staff provides timely responses that are coordi-

nated across all departments. Spreading the responsibility among departments may have made sense years ago, when the City received just a few hundred requests a year, but the increasing demand requires a new approach. What we’ve seen in litigation is that unless the City’s response is flawless, a lawyer can sue and win attorney fees, even if the error was inadvertent or minor.

A recent case concerned a request for the 911 call about a specific incident. No 911 call was made, however, so no records existed. Unfortunately, City staff mistakenly informed the requestor that it had a record of the call, but that the record was exempt from disclosure under state law. City staff was right about the exemption, but wrong that it had a record. The City was sued and a judge ordered it to pay $27,661 in attorney’s fees to the requester’s lawyer -- all over a record that never existed. The typical requester isn’t looking for a payout, but for information about the condition of a Little League field, or about the number of traffic accidents that occur near their kid’s school. That’s why the public record law was created – as a tool for citizens to get quick and easy access to public information. Our City would further the intent of the law and better serve its citizens if it created a Transparency Office. This investment would benefit all of us.

asseMblYMaN warD News

Chris ward

—Assemblymember Chris Ward is a parent of two young children who motivate him every day to make the world a better place. Chris was elected to serve the 78th Assembly District in November 2020, and quickly got to work on legislative action and constituent services to help state resources reach residents in need. He was appointed as Speaker Pro Tempore in December 2022 and to critical committees important to the priorities of the 78th District.

Ihope you are all well. First off, I wanted to let Assembly District 78 constituents know that my district office has moved to a new location at 2700 Adams Ave. in San Diego. We also have a new phone number (619) 280-7801. If you need assistance with unemployment benefits, veterans benefits, the Department of Motor Vehicles or other government services, please know that my district office staff is available and ready to serve or answer any questions you may have. Feel free to reach out and a staff member will connect with you as soon as possible.

Ensuring transparency in government is one of the most important things to keeping the public’s trust. I recently

introduced the AB 302. This bill requires the California Department of Technology to conduct a comprehensive check of all highrisk automated-use systems being used by state agencies. Automated decision systems can be used to detect fraud, improve weather forecasting predictions or make more equitable reimbursements

in welfare services and healthcare reimbursements. But if they are not designed or implemented correctly, they can create unfair or biased results. We need to ensure that California is harnessing the potential of these systems in a responsible way.

To give our teachers and administrators more tools to help

students who struggling with substance use addiction, I introduced AB 599. This bill takes a public health approach to substance use instead of a punitive one. Currently, most schools either suspend or expel students who are found to simply possess illicit drug paraphernalia on campus. In 2022, there were

3,200 drug-related suspensions, making up about 20% of all suspensions in California. AB 599 would allow school faculty to develop a plan to handle these students to address and correct addiction issues without setting them back academically, while collaborating with local stakeholders like community-based organizations, educational agencies and treatment providers to ensure the school environment remains safe.

As always, I want to thank you for your support. I’m grateful to be your representative and work on these issues and more. I wish you, your family and your neighbors all the best this month.

18 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11 pU blIC s erv IC e
(image by (image by
“ensuring transparency in government is one of the most important things”
A neW dIsTrICT offICe aND IMpOrTaNT bIlls BeIng InTroduCed

San Diego man has been sentenced to life in federal prison without parole for killing his boyfriend in Texas after stabbing him 93 times.

Alexander Yoichi Duberek, 25, traveled to Plainview, Texas, where he stabbed Chad David Luera, 30, on the side of a rural farm road in Hale County on Oct. 31, 2020.

“We couldn’t have asked for a different (sentencing) outcome,” said Luera’s sister, Kristen Marquez in a TikTok video. “Justice is served. It is a sigh of relief.”

“It doesn’t bring Chad back, but it does give us justice that we were seeking for him,” said his sister. “There’s no chance of him getting out,” said Marquez. “There’s no early release for good behavior.”

U.S. District Court Judge James Wesley Hendrix in Texas sentenced Duberek for his guilty plea of committing interstate domestic violence resulting in death. He served almost two years in prison since his arrest, but since there is no parole, Duberek gets no jail credits.

