LGBTQ San Diego County News May 2023, Issue 4 Volume 15

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COMMunITY vOICes Big Mike & Friends Featuring Rikke Bahena p8

V ersaT ions WiT h niCoLe Harvey Milk Breakfast p7


Be Authentic p10

Li F e Beyond Therapy Psychedelics and Your Mental Health p9

HarveY MIlk DivErSiTy BrEaKFaST

Established by Nicole Murray Ramirez, Robert Gleason, and Dr. Delores Jacobs in 2009, the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast is designed to bring together diverse San Diegans – business, labor, Democrats, Republicans, all communities, all ages, all San Diegans who support equality and justice – to celebrate the memory of this influential civil rights activist.

Five Years of D3 Home p5

PublIC servICe

A Note from Toni: May Brings Memorial Day and AAPI Heritage Month p6

Assemblyman Ward News: State Budget, Legislative Update, & Holocaust Remembrance Day p18

1776 arrives in San Diego p14

On Stage p15

Swing to Eight to the Barre for A Jolly Good Time p16

Gay Man Pleads

Guilty of 2nd-Degree Murder in Killing of Boyfriend p19

San Diego Hate Crime

Suspect Arrested in Poland for Anne Frank House Hate Crime p19

Queer, Trans aPI Week


he first time I wrote about my HIV diagnosis was in this paper (formerly Gay San Diego), over ten years ago. I remember my editor back then calling me to double check I wanted to publish something that would publicly disclose my status as HIV positive. He was worried for me, though he did not articulate why.


uring the month of May, we commemorate and celebrate Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. This month was chosen in recognition of two historical events: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, which was constructed by Chinese immigrant laborers. While we’ve celebrated Asian and Pacific Islander American contributions in May since 1992, many have only just begun truly recognizing the “APIAHM” since the rise in anti-Asian hate that was a result of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This hate isn’t new and our need for visibility and support is not new. Our voices are being heard more than ever. As we saw our elders violently pushed to the ground, and grieved for our women who were gunned down at the Atlanta Spa shootings, only to rehash our wounds during Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, many asked how they can support. Support and allyship are continual and dynamic.

By a llan a cevedoDuring “APIAHM” there are many events that San Diegans can support organized by the same group of organizations that put out the statement calling out the hate and xenophobia. The organizations are as diverse as the Asian Pacific Islander American umbrella. I encourage folks to come out and support with resources and help build capacity.

1 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15 LGBTQSD.NEW S May 5, 2023 vo Lu ME 4 i SS uE 15
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QUeer paren T ing Paul Stanley of KISS Slams Parents Who Support Transgender Children p11 UsT on , We ha Ve a proBL eM
arTIsT PrOfIle Featuring Tim Novara p17
COurT neWs
FriDay May 12, 2023
SexuaL HeaLtH advocateS SeLected for HIv PrevenTIOn fell OWsHIP

It was important for me then, at 22 to share about my experience because I thought it might help some folks. It would make someone feel less alone and it might encourage people to seek testing and explore prevention services. When I wrote that first column about my HIV status, I thought about the first column I ever published. I was 18 at San Diego State writing for the Daily Aztec. My first column was a reminder to get regular HIV and STI tests. In connecting those thoughts, I remember feeling like I let myself down.

I have often considered writing and storytelling to be my most powerful tools. I use those tools as best I can to center my community, provide information, and resources. When writing about current events or legal decisions, I know I don’t need to convince this audience, but what I seek to do is to give people the context, language, and structure to own a part of the work.

This is why it’s special for me to announce and celebrate an achievement with another San Diego advocate for the sexual health and wellness of our community.

NMAC, formally the National Minority AIDS Council, announced its 20-member 2023 cohort for their competitive Gay Men of Color Fellowship for Biomedical HIV Prevention. Of those selected from around the country, two are from here in San Diego, Benjamin Ignalino and myself.

Benjamin Ignalino currently works as the Regional Program Manager for the Pacific AIDS Education Training Center at UC San Francisco and was formerly the HIV prevention services manager at Family Health Centers of San Diego. Ben has over 20 years of experience working in the HIV field as both a frontline team member and administrator of HIV prevention grants focused on PrEP, syringe service programs, and “Queer Care.”

Prior to his current role, Ben facilitated high-impact HIV Prevention trainings and tailored HIV-specific content for CDC-funded community-based organizations. His expertise on HIV testing, prevention, condom distribution, organizational development, and management have helped shape HIV prevention efforts in communities across the country.

I first met Ben when I was a teenager and he worked at the old Hillcrest Youth Center. I had just led our Gay Straight Alliance’s largest Day of Silence protest and we were asked to participate in the school’s health fair. Ben generously gave us a literal trash bag full of condoms and lube, which my boyfriend had to take on the bus back down to South Bay because we did not have a car.

My application for the fellowship focused on my work with the County of San Diego, serving on the HIV Planning Group where I chair the Community Engagement Group, Co-Chair Strategies and Standard Setting committee, and serve on the Monkey Pox Task Force, and the Joint City-County HIV Housing Committee.

Las Vegas, Sex, and HIV Prevention:

NMAC believes the best way to confront racism and HIV within at-risk communities is to work through existing networks to coordinate a targeted response The Gay Men of Color Fellowship trains and networks local educators and advocates about HIV prevention tools like PrEP, PEP, Treatment as Prevention (TasP), and U=U. Fellows will have an

opportunity to learn from experts, present at conferences, run social media campaigns, and complete mini grants around HIV prevention.

As part of the fellowship, we attended NMAC’s seventh annual Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada the second week of April with over 1,400 attendees.

The conference’s goal and was to bring leaders, advocates, and educators all interested in sharing ideas and learning about new approaches to maximize the use of biomedical HIV prevention methods.

This year’s summit focused on sex and pleasure. “Since sex is the main way that HIV is transmitted, we need to focus on consensual sex in all of its iterations,” according to the conference website.

The Summit invited folks to “talk about kink, fetishes, sex work, etc. in an open, honest, and frank way. After all, if we can’t talk about sex, how can we talk about HIV prevention?”

Featured sessions included the need for a National PrEP program, community participation in research, sex positivity, insurance for PrEP and other topics.

Because of our individual experiences, Ben and I were each asked to help facilitate a workshop.

Ben helped lead a workshop entitled “No Fats, No Fems, No Asians” where they discussed the historical context and consequences of the systemic racism that fuel stereotypes of Asian men and woman and its impact of HIV prevention.

I helped lead a workshop entitled “Sex, Baby: Let’s tell stories about you and me.” We lead participants through exercises on the pedagogy of storytelling as a tool for social change and lively discussion on stories about sex, sexuality, and sexual agency. We also surveyed and critiqued the media’s representation of HIV in literature, plays, television, and movies.

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Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast continued from page 1 Hiv prevention Fellowship continued from page 1
“This year’s summit focused on sex and pleasure”
(image courtesy of Allan Acevedo)

As we mark Queer and Transgender Asian and Pacific Islander (QTAPI) Week, coinciding with APIAHM in May and International Pride Month in June, it is essential to recognize the power and importance of intentional spaces for intersectional identities in our community.

The week of May 28 to June 3 celebrates the strength and resilience of the Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and Desi American (APIMEDA) community, and uplifts the joy and pride of being part of the LGBTQIA+ community. This recognition is especially crucial in the face of the continued and escalating racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, classist, and misogynistic violence against both communities.

Since the onset of the pandemic, we have experienced an increase in support for the APIMEDA community during APIAHM. While this visibility is vital, it is crucial to ensure that our efforts extend beyond raising awareness. We must match this visibility with actionable items and equitable investment that create tangible change and foster greater equity for the QTAPI community.

In a city as diverse as San Diego, it is imperative we acknowledge the unique challenges faced by individuals who exist at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities. By creating intentional spaces for intersectional identities, we not only empower marginalized individuals but also advance social justice for all. To support the QTAPI community, it is essential to raise awareness, allocate

resources to organizations working with them, advocate for policy changes, and engage in dialogue.

By creating and supporting intersectional spaces, we celebrate the resilience and strength of the APIMEDA and LGBTQIA+ communities while educating the broader public about the unique challenges faced by those with intersecting identities, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive and just world.

Intersectional spaces serve as safe havens for individuals, allowing them to share experiences, connect with others facing similar struggles, and thrive in an environment free from prejudice or discrimination. These spaces are crucial for fostering understanding and empathy, bridging gaps between diverse communities, and promoting a more inclusive and equitable society.

Historically, AAPI spaces have been experienced by those in the LGBTQ+ community and extremely homophobic and transphobic. Conversely, it should be shocking to no one that historically most LGBTQ+ spaces have been extremely racist to BIPOC community. This lived reality only underscores the importance of creating, supporting, and investing in intersectional QTBIPOC spaces and organizations build by and for those who share these unique and culturally rich lived experiences.

I encourage you all to support organizations who are doing this work like San Diego Pride and their QAPIMEDA Coalition program which is producing an array of these intentional spaces in honor of QTAPI Week.

May 28

QTaPI Sunday Funday at InsideOUT

May 30

Queering aaPI History at Diversionary Theatre, Clark Cabaret

May 31

Rainbow Canvas at San Diego Pride Office

JUnE 1

Snoice to Meet You! at Snoice, Paradise Hills

JUnE 2

night Light at Kate Sessions Park

JUnE 3

QTaPI at Convoy at HIVE

As we celebrate QTAPI Week and APIAHM in San Diego and beyond, let us be mindful of the necessity for intentional spaces that promote intersectional identities, and the importance of pairing visibility with actionable items. Together, we can work towards a more equitable society that recognizes and honors the rich tapestry of experiences and identities that make up our vibrant city. By embracing and supporting intersectional spaces, we not only uplift the voices of the QTAPI community but also contribute to the ongoing struggle for social justice for all.

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Queer, Trans api Week continued from page 1
“we not only empower marginalized individuals but also advance social justice for all”
(image by

Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) has been secured in the latest incident in a spate of San Diego road rage cases where motorists threatened gun violence.

In recent months, the City Attorney’s Office has obtained five GVROs following roadrage incidents, which are on the rise nationally, according to federal traffic safety officials.

