LGBT Weekly Sat, 06 Feb 2016 02:03:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 UC Riverside psychology professor recruiting for new study analyzing the relationships of same-sex couples Sat, 06 Feb 2016 02:03:15 +0000 Megan Robbins

Megan Robbins

RIVERSIDE, Calif.  – Megan Robbins, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, is looking to recruit 150 same- and opposite-sex married (or marriage-like) couples for a new study that will look at how couples interact in their daily lives.

“I became interested in how lesbian and gay couples communicate after a study I did on how couples interact during a stressful period of their lives,” explained Robbins.

In the previous study, Robbins examined couples whose spouses were battling breast cancer. After analyzing the data, she noticed same-sex couples communicated differently than heterosexual couples. For example, according to Robbins, the data suggests that in heterosexual relationships husbands often dominated the conversation when speaking to their wives, but when a woman spoke to her lesbian partner, there was a sense of equality to her tone. This led Robbins to a noticeable trend in her study – lesbian couples seemed more egalitarian, displayed more positive behavior, and generally seemed happier in their relationship.

“The study was comprised of mostly heterosexual couples, and only seven lesbian couples, so I don’t have enough data to really dive into what it all means,” explained Robbins. “But, I became interested in looking at the dynamics of lesbian and gay relationships. When I noticed there is practically no research about homosexual couples available, I decided that it was time to look into it myself.”

Just about all couples’ therapy research, and therefore advice, concentrates on heterosexual couples, explained Robbins – how couples should deal with a tragic event, how to communicate with one another, how to love one another, and the list goes on. But, how this advice applies to same-sex couples is unclear.

If Robbins’ analysis on the little data she gathered from her previous study is characteristic of homosexual couples (stronger communication style, happier partnerships), then there is a lot all men and women can learn from these relationships to promote healthy behaviors, she said.

Couples who are interested in participating in the study may contact Robbins by sending her an email at Robbins is looking for 50 gay, and 50 lesbian couples, as well as 50 heterosexual couples. Participants will get paid, and the study will take a few hours of their time over one month.

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Pete Nowalk to receive prestigious LGBTQ Community Award at Point Foundation New York Gala Sat, 06 Feb 2016 01:48:47 +0000 Pete Norwalk

Pete Nowalk

LOS ANGELES — Point Foundation (Point) will honor producer, showrunner, and writer Pete Nowalk with the Point Leadership Award at the organization’s annual Point Honors gala in New York City, April 11. Point presents its Leadership Award to an individual who has achieved prominence in their professional career and unequivocally supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

Nowalk, whose additional producer credits include “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” will receive the award April 11 at the Point Honors gala at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students of merit, has used the grand setting of the library in recent years to present awards to Lena Dunham, Neal Baer, Jonathan Groff and Jeffrey Tambor.

“I’m in awe of the support and scholarship the Point Foundation offers to LGBTQ students,” said Nowalk. “There’s no better way to empower our future leaders than by helping them get the education they deserve. I’m honored to receive this award and look forward to celebrating the scholars and mentors who have my deepest admiration.”

“As a writer and producer, Pete Nowalk is responsible for some of the most intelligent and authentic portrayals of gay characters on TV,” said Jorge Valencia, executive director and chief executive officer of Point Foundation. “He is an example for LGBTQ young people that if you are confident in yourself, dedicate time to your education, and you find allies who believe in you, it is possible to realize your professional and personal dreams.”

Additional celebrity participation for the April 11 Point Honors event will be announced in the coming weeks. Some of Point’s 85 current scholars and 217 alumni will be present at the event to share with the audience their inspiring stories about how they have overcome challenges to get their higher education degrees. Information about attending or supporting Point Honors is at

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Hillcrest ‘smash and grab’ burglars sent to prison Sat, 06 Feb 2016 01:43:16 +0000 Two men who were involved in the “smash and grab” burglary series of businesses in Hillcrest and elsewhere were sentenced Jan. 25 to prison terms.

The longest sentence of 10 years and eight months went to Jeffrey Ryan Jakse, 27, who was arrested in Hillcrest Oct. 19.

Carlos Carranza Castaneda, 25, received five years and four months in prison from San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Groch.

The duo’s nickname came from San Diego Police because they often smashed windows to get into the businesses and then grabbed the cash register’s money before quickly leaving.

Groch ordered Castaneda to pay $341 to the Saffron restaurant, located at 3731 India Street which was burglarized Sept. 29, 2015. The restitution to other businesses will be determined later after they send the judge a statement of losses.

Other businesses hit were Uptown Cleaners in Hillcrest Oct. 18, 2015 and D’Angelo’s Pizza in Normal Heights, Oct. 6, 2015. They were also charged with numerous auto thefts, evading officers, vandalism and identity theft.