Duberek began dating Luera in Sept., 2019 in a long distance relationship since he lived in San Diego with his parents and he traveled to Texas at least three times to see him, according to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal.

Also commenting after the sentencing was the victim’s aunt, who asked “Why would he extinguish a light that shone so brightly for so many?” in reference to Luera. “Why didn’t he stay in California, move on with his life?”

“After viciously attacking him, the defendant left this wonderful human life, who he reportedly loved and wanted to marry, on the side of the road, like yester-

One of two men who participated in a fatal stabbing of a homeless man in Hillcrest has been sentenced to 11 years in state prison.

Willie Gray, 67, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter while his co-defendant Darcell Marquise Moore, 42, was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder in the slaying of Shawn Timothy Puzzo, 60, in 2020.

Moore, who is expected to receive a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, had his sentence delayed Feb. 23 to June 21. Moore remains in jail without bail.

Moore was acquainted with Puzzo, who was stabbed 10 times and robbed of gift cards while he was sleeping in front of a bicycle shop on Washington Ave. near Front Street on April 15, 2020.

Gray contended his only involvement was to be present and that he picked up the knife after Moore dropped it and gave it back to him. Gray denied stabbing Puzzo, but he also pleaded guilty to robbing him.

“They both should spend the rest of their lives behind bars for what they have done,” said Michael Puzzo, the victim’s brother, in a letter to the court.

“Nobody deserves to die like he did. It is really quite upsetting,” wrote Michael Puzzo. “This did not have to happen.”

Deputy District Attorney Philippa Cunningham said the victim’s DNA was found underneath the fingernails of both Moore and Gray.

saN DIeg O MaN seNTeNCeD TO lIfe In PrIson for TexAs murder

day’s trash, like his life didn’t matter, to bleed to death,” said the aunt.

Duberek did not disclose a specific motive for killing Luera.

“The defendant looked his boyfriend’s family in the eyes and described the date night he had planned for the two of them,” said U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton in a statement for the Northern District of Texas.

“But instead of providing a romantic evening, he carried out a sadistic, premeditated plan to take the life of a 30-year-old man and callously dispose of his body,” said Simonton, adding “we are proud to bring this killer to justice.”

Duberek told authorities he arrived at the Lubbock airport and purchased a Toyota Camry for $3,000. He drove to a Walmart, where he purchased a knife, a hatchet, a gas can, a collapsible shovel, a change of clothing, and boots.

Afterwards, he sold the vehicle, but when investigators found the

Camry, they discovered blood in the back seat that matched the victim’s blood. Duberek remained at large for five months and returned to San Diego.

Duberek turned himself into the San Diego sheriff’s department on March 18, 2021. While being booked, he was asked about a tattoo of his boyfriend’s first name on his ring finger. He answered that it was the name of the person he had killed, the U.S. Attorney said in the press release.

During a mental health interview after he surrendered, Duberek said this: “...when I was on the run, I had, uh, I took some time to work on my thoughts, you know, try to get my mental straight which is why I turned myself in,” according to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal.

In her TikTok video, the victim’s sister thanked the Hale County sheriff’s office, the Texas Rangers, the FBI, the Texas Highway Patrol, and the prosecutors for their help.

wIllIe graY geTs 11 Years

San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Groch ordered Gray to pay $1,570 to the owner of the Urban Index business on Fourth Avenue which Gray burglarized on April 15, 2020.

Security cameras captured Gray throwing a rock through the window of the business and carrying out numerous backpacks in a large trash bag by himself, according to his probation report.

Gray was charged with loot-

ing during a state of emergency because this was after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Gray has a long criminal record, having served time in prison before for multiple burglaries in Louisiana and Texas as well as parole revocations, according to the probation report.

Gray received credits of 1,269 days spent in jail and was fined $2,181.

19 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11
pU zzle s OlUTION MaKE LEMoNaDE froM Your LEMoNS froM PaGE 13
COU rT N ews
Chad Luera (courtesy image) Alexander Yoichi Duberek (courtesy image) for mAnsLAugHTer of HomeLess mAn (image by
20 March 2023 volu M e 4 issue 11