I’m proud of my Latino and gay communitiesConversations with Nicole Thursday, October 6th, 2011
Commentary: Conversations with Nicole
Well, my doctor has grounded me from flying for a week and, to tell you the truth, I’m kinda happy about it. So, I’ll finally have a weekend in San Diego after all these months. Hooray!
Marching in Spokane
In the last month there have been nine gay suicides in the state of Washington. Also, there has been a rise in hate crimes and attacks on GLBT people. I joined a peaceful march and vigil in downtown Spokane as we made a stand against hate. I had the honor of being asked to walk behind the lead banner and got to know one of the young victims, Michael Jobson, who was attacked outside a gay bar. The eastern part of Washington is very conservative, and is well-known as the headquarters of neo-Nazis and many other hate groups. (People of color count less than five percent of the population.) In my travels to Montana, Nebraska and Kentucky let me tell you that I have realized it’s much easier to be openly GLBT in California than in those states. I continue to be amazed and, yes, proud of our brothers and sisters living in these “red” states and regions.
Honoring the Kilodavis family and Major Margaret Witt
The real honor for me in Spokane was presenting the civil rights awards to the Kilodavis family (the authors of My Princess Boy and recent honorees at the Harvey Milk Breakfast) and Major Margaret Witt. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know this loving and courageous family who has received worldwide media coverage about their campaign for tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love for all children and youth. Air Force Major Margaret Witt showed up in her full dress uniform to accept the award I presented her, and as one of the early leaders in the efforts to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell her speech was inspiring. Spokane is a most beautiful city and the world famous Davenport Hotel (founded in 1914) is one of the most elegant and regal hotels in America. A big thank you to Washington businessman and fundraiser, Rob Surreal who hosted me during my four-day stay. Do check out myprincessboy.com for more information.
A gay Marine goes to Afghanistan
My friend, a proud gay Marine, named Avarice left this past Monday afternoon for the war region of Afghanistan. He had just celebrated his 20th birthday and will not be back in San Diego for 11 months. He leaves his partner, Cory, who is a young Navy veteran. Both of these young men are like “grandsons” to me and members of the Imperial Court de San Diego. I gave Avarice a rosary and ask you all to keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.
By the way, this young gay Marine will be driving armored vehicles, patrolling the streets of this war-torn nation.
Proud to be Latino
This is the 25th anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Month being celebrated in the USA. There are now more than 50 million Latinos in our nation, and growing. My grandparents were both born in Mexico and I was raised in a very traditional Latino Catholic family, which was very patriotic and involved in their community. My father, who passed away some years ago, was not very happy that I was gay and did not like me using our last name of Ramirez. I have a gay brother and my mom accepts the both of us, though it has been a struggle for her. I love my Mexican heritage and one of the highlights of my life was meeting and getting to know Latin icon, Cesar Chavez. I got him to march and speak at one of the national gay Marches on Washington, and got to introduce him at the rally. Cesar Chavez said it was the biggest crowd he ever spoke to in his life, as this march drew almost a million gay people to our nation’s capitol. Indeed, I have been blessed to have been a witness since the 1960s and 1970s to the growth and empowerment of both my Latino and GLBT communities who I love so very much.
Thank you John, Dale, Chaz and Martinis for seven great years
For seven years our community, indeed San Diego, was blessed to have three outstanding, compassionate and wonderful businessmen named Chaz Weathers, Dale Dubach and John Osgood, of the super-popular Martinis Above Fourth, who became people our community, social service organizations and charities could always count on. Their annual Christmas Wreath auction raised more than $127,000 for the Queen Eddie Youth Fund, which provides school supplies, clothing, food and more to GLBT youth, 5-20. The children they have helped are countless. We dedicated a room at the downtown Youth Housing Complex in their honor, and rightfully so. For the last years the Martini AIDS Walk team has been one of the most successful, and this year alone they raised more than $31,000 as once again they were the number one team. Our community has always been able to count on them for donations and support, and they could just never say “No” to those in need. Martinis Above Fourth, under these gentlemen became one of our city’s most popular restaurants and, let me tell you, with some of the best food and cocktails. They won more awards than could fill their trophy case, all for the food, beverage and customer service excellence. The boys, sadly, will not be opening another gay business, but will continue with their other successful businesses. The new owners of Martinis are, I hear, gay and have a solid reputation, and Chaz, Dale and John have given them the “thumbs up,” so that’s good enough for me. Martinis Facebook has almost crashed with the outpouring of love and gratitude from our community. It has brought tears to their eyes, but why should it surprise them? They were more than businessmen and a restaurant; they were “family” who made everyone feel special and welcome. For so many of us it’s like we have lost a relative who is moving. We love you Dale, Chaz and John. God bless you always. We will be dedicating a plaque in their honor at our Center, though they deserve much more.
Fifi’s Clamfest this Sunday
Super diva and former empress de San Diego, yes, the one and only Fifi will, once again, be hosting her annual Clamfest 2011 at Lips, this coming Sunday, Oct. 9. This always fun and outrageous show raises thousands of dollars for the Autism Society of America. This is always a sell-out event so make your reservations now. Your co-host will be Big Mike and a cast of superstars. For info: 619-295-7900.
Nicole Murray Ramirez has been an award-winning columnist since 1973, and a Latino and gay activist for well over 40 years. He is currently a city commissioner and has served the last five mayors of San Diego. He is also a national board member of the Harvey Milk Foundation and chairman of the International Court Council of the USA, Canada and Mexico. Nicolemrsd@aol.com.
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