“We’ve all witnessed an increase in road rage incidents on local freeways and streets coupled with a disregard for driving etiquette,” City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “We urge drivers not to engage when faced with dangerous situations. If another person threatens you or displays a gun, immediately disengage and call the police.”

The latest road rage case was among 21 GVROs granted by judges in the past month. Those incidents include: a man who called police saying he planned to shoot four homeless men, another who said he would shoot employees of a grocery store, and a third who sent a video to his parents showing him cocking a pistol and texting, “I want to kill you both.”

The road rage case occurred after two cars collided at Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Convoy Street. Dash cam footage confirmed much of what happened next.

After the crash, the victim attempted to pull over but was blocked by

the other driver, who was working as a courier at the time. As the two men drove next to each other, the courier told the victim he had a gun and made a gesture indicating his intent to shoot the driver.

The victim tried to avoid the courier by making a U-turn on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, only to have the

courier pursue him while on the wrong side of the road. When the victim attempted another evasive maneuver the two cars collided a second time. Getting out of the car, the courier again threatened to shoot the victim, and punched the victim in the face through the open driver’s side window.


In recent months, the City Attorney’s Office has received court approval for four other GVROs in road-rage cases where:

· A man brandished a semi-automatic handgun in a threatening manner at another motorist. Police searched his home after the incident and seized a loaded 9mm handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun, and ammunition.

· A driver was engaged in a dispute with another motorist as they drove south on College Avenue. When the two cars pulled into a parking lot, one driver challenged the other while holding a firearm and falsely claiming to be with law enforcement.

· A resident of El Cajon chased down a driver he said he saw speeding through his neighborhood. When the two drivers got out of their cars, the El Cajon man pointed a gun at the victim and yelled, “I’m going to end you.”

· A motorist cut off another driver in traffic and brandished a pistol. The other driver, who had two young children as back-seat passengers, drove off and called the police, who pulled over the respondent and found a pistol under his driver’s seat and another firearm in a duffel bag.

GVROs are obtained by the Office’s Gun Violence Response Unit on behalf of the San Diego Police Department and approved by a judge.

Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have found road rage to be alarmingly common and on the rise. Incidents can range from honking at another driver to murder, with the AAA finding road rage causing 218 murders and 12,610 injuries nationally over a seven-year period.

To avoid being the victim of road rage, both studies found that drivers need to stay calm and composed when encountering an aggressive driver.

Tips include:

· Avoid making eye contact and resist engaging.

· Allow plenty of space between vehicles: If you keep your distance, you’re less likely to do anything that can be perceived as a slight.

· Avoid honking unnecessarily.

· Don’t retaliate: Many road rage cases begin with tailgating. Your safest choice is to let them pass.

Here are some tips to avoid being an angry driver:

· Plan your travel: Allow plenty of time to avoid feeling rushed or stressed.

· Take breaks: During long drives, it’s helpful to get out and stretch your legs and give your mind a rest.

· Don’t take things personally: Even if a driver makes a mistake or does something foolish, don’t allow their bad driving to affect yours.

· Remember that safety comes first: The extra minute or two it takes to drive safely can save you from getting a ticket or worse.

San Diego is a national leader in using “red flag” laws to prevent predictable gun violence in situations where the gun owner has shown a propensity toward violence. GVROs are civil orders that prohibit the use, purchase, or possession of all firearms and ammunition. They can remain in effect for up to five years.

Before a court grants a petition for a GVRO, respondents are afforded full due-process rights, including the right to legal representation in a court hearing that is open to the public.

Find out more about how the City Attorney’s Office is protecting San Diego from gun violence here.

4 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15 neWs Visit us at or email for more information Use cell phone camera to scan QR code above to access information about Caltrans upcoming opportunities
a CITY aTTOrneY seCures GvrO In rOad raGe Case Gun-wieLdinG driver invoLved in
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have always loved shopping for unique, original, fun, wow pieces of furniture and home goods for my home. Well, San Diego is fortunate to have just that kind of place and they just celebrated their fifth year here in our beautiful city. D3 Home Modern Furniture is in the heart of Little Italy at 2400 Kettner Blvd #106, San Diego, California, 92101. It is alive and full of astonishing and beautiful furnishings that are unique and artistic home goods to accent every room in your home or office.

David Diehl and his partner of fifteen years, Michael Chavez, came to San Diego six years ago to look for a new challenging adventure in their lives. When they moved here from Atlanta, David, a designer, discovered there was nowhere to shop for quality, well-priced furniture for his clients. He was having to travel to San Francisco and Los Angeles to shop for furniture that intrigued his clients. Having a background in the furniture industry and history of designing his own furniture line, it was calling him back into the industry. He decided to open D3 Home Modern Furniture here in San Diego.

I asked David where he came up the name D3 Home Modern Furniture and he explained that it comes from their parent company David Diehl Designs (D3) and it is his third furniture store. D3 Home Modern Furniture sells contemporary, livable, con-

ceLebratinG five boLd and creative YearS of d3 HOMe MOdern furnITure co-ownerS david and MicHaeL Have biG pLanS for tHeir future!

tract-quality furniture, which also offers online sales, with a focus on sustainability for your home or office. They believe in working with manufacturers that limit their impact on the environment. Their eco-friendly brands follow manufacturing techniques that utilize materials with more sustain-

able sources and less harmful chemicals. Working with manufacturers who use FSC certified wood, and reclaimed wood, they don’t just send good vibes for your home and the planet – they live it out.

Excited about their fiveyear anniversary, co-owners David and Michael have big

plans for their future. I asked David about their goals in the coming years. “We are in the process of expanding and moving locations into a showroom over three times the current size. Our plan is to have all top designs made in house and manufacturing all in one location, delivering the

best customer service in the industry.”

I have been very fortunate over the years with their generosity from D3 Home Modern Furniture. They have helped with many of my charity events these past five years to help better others in our community. I personally want to say “thank you” for being involved and caring. There is a great group of very talented and creative co-designers who work together with David and Michael. You can just tell by walking into their amazing showroom. Gay-owned and operated, I invite you to check out their showroom, greet David and Michael, and meet the rest of their innovative co-designers. Congratulations on celebrating five wonderful years; may you continue your success years to come!

5 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15 neWs family-friendly entertainment at the Paddock Stage SATURDAY, June 10 SATURDAY, June 10

a nOTe frOM TOnI

May is the month when we honor all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while wearing the uniforms of our nation’s military. As someone who is proud to come from a military family and to represent an amazing military district, Memorial Day is one of the most special and significant days of the year for me.

May is also AAPI Heritage Month, when we celebrate the contributions of our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities here in San Diego and throughout California. We also stand with our AAPI community against the alarming and hateful acts that continue to impact our neighbors and commit ourselves to working toward a future for AAPI communities that is free from hate, and inclusive and equitable for all.

California Dream for all

Last year, I proposed the California Dream for All Program to allow California to partner with first time homebuyers to expand homeownership and be another tool to chip away at California’s housing shortage. The program is off to an incredible and inspiring start – during the first two weeks of it its launch, more than 2,400 first-time homebuyers were helped with their down payments. That rapid response and resulting use of the $300 million in funding currently identified, is a testament to just how critical this program is for California families – especially those who historically have faced systemic barriers to home ownership – and the need to continue to fund the program.

The 2022-23 state budget appropriated $500 million for the program, the remaining $200 million has not yet been released. I look forward to working with my

colleagues in the Legislature and the Governor to release the additional $200 million appropriated in the 2022-23 for the program. I also plan to work to secure more state funding and explore additional private sector options to bolster the program and help even more families achieve the dream of home ownership.


SB 447 – The BRIDgE Project – Opening Hearts and Minds

Earlier this spring, I introduced SB 447, which is an innovative new approach meant to encourage acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community in other states. This bill proposes to lift California’s travel ban and creates in its place a new program to promote inclusion and respect, especially in states that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Called the BRIDGE Project – Building and Reinforcing Inclusive, Diverse, Gender-Supportive Equality, the program is focused on discouraging discrimination and helping people in other states feel supported and less isolated through non-partisan, uplifting messaging. As someone who grew up gay in the South, I saw first-hand the difference personal connections made in changing or opening hearts and minds. At a time when LGBTQ+ rights and protections are being rescinded, and the very words we use are being weaponized, putting understanding and kindness at the forefront is more important than ever, which is what this bill seeks to do. SB 447 was approved by the

Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on April 17 by a vote of 10-3.

SB 450 – Making the HOME Act More Accessible

After hearing from constituents and Californians across the state, I introduced SB 450 to modify SB 9, the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act, and make it even more accessible for homeowners who wish to use it. The HOME Act, which was signed into law in 2021, widened access to housing for California working families by streamlining a homeowner’s ability to build a duplex or split their current residential lot, allowing for a maximum of four units on a single-family parcel.

These new changes to the law would add an ‘application shot clock,’ requiring local governments to either approve or deny an application for a new unit or a lot split within 60 days, and would require the local government to provide homeowners with a reason and a remedy if their application is denied. These changes also would align SB 9 with the existing ADU law, and make it easier for homeowners to navigate the application process. The proposed changes also would ensure that local governments are consistent in their zoning, subdivision, and design standards, so that no overlyburdensome requirements can be foisted upon homeowners, and would give the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Housing Law Unit accountability and enforcement authority over the law. The

bill was approved by the Senate Housing Committee on April 19 by a vote of 9-1.

SB 519 – Promoting Safety and Transparent Oversight of County Jails

SB 519 would promote safety in county detention facilities and ensure more transparent oversight of the Sheriff’s Departments that oversees them. Last year, in response to urging by members of San Diego’s legislative delegation, the State Auditor examined the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and deaths of persons in custody, and released findings that reported the department had systemic issues with its policies and practices that undermined its ability to ensure the health and safety of those in custody.

From 2006 through 2020, 185 people died in San Diego County’s jails – the highest death rate per capita in California. While the Auditor recommended that the department take steps to prevent similar future deaths, address deficiencies, and increase public transparency, ongoing concerns remain. In response, I have introduced SB 519, legislation that would give local county Boards of Supervisors the authority to establish a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation if their Sheriff’s Department is unresponsive in addressing problems with county detention facilities. It would also ensure that full reports of investigations relating to in-custody deaths are publicly accessible in order to help prevent and reduce future deaths. The bill also expands the mission of the Board of State and Community Corrections to adjust its mission to further promote legal and safe conditions for youth, inmates, and staff in local detention facilities. SB 519 was approved on April 25 by the Senate Public Safety Committee by a vote of 4-0, and on April 26 by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee by a vote of 6-0.