Castaneda pleaded guilty to burglarizing Saffron and D’Angelo’s. Jakse pleaded guilty to burglarizing D’Angelo’s, two counts of auto theft, evading police, auto burglary and committing some crimes while free on bond on an earlier case.

Both men received jail credits of three months in jail.

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Out Leadership announces OutWOMEN initiative for senior LGBT women in business Fri, 05 Feb 2016 18:44:05 +0000 Beth Brooke-Marciniak and Martine Rothblatt

Beth Brooke-Marciniak and Martine Rothblatt

NEW YORK — Out Leadership, a global business advisory organization, today announced the launch of OutWOMEN, an initiative that champions the success of senior LGBT women in business. Beth Brooke-Marciniak, global vice chair of public policy, EY and a member of Out Leadership’s Global Advisory Board, and Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, will co-chair the inaugural OutWOMEN event in March.

OutWOMEN is an important new platform Out Leadership will build to bring together senior LGBT executives to create business opportunities and cultivate talent – and thereby drive equality forward.

“Leaders in the LGBT business space and people in the trenches, who are working to deliver on the business promise of LGBT inclusion, have long asked: ‘Where are the women?'” said Stephanie Sandberg, managing director of Advisory & Client Services, Out Leadership. “We’ve observed that LGBT women are often under-recognized and underserved in the conversation. OutWOMEN is our platform to serve this impactful network, and we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.”

“Being out, being senior and being seen to have succeeded nonetheless, makes a difference,” said Ms. Brooke-Marciniak. “There are precious few women role models in the upper echelons of leadership. Just five percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and less than one percent of FTSE 250 CEO slots are held by women. Even fewer of these women openly identify as LGBT. Building this network helps each of us to visualize the path ahead to pursue executive leadership, leverage the full strength of our authenticity, and be the role models for tomorrow’s LGBT women leaders.”

OutWOMEN organizes global engagement opportunities for LGBT women in significant leadership positions at major companies. In its first year, it will convene a series of private, invitation-only salon dinners in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, London, and Hong Kong. These dinners will center on engaging conversation and facilitating cross-business opportunity among a curated cohort of senior LGBT women executives. OutWOMEN will also host breakfasts at Out Leadership’s 2016 summits in New York, Hong Kong and London, which will be open to younger women and allies of the group.

“There’s a real dearth of institutional and organizational support for successful LGBT women in business. OutWOMEN addresses a clear and present need,” said Ms. Rothblatt, “The women it will serve face unique opportunities and challenges as a result of their shared identities and experiences, and I’m delighted and honored to help guide the initiative forward. It is an awesome mission.”

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Sprinting toward your goals Fri, 05 Feb 2016 00:42:00 +0000 AWSD runners kick off_WTFAs a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!

I like this quote from Groucho Marx, “Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself; ‘I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.’”

In Psalms we read, “This is the day that God has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Notice it doesn’t say, “This is the day that God has made, I will rejoice tomorrow – maybe. Or next week, if I don’t have so many problems.” The Psalmist says, “This is the day.” This is the day God wants you to be happy. No one else can ultimately make you happy. The key is to learn how to be happy within yourself.

Sometimes we have to say, “God, I’m going to take what You’ve given me, and I’m going to make the most of it. I’m going to be happy with who You made me to be. I’m going to enjoy my life, in spite of my circumstances.”

You know, your life compared to somebody else’s is a bed of roses. Don’t ever take for granted what God has done for you. You may have some obstacles today, but some people would give anything in the world to have your life. Some people would give anything to have your health and blessings.

We have so much to be grateful for. What would happen if we stopped focusing on what’s wrong and started thanking God for what’s right and good?

Did you know it’s a scientific fact that if you go through life in a negative frame of mind, always stressed out, worried and full of fear, your immune system will weaken, making you more susceptible to sickness?

Think of it! When you stay full of joy, your immune system functions at its peak performance levels. No wonder the writer in Proverbs said, “A merry heart does good – like a medicine.”

One of the healthiest things you can do is learn to smile more often. When we smile, it sends a message to our whole body. Studies tell us when we smile, certain chemicals are released that travel throughout our system, relaxing us and helping us stay healthy.

Scripture also says, “Whatever state you’re in, be content.” Being content means you trust God enough that you don’t get so frustrated when things don’t go your way. You don’t allow circumstances to steal your joy and keep you from being happy. You can decide not to let the little things get the best of you.

