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Little Ryland shines in an emotional Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is the legacy of Harvey Milk; that’s about love and family and hope and change …” so said Robert Gleason at the conclusion of the presentation of the Inspiration Award to the Whittington family at today’s emotionally charged Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast at the Bayfront Hilton.

There was hardly a dry eye in the 1,000 strong audience as Jeff and Hillary Whittington presented a video of the background and transition of their son Ryland.

“One of the most inspiring things that Harvey Milk had done as far as our family is concerned,” said Jeff Whittington, “was to encourage people to come out; to let their voices be heard; break down the walls, break down the barriers and start allowing people to see them for their authentic selves and be true to themselves, and this is our coming out … this is us making our voices heard …”

The sixth annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast  which coincided with the unveiling at the White House of the postage stamp honoring Harvey Milk began with the presentation of the Colors by the San Diego Naval Base Color Guard followed by the national anthem performed by members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus.

The Rev. Henry Rodriguez gave the invocation and in an interesting and enlightening turn the Old Globe performed six poems constructed from the words of Harvey Milk.

Robert Gleason, chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and co-chair of the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast Planning Committee, together with Dr. Delores Jacobs, CEO of The Center gave the welcome and introductions. Gleason made apologies for one particular absentee – his co-chair on the planning committee – Nicole Murray Ramirez, as he was in Washington, D.C. at the Harvey Milk postage stamp unveiling.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a spirited speech and in praising Murray Ramirez couldn’t resist the playful comment, “… I think President Obama has no idea what he’s in for today … think of the visual, people … Nicole running around the White House…”

Toni Atkins Photo: Big Mike

City Council President Todd Gloria introduced Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins as the recipient of the Harvey Milk Equality Award. Atkins’ speech, punctuated by repeated applause kept the audience riveted. In accepting the award Atkins said, “I am really honored … but I have to say, and I think you know this …this award is not mine alone. As we heard people speak this morning we talk about what it is … it is testament to all of you who have worked tirelessly to bring us to this point in history and to all the pioneers on whose shoulders we have stood; people like Harvey Milk, whose enduring contribution to the LGBT community and the pursuit of freedom in our nation will be recognized today with the issue of the Harvey Milk stamp.”

The Harvey Milk/ Nicole Murray Ramirez GLBT Student Scholarships were awarded by Mario Ortega of The Imperial Court de San Diego to Gilberto Mercado and Amber Jameli Meza Escobar.

Richard Barrera, secretary-treasurer/CEO, San Diego and Imperial County Labor Council presented the Harvey Milk Youth Essay Award to Citlalli Aquino who read her essay to an enthusiastic crowd.

The final presentation to the Whittington family was made by Mattheus Stephens, president, San Diego Civil Service Commission.

Rev. Dan Koeshall gave a “fabulous” benediction and the event closed out appropriately with John Lennon’s “Imagine” sung by the San Diego’s Women’s Chorus.

A truly breathtaking morning that left this appreciative and diverse audience motivated and inspired and looking forward to next year’s event.

Happy Birthday Harvey.



Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=47942

Posted by Associate Editor on May 22, 2014. Filed under Around the City, Online Only, Top Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

15 Comments for “Little Ryland shines in an emotional Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast”

  1. Has the Ryland Whittington video been posted online somewhere? It was excellent.

  2. [...] parents added.The video was played before the couple accepted the event’s Inspiration Award, reports LGBT Weekly.A short-haired Ryland, dressed in a smart suit, also took to the stage to say: “My name is [...]

  3. [...] The video was played before the couple accepted the event’s Inspiration Award, reports LGBT Weekly. [...]

  4. [...] out … this is us making our voices heard,” Jeff Whittington said in accepting the award, according to LGBT Weekly. try{TBZ.blzDFPAds.registerAdPos("ad-300×250-instory-1","In-Content_300x250_102");}catch(e){ [...]

  5. [...] “One of the most inspiring things that Harvey Milk had done as far as our family is concerned was to encourage people to come out; to let their voices be heard; break down the walls, break down the barriers and start allowing people to see them for their authentic selves and be true to themselves, and this is our coming out … this is us making our voices heard,” Jeff Whittington said in accepting the award, according to LGBT Weekly. [...]

  6. [...] “One of the most inspiring things that Harvey Milk had done as far as our family is concerned was to encourage people to come out; to let their voices be heard; break down the walls, break down the barriers and start allowing people to see them for their authentic selves and be true to themselves, and this is our coming out … this is us making our voices heard,” Jeff Whittington said in accepting the award, according to LGBT Weekly. [...]

  7. [...] family shared the story of their transgender son in a video at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast last week, where they accepted this year’s Inspiration Award, San Diego LGBT Weekly [...]

  8. I admire their unwavering love and acceptance of Ryland. I would hope that all parents would have the courage to do the same.
    My questions are based on the practical: how does/will Ryland & family approach school and how is the school system poised to react? (kids are very fast to point out differences, and they will likely note very quickly that he doesn’t use the urinal, for example) As the child grows through puberty, there are more obvious physiological changes. Has the family already set in motion with physicialns for HRT or just planning to deal with it as it comes?
    PLEASE know, I am just wondering how this is addressed. There is absolutely NO condemnation in my questions! I am just wondering how that all go forward into adulthood.
    Much love and admiration to you.