SB 385 and SB 487 – Expanding and Protecting Abortion Access

SB 385 would expand training for physicians assistants to allow them to perform first trimester abortions under their scope of practice. It was approved on April 10 by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development in a 10-3 vote, and by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 9-2 vote on April 18.

SB 487 would strengthen protections for California healthcare providers who offer abortion care services and genderaffirming care. It was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 8-2 vote on March 28, and by the Senate Health Committee in a 9-2 vote on April 19.

LGBTQ San Diego County News

PO Box 34664 San Diego, CA 92163



Terry Sidie


Nicole Murray Ramirez 619.241.5672


Cesar A. Reyes



Brittany Berger

SALES 858.886.9458


Big Mike Phillips 619.807.7324



Adam Martindale

Alex Villafuerte

Allan Acevedo

Berto Fernández

Big Mike Phillips

Brittany Berger

Chris Ward

Korie Houston

Michael Kimmel

Neal Putnam

Patric Stillman

Toni G. Atkins


LGBTQ San Diego County News is distributed free every first Friday of the month. © 2023. All rights reserved.


LGBTQ San Diego County News encourages letters to the editor and guest editorials. Please email them directly to and include your name, phone number and address for verification. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and accuracy. Letters and guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers or staff.


Press releases and story ideas are welcomed. Send press releases, tips, photos or story ideas to For breaking news and investigative story ideas, contact the editor by phone or email.

Copyright © 2023 LGBTQ San Diego County News

Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this publication’s advertorial, editorial and opinion pages are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of LGBTQ San Diego County News. The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.

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

6 e 4 issue 15
PublIC serv IC e / OPI n IO n
—Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate. Follow her on Twitter @SenToniAtkins.
May 2023 volu M
Toni G. atkins
MaY brInGs MeMoriaL daY and aapi HeritaGe MontH


nicole Murray ramirez

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

When I first established the, now 15th annual, Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in San Diego, it was done in the wonderful traditions of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Cesar Chavez breakfasts. It was my aim that our community also would establish an annual civil rights breakfast and because of the support of Robert Gleason and Dr. Dolores Jacobs of the LGBT Center (my two founding Co chairs) it became a reality and its highest attracting over 1200 people from all walks of life. I worked with Harvey milk in the 1970s against homophobes Anita Bryant and John Briggs and got to admire and love Harvey’s humor and love of Drag Queens. He adored Jose Julio Sarria and Sylvester and the Imperial Court of San Francisco. Harvey especially loved my mother and mentor, LGBTQ icon and World War II Veteran and the first openly LGBTQ candidate to run for public office in 1961, Empress I, Jose Julio Sarria.

When Harvey Milk was assassinated along with San Francisco Mayor George Mason, I vowed that he would never be forgotten and thus the following; the Harvey Milk US Postage Stamp, the USNS Harvey Milk Vessel, Harvey Milk Street (the first in the nation) the Harvey milk memorial bench and Balboa Park, the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Award (established in 1979), the Harvey Milk Democratic Club of San Diego County, the Harvey Milk/Nicole Murray Ramirez Scholarship Program, etc. Trust and believe that all these accomplishments were done because of many people and organizations especially the Imperial Court de San Diego and the International Imperial Court System of the US, Canada and Mexico.

Becoming a good friend of global civil rights advocate Stuart Milk (Harvey’s nephew) and serving on the International Harvey Milk Foundation is such a highlight and honor for me.

Last month I was honored with the Harvey Milk Medal of Honor in Florida and on May 11th I will be honored

HarveY MIlk breakfaSt MaY 12tH

at the Palm Springs Convention Center with the Harvey Milk Legacy Award, both truly “pinch me” moments.

I know that Harvey would be so proud that on May 12th San Diego will be honoring LGBTQ advocate, our communities beloved Paris Quion. We will also be honoring a national LGBTQ treasure and champion, Mayor Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City, our local Trans heroin Lili

Wrene Wood, our pride of sports leagues the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club, and a true LGBTQ trailblazer and fighter for our rights for over 40 years the legendary Lorri L. Jean. Three students will also once again receive $6000 in scholarships provided by the International Jose Julio Sarria/Nicole Murray Ramirez Scholarship Program our San Diego LGBT Community Center and the Harvey Milk/

A special thank you to our next Lieutenant Governor Tony Atkins, Mayor Todd Gloria, and all my friends and supporters and as you all know why, I founded this civil rights

breakfast to honor the legacy of Harvey Milk and to honor outstanding individuals that are walking in his footsteps, which is always my priority and focus.

7 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15
Nicole Murray Ramirez Scholarship of the Imperial Court de San Diego.
ns COMM un ITY v es
Nicole Murray Ramirez and Harvey Milk
“becoming a good friend of global civil rights advocate stuart Milk (Harvey’s nephew) and serving on the International Harvey Milk foundation is such a highlight and honor for me.”

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 seems I connect very well with people who are or have been in the food and beverage industry since I made my living as a waiter and bartender for forty-two years.

I have had the extreme pleasure of knowing and becoming wonderful friends with Rikke Bahena who is the General Manager of The Loft. Not only that, he is an incredible photographer who has put his talents into a very positive project to include so many people. I’m sure if you are from San Diego, you must have seen it #Together Strong. Rikke is one of the kindest and most loving individuals you will ever meet. It is my pleasure to feature my dear friend who makes the word CHEERS describe both of the worlds he works and lives in and the joyful person he is. How did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it.

San Diego has always been a dream to live in. I started traveling here when I was 15, taking advantage of summer vacation while in school. I have some family here, so it was easy to come and stay with them. They always took me around to go shopping, visit the beach, parks, and so on. Coming from a big city like Mexico City, I found San Diego much quieter and less stressful. Additionally, the scenery close to the water was always so peaceful and beautiful. Tell our readers about yourself.

As I mentioned, I was born and raised in Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world, with a rich history of culture, tradition, and gastronomy. I am proud to be Latino. I received all my education in Catholic private schools, from kindergarten all the way through high school. The university I attended was a private, bilingual institution where I earned my bachelor’s degree in business administration. Throughout my school years, I was always involved in academic activities, earning straight A’s, though I wasn’t very good at sports. In college, I served as the president of the Student Society and col-

laborated with the university’s rector, professors, and students to create an environment where students could maintain the highest academic standards while also promoting their cultural side through various art forms such as dance, music, and photography.

I started working while still in college at a TV company called TELEVISA, one of the most important companies worldwide. At that time, it was the only company that imported talent, music, soap operas, and more effectively a monopoly. I worked there for five years, heading the training department, organizing training courses, and giving some myself as an instructor to all levels of the company.

After five years, I decided to leave and venture out to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I stayed there for a while but eventually returned to Mexico City. However, I felt the need to explore more and, since I had family in San Diego, I decided to move there. The transition was not easy. Unfortunately, the family member I was supposed to stay with asked me to move out when he found out I was gay. His religious beliefs convinced him that I was a threat to his marriage and child. We no longer talk, but experiences like this build your character. Fortunately, my sister offered to open her doors, even though she was not in the best position to do so. This taught me that the people who help are not necessarily the ones who can but the ones who want to.

I started volunteering for the Saint Vincent de Paul organization, helping with donations that people were bringing due to the big fires that took place in 2004. People started to notice my professional side, and I was hired shortly afterward. A few years later, I met Richard “Omar” Lowry, who was an avid shopper always looking for antiques and other cool things. I met him at a store I was managing. He talked to me about his past experiences, which included being a bartender at #1 Fifth. He offered me a job as a barback temporarily, and from there, he took me under his wing. Thanks to him, I was able to grow and make his business a

success. He was like a father figure to me, and I admired and respected him very much. I am proud to have been part of an amazing team and the most successful years of that business. I will cherish those memories always.

For the past two years, I have been General Manager at The Loft, also working with an amazing team, creating a safe space for diversity, inclusion, and love. I have also been a photographer for many years, supporting my community and bringing out the most beautiful side of every person. I founded Project Together Strong, where I paint hands with different flags of the LGBTQ+ community to unite and make it stronger with love. My objective is to raise visibility and let people know that we are awesome human beings!

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

My main objective in all the places where I have worked has been to create a culture of respect and support within my team. I always encourage them to educate themselves more and thrive in different parts of their lives, so that we can be better employees and offer a better experience to our customers. I will always be there to support them and try to help them be the best version of themselves.

I feel that a good leader needs to create more leaders so that whenever I am not here, someone can take over the business. All the businesses where I have worked have been successful because I create a different energy of work and relationship with everyone, starting with my reps, my vendors, the drivers, and the neighbors. It is all about creating loyalty and treating everyone with kindness and respect. Knowing this has changed my life because I realized that wherever I go, I can create that energy to be successful myself, as well as for the people around me and the business as well.

One of my latest projects is “Rikke and Fitch” which gives the spotlight to different personalities in our community that help us to be better! Sharing their awesome

the person I am because of her. We have been through very tough times because she taught me resilience, kindness, gratitude, and that love prevails. To never beg for love, presence, nor attention. Whoever wants to give you that will always give it to you without conditions.

Nowadays, I have the privilege to take care of my mother in all senses. I call her every day, and I’m very fortunate she is in good health. I make sure she has everything she needs to have a comfortable life.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie and what is your most embarrassing moment?

I don’t really lie much. Even when I’m asked about my age, I say 37! Just kidding, I’m 46, but I try to be as transparent as I can. Well, maybe when I’m depressed, I pretend everything is fine and lie because I don’t want to worry anybody. My most embarrassing moment was probably forgetting the words of a poem in a poetry competition, but I still started all over again and got third place!

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

work and the endless support and love to all of us.

Where do you see yourself in five years and what goals do you have to support living your best life ever?

I don’t think too much about the future, to be honest. I have lost so many people around me. My father died in a car accident when he was just 42 years old. He was always thinking about the future and how he could live a happy life. But I learned that the happiest and best life is here and now. I am grateful every day when I wake up, and I try to be in the best position to open my mind, accept what life brings me, and learn from the difficulties that some days may bring.