As we are striving to live our best life now, based on the book by Rev. Joel Osteen, aim for excellence and integrity in your life. God created us to be people of integrity, people of honor, people who are trustworthy. A person of integrity is open and honest. He doesn’t have any hidden agendas or ulterior motives. A person of integrity is true to her word. She keeps her commitments. When you have integrity, you’ll do what’s right – whether anyone is watching or not.

I know God has great things in store for you. Get up each day expecting good things. Be excited about today. This could be the day things turn around for you.

Stay filled with hope. God wants you to be blessed with abundance – an abundance of joy, an abundance of happiness, surrounded by strong, healthy, rewarding relationships.

God will take you places you’ve never dreamed possible. This is the day that God has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it! Amen.

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Of legislation, death, justice and love Fri, 05 Feb 2016 00:37:12 +0000 This week an editorial from The Indianapolis Star found its way first into my email box, then my Facebook feed, entitled It’s not complicated — pass LGBT rights. Well, maybe if you live in California, but not in Indiana. One of the main problems the Hoosier state legislators are having with their civil rights bills is with transgender people. As Senate leader David Long (R-Fort Wayne) elsewhere stated, “The ‘T’ (in LGBT) is a stumbling block at the moment.” State Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) “heard concerns” from peer lawmakers, as well as constituents, then took the position that transgender protections should be tabled, then studied at a summer committee. Which, of course, would mean there would be a lot of years between LGB civil rights and T civil rights in the state.

Not that any of the Indiana bills proposed weren’t flawed; the bills all had huge religious exemption carve-outs that make them all troublesome bills to begin with.

There’s a quote from suffragist Alice Paul that seems to apply: “I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.” That said, when it comes to legislation, there’s nothing ordinary about ordinary equality.

In a piece written for The Advocate by Alison Gill and Brynn Tannehill entitled A User’s Guide to This Year’s Transphobic Legislation, they began by mentioning there were 20 pieces of anti-transgender legislation in 2015, but this year there are 28 pieces – so far. I didn’t need to find that story in my Facebook feed on Groundhog Day. The sheer number of bills year to year in some way reflects the “history repeating itself” aspect of the 1993 Bill Murray comedy by that name, but this story comes with none of the laughter.

Yet another item that found its way into my Facebook feed was the first reported transgender homicide this year. Monica Loera was shot to death early the morning of Jan. 22 in Austin, Texas. The Austin Police Department did what police departments often do, and identified Monica by her birth name, not the name she used in her day-to-day life. The transgender community didn’t even know they lost one of their own until Monica had been dead for about a week.

The alleged killer has already been arrested for first degree murder.

Closer to home in Baldwin Park, Stephen Justin Gonzales was found guilty of first degree murder in the slaying of trans woman Melony Smith in 2013. When Gonzales is sentenced Feb. 11, he’ll be facing 25-to-life for her murder.

Some justice, anyway, to read about in my email inbox. It doesn’t bring Melony back though.

Another story I’m thinking about that flew into my email inbox and Facebook feed was a story about a transgender Girl Scout named Stormi. According to BuzzFeed, Stormi was selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door in her neighborhood when she knocked on one door three blocks away from her home. A man opened the door, and after she made her pitch, he told her, “Nobody wants to buy cookies from a boy in a dress.”

Stormi didn’t react well to that. She cried to her foster mom Kim. Her foster mother and she moved her sales online to the Girls Scouts’ Digital Cookie, and Stormi wrote, “At my request my family will donate boxes to local foster kids like me!” And then Kim passed the story of Stormi’s experience to a trans family support site, and from there it went viral around social media. By Jan. 28, she’d sold more than 3,000 boxes of cookies; I know I bought a couple of boxes from her.

Stormi is going to remember the unkind thoughts of that man three blocks away from her home, but she’s also going to remember how the community rose up to send her love.

And that’s just what I want to think about at the end of this week: hope and love. I read so many articles on so many LGBT and trans-specific issues, that sometimes I forget that not all of them end badly. At the end of the day or week, there’s still room for love.

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Real estate investment: A checklist Thu, 04 Feb 2016 23:13:49 +0000


Other folks do it and make a bundle. Why can’t I?

Buying real estate for investment is tricky. There are no guarantees that it will be successful as real estate values are cyclical, and you may not be jumping in at the low point. Being successful in making good real estate choices is key, and this requires thought and some expertise. Let’s talk about some of the things to think about before taking the plunge.

You can buy real estate for income and you can buy for appreciation, or both. Whichever you choose, some of the same pertinent factors apply. You’ll want a good location which means a safe neighborhood close to amenities, services and schools that prospective tenants or purchasers would like to live in. That’s number one. You’ll also want to choose a property that is in fairly good condition at preferably a below market price that can be improved with only cosmetic changes.