  9. This is very sick and disturbing, and absolutely is child abuse. At age 5 she is not capable of consenting to this. Those parents should be jailed. Do you people have any idea what they’ve got in store for this little girl?

  10. Ryland’s story and his wonderful loving parents are an inspiration to all parents everywhere! As a Christian, I know a GOD who loves (period). The hateful people that posted mean comments on the various web sites from other “Christians” really need to take a step back and well, read their Bible! Jesus himself was hated because he was different. I too am different. I was a foster kid. I met my brother’s and sisters at about the same time I met God. My oldest brother had become my sister just a few months before meeting her. Then, I went to church and discovered the hate toward my family member because of his choice. I’m sorry, but perhaps if we had loving wonderful parents, like Ryland does, then perhaps we would have not experienced so much pain and hurt in our childhood! I really praise these awesome parents that are standing strong for their wonderful and yes, quite handsome son!
    You go!

  11. I’m am glad to see things changing. I knew by the age of 5, but if I’d said anything in 1958 or later, they would have had me locked up. I didn’t get to change until 8 was in my 40s. So glad I did, ftm. Last w week my 82 year old mother introduced me as her son! It was a major step for her.

  12. I don’t blame the parents. What parents want a little dyke in the family?

    Congratulations on promoting the latest form of gay and lesbian eugenics.

    The government of Iran supports “transitioning” too. Indeed, the Iranian government will even pay for sex reassignment surgery. Homosexuals, however, are executed.

    In western countries, we are more subtle about our particular form of gay and lesbian eugenics. We slap a label of “trans” or “gender dysphoria” on five year old children. When they start puberty, we give them GnRH agonists followed by cross gender hormones at age sixteen. This leaves them infertile. Sterilizing children is usually viewed as a human rights abuse, but when it’s done in the name of “gender identity”, it’s progressively cool and trendy. Surgery usually happens at age eighteen, but sometimes these children are mutilated when they are sixteen years of age. Researchers have known for some time that childhood gender non-conformity is a fairly good predictor of adult homosexuality. These kids are rendered infertile, mutilated, and “transitioned” into the opposite sex, so technically they aren’t homosexual. They never grow up to be gay or lesbian. The government of Iran has a similar approach to its homosexual problem. They usually “transition” homosexual adults, often by coercion, whereas the trend in western countries is to get them while they are young.

  13. @ George,

    “This is very sick and disturbing, and absolutely is child abuse. At age 5 she is not capable of consenting to this. Those parents should be jailed. Do you people have any idea what they’ve got in store for this little girl?”

    I agree. As to what they have in store for this little girl, sterilization through GnRH agonists followed by cross gender hormones would be my guess. If the parents call a five or six year old girl “he” or “him” long enough, she is going to be awful confused once she starts puberty. So, what they usually do is give kids GnRH agonists (puberty suppression) once they start puberty. If the GnRH agonists are followed by cross gender hormones, the kid is infertile. We are talking about sterilizing children. These children aren’t old enough to vote or buy alcohol, but they are supposedly mature enough to give up their fertility and possibly endanger their health.

    What is in store for this six year old female child? GnRH agonists, a life time of testosterone, and multiple surgeries none of which will ever make her male. So, the parents would rather tether this six year old girl to the medical system for the rest of her life instead of letting her just be a tomboy (think butch lesbian)

  14. According to, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18981931

    “Most children with gender dysphoria will not remain gender dysphoric after puberty. Children with persistent GID are characterized by more extreme gender dysphoria in childhood than children with desisting gender dysphoria. With regard to sexual orientation, the most likely outcome of childhood GID is homosexuality or bisexuality.”

    It’s not a matter of whether or not “transitioning” children is erasing gay and lesbian identity. Rather, it’s a matter of degree, or to what extent it’s occurring.

    History teaches us two things. First, medicine and psychiatry have always come up with some rather ghastly and ghoulish ways to cure homosexuality. From forced institutionalization to shock treatments and clitordectomies for unrepentent lesbians, some methods have been both incredible mind numbing barbaric and often inventive in a sick, twisted, and ghoulish sort of way Second, we know that there have times in history in which sex reassignment surgery has been used as a means of social control, specifically the erasing of gay and lesbian identity.

    Which countries carry out the most sex reassignment surgeries? Thailand is number one followed by Iran. In Thailand it’s cheap, and in Iran it appears to be one way that Iran deals with its homosexual problem. Actually, according to Ahmadinejad, there are no homosexuals in Iran. They have the “option” of “transitioning”, or facing the possibility of execution.

    Think about this. Why would one of the most oppressive countries on earth pay for sex reassignment surgery yet execute homosexuals? Credible sources say gay men and lesbians have been coerced into sex reassignment surgery.

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