I believe that happiness is found in the present moment. It’s when I call my mother and hear her voice, when I take a walk with my dogs, when I exercise in the morning even though I may not always feel like it, when I dance and do ridiculous things. I appreciate these moments, even the ones where I may not feel in high vibration. I accept those moments because they make me human, humble me, and help me realize that I’m perfect with all my mistakes and imperfections too.

Today should be your best life always.

Do you have any nicknames from when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My nicknames have always been Ricky, Ritchie, and even Enrique, although my given name is Ricardo. For my photography business, I created the name “Rikke”, which also doubles as my alter ego. I created a character with that name who is more extroverted and not afraid of success.

I have always had a desire to be a teacher, and at some point, I have fulfilled that dream. I have been a trainer, and by sharing my life experiences, I hope that some people are receptive enough to learn from my adversities and successes.

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

Hands down, my mother has been the biggest inspiration. I’m

Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid of change. Create connections with awesome people and treat everyone with kindness because you never know when you’ll run into them and need some help. Cherish the opinions of people you respect; the rest is just noise. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to be funny, ridiculous, or over the top. You don’t need to be a fashionista, but always wear clean clothes and realize that your presence is always important. You never know when you might change someone’s life just by being who you are.

If you enjoy cooking what is your favorite food to cook? If you don’t enjoy cooking, what is your favorite food and what is your favorite restaurant to eat from?

I don’t know how to cook! I know, it’s lame! Even though my mom is an incredible cook, she never let me learn. She always said that my priority was to keep studying and have good grades, and she would take care of everything else. I loved her for that, but nowadays I feel like there are some things I could have learned from her.

Anyway, I love Mexican food, Italian, and sushi! I think I just love food in general!

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 every day to have the capacity to choose how my day is going to go. I’m grateful to hear my mother’s voice every day, and I’m grateful to know I have the ability to decide what I want to do.

I’m grateful to have some memories with my dad that keep him alive in my heart. I’m grateful for the people that surround me, my friends for their love and support, and my partners I’ve had because they taught me how to love myself.

I’m grateful for my dogs who give unconditional love, for my family, for my work, for my health, and for the opportunity to keep learning. You know when I pay it forward. It’s when I share my work through my actions, respect, and love always love.

8 e 4 issue 15
May 2023 volu M Photo by Rikke Photography
rIkke baHena Rikke Bahena (courtesy images)

lIfe beYOnd THeraPY

—Michael Kimmel is a

after being classified - for decades - as illegal and controlled substances, medical science is finally realizing the value of psychedelics like psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD (acid), MDMA (ecstasy/ molly), and ketamine (which is technically considered to be an anesthetic with psychedelic effects) in the treatment of depression, PTSD and other mental health conditions.

This has been a long time coming.

But, we’re not there yet.

I am neither a physician, scientist nor pharmacologist, so my opinions on this topic aren’t based on my own research, training or professional knowledge. As a licensed psychotherapist, I have read a lot about the use of psychedelics and mental health, but I cannot legally prescribe or recommend them. As a private citizen, I have tried a few of these substances myself and have friends and colleagues who have tried many more.

Also, it’s no secret that lots of Tech Genius/IT types have been micro dosing on psychedelics for years. A micro dose is a small dose of a psychedelic that many people believe can help boost creativity, productivity and could even work as an antidepressant.

As of this writing, a lot of this stuff is still (technically) illegal. At present, I do not have any legal ability to supervise the use of these substances by my clients or to recommend that they use them on their own. However, when big, prestigious research institutions like UCSD are doing research with ketamine for depression – one of my clients is in one of their ketamine research studies - you know that soon it will hit the mainstream.

In my late thirties, I did a couple of ecstasy (aka MDMA) sessions with an ex-boyfriend who called himself a “spiritual guide”. He tape-recorded the sessions. They were both interesting and useful. Since

PsYCHedelICs and YOur MenTal HealTH

then, I’ve experienced similar “highs” of insight and altered states from meditating, dancing, yoga and other practices.

Personal growth can take many paths. That said, I think we’re on the edge of a radical shift in mental health care. Are psychedelics the next cannabis? Many people – doctors, scientists and Silicon Valley gurus alike - say, “Yes”.

The FDA — which 50 years ago banned psychedelic substances — has started loosening restrictions to allow their study and use: recently designating MDMA a “breakthrough therapy” to treat PTSD. The FDA also approved ketamine for treatment-resistant depression in 2019 and deemed psilocybin a breakthrough therapy for major depressive disorder.

Psychedelics have been further legitimized as potential treatments for disease by the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, who organization received $17 million in funding to exclusively study the efficacy of psilocybin and other substances for a variety of mental health disorders. The center’s establishment marked a turning point for psychedelic research: if one of the most prestigious research institutions in the United States was devoting this much time and energy to the relationship between psychedelics and mental health, then a paradigm shift

dopamine, a huge part of current research attributes the success of psychedelics to two admittedly highlysubjective occurrences: ego dissolution (described as the complete loss of one’s sense of self), and mystical types of experiences (hallucinogenic encounters with what’s described as a divine or spiritual entity). In studies on the effects of psychedelics on depression, participants who experienced these states saw the strongest and longestlasting improvements, and many consider them to be some of the most important and life-changing experiences of their lives.

There’s strong evidence that the environment/situation in which a person takes psychedelics has a huge effect on the outcome. As I understand it, psychedelicassisted therapy is a therapy session assisted by a psychoactive compound. In the protocol set up for most clinical trials, one or two facilitators are in the room to help the patient through the psychedelic experience, and multiple subsequent therapy sessions help people process and integrate that experience. It’s in this process where researchers believe the healing lies.

Could we be on the verge of a “psychedelic renaissance”?

Stay tuned…

9 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15
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
For tickets and further information visit: 15 th annual friday, may 12, 2023 7:30Am - 9Am HILTON BAY FRONT 1 PARK BLVD, SAN DIEGO, CA 92101
“Personal growth can take many paths.”
(image by
is underway. Despite the recent resurgence of psychedelic research, much is still unknown about how these substances work.
While research shows that psilocybin works on the serotonin receptors in the brain and MDMA encourages the release of serotonin and

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.

Houston, we have a problem. I’ve gone through conversations about heartbreaks, love, grief and now I’m tackling self-discovery and authenticity. What’s the problem you ask? The problem is I’m tired of people asking or wanting me to change. Like anyone else there’s a laundry list of things about myself I’d love to alter overnight. Sometimes I wish I was more toned. I wish my hair was easier to manage. I wish my nose wasn’t so big. I’ve even wished I was a different skin color because navigating the world looking like me is not always one big pride party. These are usual insecurities that people have about their appearance. But to change my personality would be asking me to change myself and I can’t be anyone else.

I pride myself on my ability to connect with people past surface level beliefs and ideals. To navigating the world in my own way, with my own style and my own methodology of communication. Simply put it has taken so much time and I’ve lost parts of myself along the way, but I love being me and I wouldn’t change that for anything. This article isn’t a think piece on how to love yourself but rather a reminder to just be yourself and to fall in love with who you are.

I’ve spent years trying to be molded into the person that everyone wanted me to be. The perfect son, the perfect partner and to have a perfect image curated so finite to a point that no one can ever say, “I’ve seen you at your worst.” When so many people perceive you living a picturesque fantasy the reality is in living this way everyone has seen me at my worst because the image that you see isn’t always real. How do I cope in a reality where my only form of armor is to never let the world see me crumble? Is my authenticity real or is that part of the facade? There’s a cost to everything.

I often tell people in short to just be authentic. In Queer spaces, on social media and in our friend circles we share these intimate glimpses into our lives in hopes that our stories and narratives that we weave bring us deeper connections and in turn create unbreakable bonds with our

be auTHenTIC

fellow humans. For my own part, I sometimes struggle with reminding myself that there is no such thing as being too authentic. Is what you see always what you get? In my case my words always feel genuine, but my emotions may not always be. I was once told that a whole room may know if I’m angry but may never know if I’m happy. That sentence struck a chord with me, and it got me wondering, do I deprive myself of genuine joy in the pursuit of making others happy? Do I focus more on how I’m perceived with these carefully curated stories I share about my life? Or is the real way I connect with others more than just about perception? I have no answers to any of these questions.

In a previous article I talked about how someone in my life once said I care more about my image above all else. As I explored that sentence more,

I thought about how often I’ve been asked to change or to tone myself down in defense of said image. Why should I have to be different to fit the image that was created of me in someone else’s head? I’ve been told a lot of things in my time on this earth. I’ve been told how I should dress because someone is always watching. I’ve been told how I should speak because people are always listening. And I’ve been told how I should live because my lifestyle isn’t “traditional”. These sentences go as far back as my upbringing and as far forward as my love life. At some point I had to realize was I living my life for others more than I was for myself?

I want to be loved for me and not for how you see me. The clothes I put on are my commitment to basking in my truth. But as we talk about the armor, we wear sometimes that can be chipped away.

What’s underneath the clothing? My skin. What’s beyond my skin? Who am I outside of the surface level things where one I can change and one I can’t? I live the way that I live because I never want to be told I’m not enough. I’ve shared through my writing that it’s okay to shatter into a thousand pieces in the name of speaking from your heart. But truth be told I’ve never been comfortable with the world being able to see so far into my life. So, when the pieces need to be put back together, I ask myself, “Did I still sparkle?” When what I should have been asking is “Will I be okay?”

How do I show up for myself more and not the image that exists for others? The truth here is that I have been told I’m not good enough. Whether it be through actions or harsh truths. I wasn’t good enough for a job, I wasn’t good enough to be part of someone’s life and

in some cases I wasn’t good enough to continue to be loved. Within those truths came the actuality of knowing my own worth. My existence is not and cannot be tied to that of others and that is the journey I’m learning for myself. I love myself enough to know that the perception that others have should not dictate my existence.

It may be cliché but part of loving yourself is to know yourself. I’m finding new ways to fall in love with life and half of the journey so far is to not live for the validation of others. There’s no such thing as perfection and as I’ve routinely been told, perfection is the enemy of great. Being okay is more than enough. The standards that were created are things that we should dare to defy. So, I ask this last question. Who are you underneath your armor?
May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15
“I want to be loved for me and not for how you see me”
(photo by Ashley Kaplan

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 @

Paul Stanley, 71-year-old musician of KISS, and parent to 3 children ages 11-16 made a public statement on social media last weekend that slams parents who support gender affirming care for their children.

