Mahalo nui loa, Hawaii, mahalo nui loaConversations with Nicole Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Commentary: Conversations with Nicole
This Saturday, I will once again be your outrageous emcee at our community’s annual Halloween block party, Nightmare on Normal Street. I hope you will join the thousands of people who always show up to one of Hillcrest’s biggest events.
Seven days in Hawaii
While I have been to Hawaii before, this time it was really special. The six hour flight seemed to go by fast, and I was greeted at the airport by my hosts with some very beautiful leis. Thank you to top lei master artist and author Bill Char. My hosts whisked me to the Queen Kapolani Hotel (how appropriate) and settled me in to my penthouse floor suite, where some more beautiful flowers and authentic food awaited me. I was in Honolulu for the 30th anniversary of the Imperial Court of Hawaii, which is one of this state’s oldest gay organizations. I was also attending the first annual Safety-Net for LGBT Youth State Conference at the Japanese Cultural Center. This conference attracts more than 200 educators from throughout Hawaii. I met Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and attorney Kim Coco, the first transgender elected official (state Board of Education) and many other GLBT leaders. Did you know that Hawaii has the highest rate of youth who consider attempting suicide in the nation? This conference is as important and needed as the annual CesCal Educators Conference held in San Diego. My host at this conference was Kaleo Ramos of the Catholic Charities of Hawaii. Russell Roybal (deputy director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) was also in town and took me out to an awesome dinner at the world renowned Moana Surfrider Resort, where we ate an unbelievable dinner right by the ocean waves. I also got a VIP tour of the historic Iolani Palace, where I learned more about one of the darker pages of our nation, as in reality the USA did overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy and stole this land, headed by white businessmen like the heads of the Dole corporation. The culture and heritage of the Hawaiian people is one to be respected and admired. While I was busy with my usual meetings and speeches I did take time to “smell the flowers” as it were. This state is indeed paradise, and so very beautiful. I even checked out some gay nightclubs including the infamous Hula’s (thank you to Manager Brian Navarrete). I met with, and had an interesting conversation with Donald Bentz, the state executive director of Equality Hawaii. So many people took me out to eat that I know I gained at least 15 more pounds. A special thank you to San Diego businessman Robi Cox, who took me out to dinner at Ruth’s Chris. It was really very touching and humbling to be presented with many gifts and awards, especially the Hawaiian Cultural Award: Palapala Ano Lani. This is one of the most beautiful honors I’ve ever received in more than 45 years of gay activism. I was also presented a stately “Christian Crown” silver sword and a big golden Buddha statue. Thank you Hawaii. Mahalo.
A conversation with Roland Palencia
The recent resignation of Equality California’s executive director, Roland Palencia after only about 4½ months into his administration has shocked many of our state’s GLBT activists and leaders. Palencia was EQCA’s first person of color to hold this position, and has a stellar reputation as an effective and respected administrator. EQCA has an annual budget of millions of dollars but, like other organizations, due to the bad economy it has had to cut its staff. I talked to Roland Palencia a few days after his resignation, (I am a past state chair of Equality California) and he was in good spirits and said he was planning to take a well-earned break, as he has been involved with community organizations for decades. Palencia was already making great positive steps, building bridges between the GLBT and Latino communities and I feel his departure from EQCA is a major loss. I also believe, along with other GLBT activists, that we should stop seeking a 2012 ballot initiative to repeal Prop. 8. I feel EQCA’s priority should be protecting our GLBT youth from bullying and focusing on the Board of Education and legislation. The good news is that Branton Tate-McWilliams will continue to be on EQCA’s staff in San Diego. We must continue to support EQCA more than ever, and I wish Roland Palencia the very best, and thank him for his outstanding service.
Keep your eyes on Martini’s
Last week, I met the new owners of Martini’s Above Fourth (3940 Fourth Ave.) and they have some very exciting plans to make this popular spot even better. A new stage is coming, and some great entertainers are already being booked. They will, once again, hold Martini’s super popular Xmas Wreath Auction that benefits the Queen Eddie Youth Fund. I know we all wish them the very best.
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