In his statement titled My Thoughts on What I’m Seeing, the rocker claims “many children who have no real sense of sexuality or sexual experiences caught up in the ‘fun’ of using pronouns and saying what they identify, as some adults mistakenly confuse teaching acceptance with normalizing and encouraging a situation that has been a struggle for those truly affected and have turned it into a sad and dangerous fad.” There is so much misunderstanding, assumption, and ignorance in Stanley’s statement.

Stanley misrepresents gender identity with sexual orientation and refuses to acknowledge the medically accepted definitions of each. It is time that we properly educate the ignorant. Let’s start with definitions published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical organizations. 1. GENDER IDENTITY: A person’s deep internal sense of being female, male, a combination of both, somewhere in between, or neither, resulting from a multifaceted interaction of biological traits, environmental factors, self-understanding, and cultural expectations. 2. SEXUAL ORIENTATION: A person’s sexual identity in relation to the gender(s) to which they are attracted; sexual orientation and gender identity develop separately.

Stanley makes this assumption that parents who support their Trans children are doing this for “fun” and calls it a “sad and dangerous fad” and he somehow separates children dealing with gender dysphoria from “those truly affected” as if children are not people and do not have the sense to have a gender identity. Meanwhile the AAP is clear that not supporting Trans children with gender affirming care “can prolong or exacerbate gender dysphoria and contribute to abuse and stigmatization.”

I have news for Mr. Stanley,

normalization is acceptance, and we are not teaching our children to be Transgender. I can barely get my kids to eat their veggies and getting them to clean their rooms is a fight, and he thinks we can convince our children to change their gender identity; that is pretty far-fetched. The real fad here is the anti-Trans fad being fueled by right wing conservatives, many of which are treating Transgenderism as a perversion when it has nothing to do with sexuality whatsoever. Stanley himself has built his career on wearing women’s clothes, hairstyles, and makeup and has made music that sexualizes teenage girls and yet there is no clue as to where this statement he made came from. Stanley thinks that “participation in a lifestyle that confuses young children into questioning their sexual identification as though some sort of game and then parents in some cases allow it” as if we are not just loving our children and keeping them safe. Stanley underestimates the child experience while the AAP reports that the average age of Trans child being aware of their gender identity being “different” than their assigned sex at birth as eight and half, with most coming out around age 10.

The American Psychological Association continues to stand by their statement that “Being transgender or gender variant implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities; however, these individuals often experience discrimination due to a lack of civil rights protections for their gender identity or expression.… [Such] discrimination and lack of equal civil rights is damaging to the mental health of transgender and gender variant individuals.” This is why we need to be an ally to our Trans children! They need our advocacy and support because too many people fail to understand what they face and continue to be ignorant of science and medical advice.

The AAP continuously validates the need to affirm Transgender youth saying that Trans youth “often confront stigma and discrimination, which contribute to feelings of rejection and isolation that can adversely affect physical and emotional well-being.” There are many youths who believe that they “must hide their gender identity and expression to avoid bullying, harassment, or victimization and they disproportionately experience

high rates of homelessness, physical violence (at home and in the community), substance abuse, and high-risk sexual behaviors.” Statements such as the one made by Stanley are becoming more and more visible as anti-Trans legislation continues to cloud our rainbows to isolate our children even more. Parents who are abhorrent to using affirming pronouns for their children and even punishing them by challenging school policies that allow teachers to affirm Trans youth are the one’s leading their children into high-risk situations and pushing them away. Our children need support to explore their gender identities and they deserve to live authentically in their own homes and in places that are supposedly meant for them, such as schools.

Stanley’s statement also reads “There ARE individuals who as adults may decide reassignment is their needed choice but turning this into a game or parents normalizing it as some sort of natural alternative or believing that because a little boy likes to play dress up in his sister’s clothes or a girl in her brother’s, we should lead them steps further down a path that’s far from the innocence of what they are doing.” I will just reiterate that as parents who support their Transgender children, we are not leading them down a path far from innocence. This again implies some perversion and is misleading. It is obvious that the perverted minds are those that imagine that gender identity is combined with sexuality yet people like Stanley can make money off of sexualizing teen girls in the KISS song Christine Sixteen; but that’s okay as long as they aren’t Trans, right? Wrong! As parents, allies, Queer and Trans folk, we must stand up against statements like these and use this opportunity to properly educate those who seem to be very confused and obviously think that they’re incapable of harm.

Keep supporting your babies and extend your hugs to Trans youth who don’t have the support they need and deserve at home. There is nothing wrong with using the affirming pronouns and supporting our children’s gender expression, and if that leads to a continued desire to live in a body that matches a child’s identity then any medical decisions should be and only be between the youth, their doctors, and a supportive parent, not at the hands of right-wing conservative politicians nor perverted rockstars.

11 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15 COMMun ITY vOIC es
Gender affirMinG care “Sad and danGerouS fad”
sTanleY Of kIss slaMs ParenTs WHO suPPOrT TransGender CHIldren tHe rocker caLLS
Paul Stanley (courtesy images)

a reTurn TO CruIsInG

—Adam Martindale is a luxury cruise travel agent and specializes in Wine, Food & LGBTQ group cruises & tours. Adam has over 30 years of experience, working for 4 major cruise lines, luxury hotels and resorts as Food and Beverage Director. Adam is a board member with San Diego ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors). Adam specializes in Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises and has been recognized as a “Cruise Connoisseur” Agent for his volume of business with Oceania Cruises. Contact him at 619-879-3601 and

Traveling to Antarctica has been on my bucket list for years! I yearned to explore the 7th continent and recently was able to experience this adventure of a lifetime with Atlas Ocean Voyages.

Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia and mostly covered with a thick sheet of ice. It’s one of the most remote destinations on Earth and the trip of a lifetime for many travelers. It’s also easier to travel to Antarctica than you might think. Let me tell you how.

My journey started in San Diego with a connecting flight through Atlanta to Buenos Aires on Delta Airlines. The flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires is around 10.5 hours, making business a preferred choice but premium economy is also a nice experience on Delta. I was excited as this was my first-time visiting Argentina!

I arrived in Buenos Aires and stayed at the Sofitel (included in the pre-cruise package) with Atlas Ocean Voyages. I arrived early in the morning so was not able to check in until around 2pm but made use of the time. My local driver took me to exchange money at one of the “Casa De Cambio’s” where the exchange rate was 380 pesos to the dollar. TIP: Do not change money at home when traveling to Argentina as the rate fluctuates highly, sometimes daily.

I had a nice nap at the hotel once I was able to go to my room and achieved my goal of having an Argentinian Steak with a glass (or two) of Malbec before retiring early as our pickup to the airport was at 4:30am! (Ask me how hard it was to find a restaurant that was open before 7pm in Buenos Aires!)

4:30am arrived too fast! We were met in the lobby by the local representative with coffee, water, and a breakfast bag for our 45-minute journey to the airport to check-in for our 7am charter flight to Ushuaia.

The flight on Aerolineas Argentinas (Argentina’s national airline) was great. The crew were very friendly and served us another breakfast! We ar-

an anTarCTIC advenTure WITH aTlas O Cean vOYaGes

FREE pre-paid gratuities

FREE use of walking sticks and binoculars

FREE reusable water bottle

FREE butler service and expanded room service menu in suites

FREE private charter jet service

FREE enrichment lectures and destination briefings

FREE shore landings led by expert field guides

FREE escorted sightseeing safaris by Zodiac

FREE polar plunge

FREE Atlas Ocean Voyages parka and vest

FREE use of knee boots

FREE private group transfers between airport and yacht

The staterooms and suites on board are extremely luxuriously appointed with lots of storage. I enjoyed a Horizon Stateroom which featured a push button electric dropdown window to gaze at the extraordinary scenery. An in-room minibar is included, stocked with your preferences as well as the Nespresso machine, which was one of my favorite amenities. The room steward places bottles of filtered water in your room every day. The bathroom is beautiful, marble with a fantastic shower which has a rain head as well as spray heads aimed at the lower back and legs. Fabulous!

rived in Ushuaia (the end of the World) and were escorted to the ship by motor coach. The views that greeted us upon arrival were spectacular.

We boarded the Atlas Ocean Navigator and were greeted by the crew with champagne and canapes. Ah! We were here to explore….and be spoiled!

The ship holds only 200 guests and there are 110 crew to take care of us, which they did VERY well!

Atlas Ocean Voyages is yacht-style cruising and the perfect sized ship to visit Antarctica.

All accommodations include plush bedding, a marble spa bath and a spacious living room or sitting area. You can take in a view of the seascape from the comfort of your balcony or from your panoramic window anytime. Awaken fully refreshed and begin your day by pouring yourself a cup of Nespresso Coffee or Kusmi Tea and indulging in lavish L’OCCITANE amenities.

The ship is beautifully designed with lounges to relax in and a theater to listen to the incredible expedition team, which were the true highlight of this cruise. There were 13 of them, all of them as passionate

as each other. An incredible team!

We were escorted to the mudroom to receive our expedition parkas (which we could take home with us after the cruise) and be fitted with boots and a life vest. We got faster at donning the gear after a few days!

Atlas offers two landings each day, kayaking and paddleboarding (depending upon the weather conditions) as well as camping overnight!

We were VERY fortunate on our voyage, especially as it was the last one of the expedition season. The weather was perfect every day! Blue skies, no wind and calm seas. We were even lucky with the crossing of the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is known as either the “Drake Lake” or “Drake Shake” and we had the “Drake Lake” for our return trip and only one slightly rough day on the voyage down. I did get prescription patches for sea sickness as I heard stories about how rough this can be. I was very pleasantly surprised.

We hiked, encountered lots of penguins, sea lions, elephant seals and orcas during our amazing voyage with Atlas as well as many zodiac rides

with the expedition team. I even did the Polar plunge! It was incredible!

about atlas

Ocean Voyages

I was there to experience the product and analyze the service and experience provided. I must say that I was extremely happy with everything.

Let’s talk about the

All-Inclusiveness of Atlas Ocean Voyages:

FREE cultural immersion on every voyage

FREE dining venues with ever-changing menus

FREE unlimited beverages, including fine wines, spirits and craft beers

FREE open bars and lounges, including 24-hour bar service with specialty canapés

FREE in-room minibar with your preferences

FREE specialty coffees, teas and fresh-pressed juices

FREE afternoon and high tea

FREE champagne and gourmet canapés during meet and greet

FREE 24-hour room service, including spirits, wine and beer

FREE L’OCCITANE bath amenities

My specialty is food and wine travel, so I am always very interested in the food and beverage selection and service. I was not disappointed. From the “all you can eat” breakfast buffet, offering everything you could think of for breakfast, lunch buffet with delicious soups, different entrees and salads every day as well as a different carving station item and action item every day. Dinner was the only meal which had menu service. The food was beautifully presented and served and even better, tasted delicious. Wines were served with dinner. You could enjoy wine with lunch but were not allowed to go on the zodiacs and had to stay on board. I chose to do that one day! Room service is available for breakfast and all-day dining. There is also a coffee/ to-go food area, which offered smoothies, sandwiches, cookies and more throughout the day. There are 2 bars on board with a nice selection of wines, beers and liquors and fantastic bartenders to take care of you. There is a L’occitane Spa and gym on board with a sauna facing the amazing ice landscapes! That was a fantastic experience.

Entertainment is not the main reason you would visit Antarctica, but Atlas did provide a piano bar sing along each evening and the cruise director sang for two nights as well as a crew talent show on the last night of the cruise.

I loved the experience and said “Wow” at least 10 times a day, in awe of the scenery and vastness of the continent. I would love to talk to you about planning a vacation to Antarctica or another sailing with Atlas Ocean Voyages. e 4 issue 15 Travel
May 2023 volu M
it’S one of tHe MoSt reMote deStinationS on eartH and tHe trip of a LifetiMe
(images courtesy of Adam Martindale)

Q Puzzle


1 navratilova, for one

5 opera villain, typically

9 overhand stroke, for Mauresmo

14 Superman accessory

15 baldwin’s “the ___ corner”

16 top-notch coffee

17 Where to find a russian river, once

18 clothing designer chow

19 Like a mosquito bite

20 Start of a Greta Gill quote from “a League of their own” 23 came out on top 24 Halloween figures 27 runway walker


1 bambi’s tail, e.g.

2 S&M unit

3 nook at the cathedral of Hope

4 “all right then...”

5 bernstein’s stick

6 infamous idi

7 tickled pink

8 problem for a drag queen’s hosiery

bessie of the blues

in MeMorY of rOn sPerrY

So many people showed up at Ron Sperry’s celebration of life on April 16 at the Metropolitan Community Church following his March 10 passing from cancer at age 74.

It’s not hard to know why.

“You’re here today because you loved him,” said Senior Pastor Dan Koeshall to over 150 people.

“A beloved friend, dad, and grandpa,” said Koeshall. “Ron Sperry touched so many lives.”

For 10 years, a group from MCC met at the home of Sperry and his partner, Jim Burford, for spiritual discussions and a Bible study. It was officially called a MCC Spiritual Enrichment group and Ron became the moderator in 2008.

“As he was just entering his retirement years, we don’t know why he got sick,” said Koeshall.

Ron’s son, Daron Sperry, of Omaha, Nebraska, told

the group one of his father’s passions was serving as president of the board of the Uptown Community Service Center. It was a program providing outreach to the homeless in San Diego.

“It remained dear to his heart,” said Daron Sperry about Uptown.

Daron Sperry said his father married his mother Darlene in 1968 and they had two sisters, Trina and Tonya. In 1977, Ron met Larry, his first partner, and they lived with Daron in Las Vegas.

Ron’s love of bowling was legendary. His bowling trophies were on display at the memorial service along with his Outstanding Citizen Nicky Award in 2013.

Daron said Ron founded a Gay bowling tournament in 1983, the first of its kind in Las Vegas. He also began the first Youth Bowling League in 1991.

Ron opened a trophy shop in 1983 with Larry

until Larry’s death in 1997. He then moved to San Diego and opened RC Awards in North Park. He met Jim Burford in 1999, and Daron Sperry described Jim as “the love of his life”. They got married in 2019.

David Root said he visited Ron days before his death and took him flowers. “I’ll see you in heaven,” said Ron to him, David said. “He reassured me he knew where he was going.”

“He always put other people first,” said Rev. John Gill, who served as MCC’s interim pastor in 2007. “There was so much he did behind the scenes. It was my honor and privilege to minister alongside.”

“I loved him. He was so sweet,” said Denni Coslett. “He was so funny. I’m going to miss him.”

A video montage was shown of the passage of time with Ron. Some photographs on the screen had the caption “The years with hair” and “even more hair” to some laughter.

Al Smithson told an anecdote in which he was telling a group the long history of MCC’s founder, Rev. Troy Perry, and Sperry made a joke to Al to speed him along by saying, “enough about you.”

Another passion Ron had was gardening. Jim is now tasked with watering over 400 plants.

“Sperry stubbornness is the stuff of legends, but that stubbornness results in fierce loyalty to friends and family, devoted commitment to love and community, and the remarkable life of a man that will not soon be forgotten,” said Daron Sperry.

Ron was interred in the family plot in Las Vegas on March 20. His daughter Trina tragically passed away in 2013. After her passing, her two daughters, Aubrey and Meriya, came to live with Ron and Jim, and they became their legal guardians.

His memory will live on in the family he leaves behind--his husband Jim, his daughter Tonya and her husband Steven, son, Daron, and his wife Brooke, and his eight grandchildren.

13 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15 Puzzle/ I n Me MO rY
“empty ___”
30 Mouth-puckering 33 from c to d, to debussy 34 with “fours,” doggy-style 35 it’s a good thing 37 disney doe 38 More of the quote 41 Subj. for some aliens 42 cicero’s father 43 in-your-face 44 non-Judy garlands 46 Some e.r. cases for dr. callie torres 47 Greek sorceress 48 former justice antonin 50 noise of the lambs 51 end of the quote 58 Meat-filled treats 60 kind of stimulating 61 amigo of Lorca 62 Latish lunch hour 63 “chicago” producer Meron 64 “baseball tonight” channel 65 out 66 Swirl around three men in a tub 67 kristy Mcnichol sitcom
parts of chains, maybe 28
your pants on!”
fleeting affairs 30 dealt with
“oz” 32 internet surfers 36 the “t” in t.e. Lawrence 39 peace nobelist anwar 40 She played the principal in “Grease” 45 one-masters 49 “c’est Moi,” to king arthur 50 Melville’s budd 52 cutting edge creator 53 put out 54 delivered a mouthful, perhaps 55 Make less difficult to bear 56 von trapp family escape route 57 navel fetish accessory? 58 Lover that you can’t get over 59 “the Guardians” writer castillo
10 “rainbows reign!” and more 11 dressed to impress 12 theater admonition 13 Harry of the Mattachine Society 21 dress to the nines
plumed wader 25 poe poem
Greek city of tough guys 27
31 actor Milo of
page 19 aLoTo
Jim Burford (top) and Ron Sperry (below) (courtesy image)

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.

Our nation was established by the political leaders of the time on the principles of “liberty and justice for all”, a statement that nowadays seems undoubtedly mute. Musical Theatre, as a branch of the performing arts, has always been a reflection of current affairs and social relevance. 1776 is a wellknown musical with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and book by Peter Stone. The show depicts several historical occurrences and events that culminate in the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Historical figures like John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, to name a few, are weaved in the story as the American leaders of the time.

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1969, winning three Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Performance of an Actor in a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical. It was revived in 1997, and most recently in 2022 with a twist, the entire cast was assembled by performers who identify as female, Non-Binary, and Trans. This aspect makes this production an important piece that should not be missed.

We chatted with one of the actors in the current national tour, Brooke Simpson (she/her) a full blooded Indigenous Native American of the HaliwaSaponi Tribe who has had an extensive career as a vocalist. Some of her accomplishments include being a finalist on both The Voice and America’s Got Talent, as well as having the opportunity to perform with Miley Cyrus and Sia. After being part of the Broadway company, she is now on the road with the national tour.

Simpson remembers walking into the rehearsal room in New York for the cast’s first meeting and being greeted by the show creatives with all of their pictures next to designs and costume pieces personalized to each actor. Part of what she found exciting about this project was the opportunity to learn about American History through this powerful piece. Another thrilling aspect of the rehearsal and performance process of the show for her is not only to get to be on stage with her talented peers, but also being more involved with the group whenever she has to go on for one of her understudy characters, in her case Abigail

1776 arrIves In san dIe GO

San Diego by Broadway San Diego, with performances Tuesday through Sunday from May 9, 2023, through May 14, 2023.

Adams and Rev. John Witherspoon. “My favorite song is definitely “Mama Look Sharp”. It’s a moment in the show that reminds you what’s at stake and the weight of the decisions these men are making.”, stated Simpson, who also mentioned that the audience can expect to laugh, learn a lot, sit in truth’s discomfort, and be deeply moved by the show. “I’m really proud of what we’ve created and have worked so hard on.”, she added.

1776 is traditionally cast with cis white men, so this production gives Females, Trans, Non-Binary, and BIPOC voices, historically not invited to be part of the conversation, the opportunity to step into the shoes of these figures and tell the story of our nation through powerful vocals and spectacular musical arrangements. “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT HUNNY, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A SHOW I NEED TO SEE!”,

expressed Simpson.

When asked about her proudest moments of her career, she pinpointed two, filming a Nike commercial on Haliwa-Saponi tribal grounds, and the first time she put on a piece of Haliwa-Saponi tribal jewelry on a Broadway stage, making her feel like “I’ve made my tribe and my people proud.”, she mentioned.

The National Tour of 1776 is brought to the historic Civic Center Theater in Downtown

As a message to the San Diego LGBTQ+ Community, Simpson added, “COME SEE OUR SHOW! There’s so many of us Queer folks in the cast that love seeing Queer joy all throughout our audiences and getting to talk to you after the show :) You’re gonna laugh, cry, have so much fun and feel the representation and love all on that stage!” Follow her on all social media platforms for more details on her music projects and career on @ brookesimpsonofficial

1776 is presented by Broadway San Diego with performances May 9th through May 14th at the Civic Center in Downtown San Diego. Tickets and info: upcoming-events/1776/ e 4 issue 15 THeaT er
May 2023 volu M
“Momma, Look Sharp” - (Left) Tiffani Barbour as ‘Andrew McNair’ and (center) Brooke Simpson as ‘The Courier’ and the National Tour Cast of 1776. Photos by Joan Marcus
aLL feMaLe, tranS, non-binarY, and bipoc to rattLe tHe ciS-teM
“My favorite song is definitely “Mama l ook sharp”. It’s a moment in the show that reminds you what’s at stake and the weight of the decisions these men are making.”


San Diego Premiere!

Songs by The go-go’s

Based Upon the Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney

Conceived and original book by Jeff Whitty

adapted by James Magruder

Directed by Matt M. Morrow

Diversionary Theatre

May 25, 2023- June 18, 2023

From the creative team of Broadway’s Avenue Q, comes a musical fairytale where the Land of Arcadia is challenged by an Oracle and their prophecies of doom, as they journey through the forest to save their kingdom, while learning crucial lessons about diversity, family, relationships, self-discovery, and love. The jukebox musical features music from the iconic 80’s all-girl band The Go-Go’s.


Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics by Tim Rice

Directed by Steven Glaudini

Choreography by Jimmy Locust, Music Director & Conductor: Lyndon Pugeda

Moonlight Stage Productions

May 10, 2023 - May 27, 2023 jesus-christ-superstar

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical Jesus Christ Superstar features the story of Jesus’ final weeks, in a musical extravaganza filled with 70’s gospel rock vibes and powerful an iconic rock opera that reinvented musical theater for the modern age. This global phenomenon has been produced all over the globe and will surely bring a high energy spectacle to the Moonlight Stage.


Directed by Sandy Campbell

Oceanside Theatre Company

May 12, 2023 - May 28, 2023 2023-season/good-people/

Good People follows Margie Walsh, a lovely woman from a poor neighborhood going through some rough times. After being fired from another job, facing eviction from her landlord, she reaches out to an old friend who made it out of the neighborhood successfully, and together they navigate their life paths. This play by David Lindsay-Abaire, is an emotional drama giving audiences a powerful glance into the dilemma of doing the right thing.


Book by Douglas Carter Beane

Music and Lyrics by Jeff Lynne & John Farrar

Directed by Jason Blitman

Choreography by Allison Bibicoff

San Diego Musical Theatre

May 5, 2023- June 4, 2023

Campy musical Xanadu, based on the 80’s film starring Olivia Newton-John, skates to the San Diego Musical Theatre stage, promising laughs, energetic dances, and impressive vocals from the versatile company. And yes, there is plenty of roller skating to delight audiences of all ages.

15 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15 O n sTaGe JUNE 3 & 4 Kick off Pride season with us! Enjoy a weekend of Pool Parties, Drag Shows, Brunch, Babette’s Bad Bingo, and Ross Mathews: I Gotchu, Gurl! comedy show. *Credit will be applied to the final bill at checkout. Excludes alcohol, tax, and gratuity. Two-night stay minimum. Not applicable for bookings of 10 rooms or more. Subject to availability. Must be 21+. Two-Night Hotel Stay starting at $278* Plus, a $100 Resort Credit! Scan the QR code for complete details or to book your stay. *Plus sales tax and resort fee. Mariam T. WEEKEND HOSTESS Kickxy Vixen-Styles WEEKEND HOSTESS Babette Schwartz BINGO HOSTESS Ross Mathews STAND-UP COMEDY SHOW

hat do you get when you mix twenty-three prominent ballet dancers, seven spectacular jazz musicians, and the gorgeous Balboa Theatre in Downtown?... A swinging good time! Eight to the Barre is a concert of world premiere dances, Jazz/Swing musical pieces, and performance fusion that will surely delight San Diego audiences. The clever name of the presentation comes from eight beats to a musical measure, and barre, referring to the form of physical movement greatly derived from the artform of Ballet.

San Diego favorite, Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra, will be headlining the musical aspect of the evenings. The “Queen of Boogie Woogie”, as she is known around town, partners with San Diego Ballet Artistic Director, Javier Velasco, to bring a unique experience to audiences of all ages.

“Preparing for Eight to the Barre has been probably the most unusual engagement I’ve ever had. I am totally used to playing for Swing dancers and know the genre, but it is a different story to be in a Ballet on stage situation. Back in January, my band recorded a number of tunes, and I ran them by Javier Velasco, the artistic director of the ballet. He liked all the selections - he is a dream to work with. Now we are all in the midst of fine tuning the show details,” explained Palmer, who considers witnessing dancers interpret her songs as her favorite part

of the process.

Audiences experiencing Sue Palmer’s performance and energy for the first time, will surely be mesmerized, and regular fans will be delighted to enjoy their unique style, but this time intertwined with joyous forms of classical dance.

When asked about any challenges in her career as an openly Gay artist, Palmer

stated, “I have to say I was lucky enough to come out as a lesbian, at a time (1972), when, at least in my circles, it was relatively easy, compared to many people. The best musician in my family was my sax playing Auntie Arleen and her partner, vocalist Sally Davis. They were “characters”, mostly because of the musician part, but also gay. They

were fun. Also, my brother Glenn Palmer, was Gay and a ballet dancer. He died in the AIDS epidemic in 1988. So, even though my parents didn’t really approve of me being Gay, they were kind of used to it. Music was a much more healing part of our lives. Also, the women’s community and the Gay community were very instrumental in providing me with a safe space to perform and practice my craft, when I was starting out. So, for me, it was almost an advantage to be Gay. I had more trouble with misogyny than homophobia,” she expressed, while thanking the San Diego LGBTQ+ community for the constant support of her career. “We have one of the very best Gay communities in the world. Artistically and politically, we are a force in the world. THANK YOU for cherishing me,” she added.

The two-part program is a testament of the San Diego Ballet’s commitment to create vibrant and groundbreaking work that will move audiences, both classical dance and Latin/ Jazz music lovers. Velasco has worked with prominent San Diego artists including commissioned works by composers Charles McPherson and Gilbert Castellanos, as well as works by Kamau Kenyatta and Blues singer, Candye Kane. The tribute to some of Music’s greatest, such as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman, is arranged in Opus…Swing! as a classi-

cal concerto. “Opus…Swing! was one of our first non-story ballets, and it was our first melding of Jazz and Ballet. It helped build and define the style of the Company and many elements of the original work still echo in the work we do today,” explained Velasco.

“This program gets at the heart of what makes San Diego Ballet special and a true hometown Company. We are coming full circle with the restaging of Opus…Swing! and my creative collaboration with long-time friend Sue Palmer and I know the program will have meaning as well as enjoyment,” added Velasco.

Eight to the Barre is presented by San Diego Ballet with two performances May 20th and May 21st at the Balboa Theater in Downtown San Diego.


May 20, 8pm - ticket link: event/0A005D2A8B2C1532

May 21, 2:30pm - ticket link: event/0A005D2A8B5E1545

Additional info: https://sandiegoballet. org/shows/jazz-and-dance/

Sue Palmer’s website:

16 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15 en T erTaInM en T
sWI nG TO eIGHT TO THe barre for a JoLLY Good tiMe
“We have one of the very best Gay communities in the world. artistically and politically, we are a force in the world. THank YOu for cherishing me”
San Diego Ballet Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra (courtesy images)

artiSt profiLe: TIM nOvara

Novara moved to San Diego where he came out, met his husband Gil and married in 2015. In order to pursue a Masters in Higher Education Administration, he moved to Nashville for two years. Returning to San Diego, he currently works at the University of San Diego as the Associate Dean of Research and Assessment.

“My day job is the flip side to my engagement in the art world. I like having the balance,” said Novara. “I’m fortunate to have a full-time job so I don’t need to rely on my art for a living. It allows me the freedom to focus on the creative process, instead of the look that the final artwork will become. I primarily create for myself.”

The next time you are walking through Hillcrest, pause and take a look at the constructed world around you. There are so many things along the way that we walk by without paying attention to them. One Hillcrest artist is revealing the neighborhood through a colorful body of work that will stop you in your tracks and allow you to see your surroundings a little bit differently.

Born in Germany in 1980 and raised outside Chicago, artist Tim Novara was the boy who played with Legos and construction kits. He grew up in a large Catholic family with what he describes as a typical Midwest upbringing.

Architecture seemed to be his calling, but he also found inspiration being surrounded by the art of his grandmother. He grew up admiring her paintings and drawings hanging throughout her home while listening to stories of how she wasn’t allowed to pursue a career as an artist.

After high school, Novara moved to upstate New York to get his Bachelors in Architecture at Syracuse University. The instructors allowed students to use whatever methods they chose to submit their designs. Unlike many of his technologically minded contemporaries, he submitted all his work done by hand. He enjoyed working on his projects in ink, mylar, pencil and watercolors. This became known as his visual signature throughout his coursework.

Though his love of Architecture never waned, he was disillusioned by the reality of the industry. The limits of building costs and what labor can actually construct dampened his creative spirit.

Novara enjoys revealing the spaces that we typically ignore or take for granted in our day to day lives. His mixed media work is specifically placed-based. Initially, he explores local buildings and physical spaces through photography. In the studio, he strips the photos of color. Composition becomes the most important element as he plays with the geometric spaces and physical lines. Color is later re-applied in a diagrammatic way used to identify different spaces, which he understands comes directly from his Architecture background.

“I spend a lot of time stepping back and looking at my work to make adjustments until it intuitively feels right. The process is a journey within itself.”

Novara enjoys talking to potential patrons. He finds it exciting to see them approach the paintings as a puzzle finding a familiarity in the fragments and mirroring that appears on the canvas.

“I want people to stop and try to figure out what’s going on and look at the details. I hope it makes them more aware of their surrounding environment. Our constructed world makes a big impact on us, and we don’t always know it.”

In 2019, Novara decided to incorporate his art into his life in a serious way. For a time, he had a studio downtown. He was just beginning to hit his stride as the pandemic hit.

When The Center had to cancel their annual gala due to COVID, he decided to make an effort to sell his work online to generate funds that could be donated to the non-profit. He began to have virtual conversations on social media with people about his art and the importance of the work being done in our communities. Giving to local charities has become a central tenet of his sales. He enjoys in helping in a small way to support and talking with people about the organizations.

L’atelier in Mission Hills recognized the unique quality of Novara’s work and held two solo shows presenting his work in 2021. Locally, his work has also been shown at Visual in North Park and The Studio Door in Hillcrest. These opportunities encouraged him to apply to exhibitions outside of San Diego and he soon found his work being seen and sold in Orange County, Santa Ana and more recently, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Looking to the future, Novara dreams of owning a gallery to explore the business side of the art world and support other artists by amplifying their voices. For the immediate future, Novara continues to explore his immediate neighborhood.

Tom Novara can be found online at and on Instagram at @timnovara.

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

17 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15
Three Martinis And A Cosmo Tim Novara (courtesy image)
en T erTaInM en T
“I’m fortunate to have a full-time job so I don’t need to rely on my art for a living. It allows me the freedom to focus on the creative process, instead of the look that the final artwork will become. I primarily create for myself.”
Looking At
Desert Sun Who
Are You

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.

Hello, Assembly District 78!

I’m your representative Chris Ward and I want to bring you up to date on the latest from our district.

While bills are still making their way through the Legislature, I thought it would be a good time to outline the state budget process and walk you through how California’s budget gets passed each year. Deciding on the state budget is no small task, and there are several steps along the way allowing Californians to stay engaged and weigh in before funds head to their final destination.


For the first step, the Governor takes the lead. The California Constitution requires the Governor to submit a proposal for a balanced budget to the Legislature each year by January 10th. That means if the Governor’s budget exceeds the estimated state revenue generated, the Governor is required to identify sources for additional

funding to ensure the proposed budget is balanced. This proposal must also be accompanied by a budget bill with itemized expenditures for each house to review.

From January to mid-May, full budget committees along with subcommittees in the state Assembly and Senate review the Governor’s proposed budget and begin to craft their versions of the annual spending plan. The Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee also assign items in the Governor’s proposal to several subcommittees based on their issue areas. For example, education spending items would go to the Education Committee to conduct hearings on. These hearings generally begin in late February and include testimony from the Governor’s staff.

Additional feedback is provided by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Department of Finance,

which make recommendations for changes by April 1st. All of this feedback is taken into account by the Governor’s office, which released a revised budget proposal by May 14th. This updated proposal is called the May Revise, and it give lawmakers a clearer picture of the Governor’s budget proposal. It’s also a chance for the public to weigh in during legislative hearings on the budget.

Throughout this process, the Legislature can maintain, change or reject the Governor’s proposals. In early June, legislative leaders in both houses meet with the Governor’s office to discuss outstanding issues and formulate a final budget. Per the California Constitution, the Legislature must pass a budget bill by June 15. Once the budget is passed, the Governor then signs the budget packaged can issue line item vetoes on particular spending items. The Legislature can override those vetoes with a

two-thirds vote in both the State Assembly and Senate. In July, lawmakers can pass amendments and other changes to the adopted budget package, including into the next calendar year.

In fall, we begin identifying our budget priorities for the next fiscal year, while state departments and agencies develop their budget proposals to submit to the Department of Finance for analysis –– starting the budget process all over again.

I hope you find this explainer helpful in understanding how California puts together its budget. It’s a complicated process with many people involved, but it’s necessary to ensure that your tax dollars are being spent in the most equitable and responsible way possible.


Since the last newsletter update, I introduced one of my biggest bills this year to help spur housing development and

simultaneously address the climate crisis. AB 68, The Housing and Climate Solutions Act, will make it faster and easier to build more homes near jobs, schools, transit, and other amenities, while adding provisions to state law that will help protect Californians from increasingly frequent and severe wildfires and floods. Current land use policies have left unchecked sprawl that puts more Californians in harm’s way in areas with frequent and severe wildfires and floods. Pushing development into remote areas also increases climate pollution and strains infrastructure. Our housing and climate crises are intertwined, and our solutions must be too. AB 68 comes from an unprecedented and historic union of housing and environmental advocates from California YIMBY and The Nature Conservancy, who have both partnered to sponsor my bill. The Housing and Climate Solutions Act would require local governments to prioritize new housing within existing communities before allowing sprawl into critical natural and working lands that are vital resources for climate resilience. We’re expecting the bill to be heard before its first committee some time this month.

I also wanted to note that last month several of my bills moved forward in their respective committees, with some being passed with unanimous and bipartisan support. AB 223, the Transgender Youth Privacy Act, was passed in the Assembly Judiciary Committee and now heads to the Assembly Floor. AB 30 to expand the atmospheric river research program in California passed out of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on a bipartisan vote. And AB 251 to study the relationship between vehicle size and fatalities passed out of the Transportation Committee.


As part of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, I have nominated Sandy Scheller as Assembly District 78’s Holocaust Remembrance Honoree. I recently sat down with Sandy to with her about her work keeping the memory of her mother Ruth Sax, and other holocaust survivors, alive though the curated exhibit “RUTH: Remember Us The Holocaust” and opening a new museum in San Diego County to educate and honor the memory of Holocaust survivors like her mother.

You can find the full video of my interview with Sandra Scheller on my YouTube channel.

As always, I want to thank you for your support. I’m grateful to be your representative and work on these issues and more. One of the best ways to stay informed is to follow my social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where you can know in real time what developments are happening or what I’m working on every day.

And if you need assistance, 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 to my district office and a staff member will connect with you as soon as possible. I wish you, your family and your neighbors all the best.

18 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15 PublIC s erv IC e
sTaTe bud GeT, le GIslaTIve uPdaTe, & HoLocauSt reMeMbrance daY
Chris Ward (courtesy image)

gay man with a history of domestic violence has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the beating death of his boyfriend in 2021 in a motel room.

Ryan Edward Breeland, 43, is expected to receive 30 years to life in state prison for killing Kenneth Banks, 32, who was found dead in a motel in downtown San Diego on June 9, 2021.

Sadly, Breeland himself predicted to the victim this was going to happen. And the victim didn’t take his warning seriously, according to testimony from Breeland’s preliminary hearing in November of 2022.

In a recorded phone call from jail after Breeland was arrested for hurting Banks, Breeland told Banks “the only way out is the graveyard.”

Banks had just told him that he wanted to end their relationship. But Breeland replied, “No, that’s not what will happen,” and then predicted Banks will die from his hand, according to testimony from a detective at Breeland’s preliminary hearing.

The tapes of the conversations were played in court. Banks never responded to Breeland’s chilling words as if he believed them. He ended each conversation with Breeland with saying “I love you.”

Banks probably did love Breeland, but he didn’t know how to stay away from him. The couple lived in a variety of motels, and several of them barred them from returning because of their loud arguments and complaints

GaY Man Pleads GuIlTY Of 2nd-deGree Murder in kiLLinG of boYfriend

from other tenants, according to testimony.

Breeland also pleaded guilty to inflicting corporal injury to Banks with a knife, which was a prior domestic assault and to committing a prior sex crime with a minor in South Carolina.

Deputy District Attorney Taren Brast said Breeland would face 15 years to life for the murder plus 15 years for the other crimes to total 30 years to life.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Rachel Cano set sentencing for May 17. Breeland remains in jail without bail.

A motel worker found Banks’ body in bed, covered with a sheet, and she ran from the room, thinking she might throw up. Dorothy

Sanchez testified she thought Banks was asleep and was trying to wake him up only to find his body was “completely stiff with a bruised face.”

A detective testified Banks told her Breeland hit him with a chair, punched, and stabbed him during an argument.

The cause of death was blunt force head trauma, according to a deputy medical examiner, who showed the upper body on a large screen in court. Breeland looked up just once to view his partner’s injuries on the screen and looked down for the rest of the hearing.

It is possible Breeland has regrets. The proposed sentence gives him a lot of time to think about that.

san dIe GO HaTe CrIMe susPe CT

arreSted in poLand for anne frank HouSe Hate criMe

aman who slugged his Gay neighbor in Chula Vista and jumped bail here was arrested last week in Europe after doing anti-Semitic protests outside the historical Anne Frank house.

Robert Frank Wilson, 41, still has a $50,000 warrant outstanding for his arrest when he failed to show up for trial in Chula Vista Superior Court on a felony charge of committing a hate crime due to sexual orientation.

Wilson’s whereabouts were unknown until it was learned of his involvement in a protest of a laser projection onto the facade of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.

Several dozen news outlets, including KFMB-TV Channel 8 and, reported Wilson’s involvement and arrest last week. He was also shown protesting outside the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, holding anti-Semitic signs outside the entrance.

It is a crime in 16 European countries to deny that the Holocaust occurred - i.e., that 6 million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s that led to World War II.

Wilson projected a statement onto the Anne Frank House that said “Anne Frank, inventor of the ballpoint pen” via a laser. This is a debunked theory that some have suggested that the young Jewish girl could not have written her diary because some of it was written in ink.

“After the projection, the Amsterdam detective department started an investigation in which the suspect soon came into their sights,” according to a police statement.

Wilson fled to Poland “immediately after the laser-projection,” according to police. Amsterdam detectives traveled to Poland on April 24th to join Polish police to search Wilson’s home and participate in the arrest.

“We thank the police for finding and arresting the suspect, and justice will take its course,” said Ronald Leopold, director of the Anne Frank Foundation.

“Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most important testimonies to the persecution of the Jews during World War II,” said Leopold. “The projection is an attack on the veracity of the diary and a hate crime.”

No decision has yet been made as to whether Wilson will be extradited to the Netherlands for the Anne Frank incident. Wilson never showed up for trial in the hate crime case here, which is why he has the outstanding warrant.

Wilson was also charged with a misdemeanor count of displaying a large anti-Semitic poster on the fence of an Interstate 805 overpass on Dec. 21, 2021. However, that charge was dismissed by a judge after info about it was presented in court.

19 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15
Puzzle s O lu TIO n aLoTo FroM paGE 13 CO urT neWs a
Ryan Edward Breeland (courtesy image) Robert Frank Wilson (left) outside the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland (courtesy image)
20 May 2023 volu M e 4 issue 15