Let’s delve into the last. The more expertise you possess in maintaining and fixing things, the more suitable landlord you will be, and the higher return you can expect. If you’re not handy and have to pay professionals for any little things that go wrong (and there will always be something), you might consider buying art or stocks that don’t need tending.

Now let’s talk money. Purchase of investment property usually requires a larger down payment than a personal residence and interest rates on mortgages also tend to be higher. Real estate investment depends on leverage, the fact that you can make a small down payment and use the bank’s money to buy something you could not otherwise afford.

After you know you’ve got the down payment, it’s time to do your homework and thoroughly research your potential expenses. You’ll have mortgage, taxes, insurance, repairs and maintenance at the minimum. You also should figure in a vacancy allowance, as you will surely have months when the property is on the market, vacant and not generating income. To calculate your net income, take the rent you can reasonably expect, and then deduct your monthly expenses. The residue is your net income.

Let’s say the rent is $1,500 and expenses come to $1,000. You invest $60,000 in cash. To figure the return on your cash invested, take the $500 a month net income, multiply by 12, to arrive at a net annual income of $6,000. Divide that $6,000 by your cash, and you arrive at a return on investment of 10 percent. Given current returns on other investments, anything over about a 6 percent return would be a good investment, with 10 percent being considered excellent.

If you are buying real estate for appreciation, your plan is to resell the property at a profit. This may entail either having the opportunity to buy low for one reason or another, i.e. you have an inside deal or find a highly motivated seller, and you simply turn around and flip the property for its current market value. Another avenue is to make significant improvements to the property that increases its value, and offer the renovated property for a higher price.

Whichever path you choose, income or appreciation, information is your best friend in making a good choice and being successful. You are wise to look into neighborhoods that have been down, but have the potential to be gentrified, into not-so-great properties in great locations that can be improved, and in multiplex units where you can live in one and rent the rest. Real estate can be a great way to build wealth if you buy smart, are patient, and most of all, know just what you are doing. Good luck!

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The real winners and losers in Iowa Thu, 04 Feb 2016 23:11:21 +0000 Monday night, Iowans cast the first votes in the 2016 presidential election. Sen. Ted Cruz won a clear, if somewhat small, Republican victory. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat Sen. Bernie Sanders by a razor thin margin to take the Democratic win.

The vote tally, however, has only a small role in determining a candidate’s position in the primary pecking order post Iowa. More important are how the candidates performed against expectations and what it projects for the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9 and beyond. By those measures, Sen. Marco Rubio won the Iowa caucuses by finishing third among Republicans.

Rubio clearly beat expectations. He was rising in the polls, but not to 23 percent and a near tie with Trump. Rubio didn’t just beat the other “establishment” candidates (Govs. John Kasich and Chris Christie and former Gov. Jeb Bush) – he tripled their combined total. New Hampshire polls have been split between Rubio and Kasich as the establishment choice, likely in third place behind Donald Trump and Cruz. Rubio repeating in third place in New Hampshire might get other establishment candidates to drop out; coming in first or second would make him the prohibitive favorite from that group. Either way, the endorsement of Sen. Tim Scott gives him a much needed boost in South Carolina Feb. 20.

Thanks to the media and Sanders, Clinton won the expectations game in her narrow Iowa victory and laid the groundwork for an irrelevant day in New Hampshire. Sanders’ late surge in Iowa, including polls showing him ahead, started a discussion of “What happens if Clinton loses in Iowa and New Hampshire?” Those talks had two conclusions: Sanders needed to win both states, and Clinton could probably survive losing both. Sanders has now lost Iowa, and is so far ahead in the New Hampshire polls that anything less than a 20 point victory will be underperforming. Clinton now has Iowa in her pocket, can’t really underperform expectations in New Hampshire, and has already risen from the dead there once (beating President Obama in 2008).

Cruz played Iowa to an expectations draw. His victory was good enough, but not the resounding win anticipated when he first rose to the top of the polls. He scored only one more convention delegate (8) than Trump or Rubio (7), and didn’t crack 30 percent. Sanders similarly finished about even. Twin wins in Iowa and New Hampshire wouldn’t have given Sanders much of a chance of overcoming Clinton’s establishment support. Now he has the same smaller opportunity he had months ago when he was a good bet to win New Hampshire and lose Iowa.

If there is a loser among the top candidates, it’s Trump. Not because second place is terrible, but because he’s thrown the “loser” label at so many people that his competition, and Fox News, will turn it on him mercilessly.

Conventional wisdom says that Trump needs a solid victory in New Hampshire to keep his campaign afloat, but conventional wisdom didn’t predict any of the Iowa results a few months ago.

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Coen brothers recreate some unwelcome period detail Thu, 04 Feb 2016 23:08:09 +0000

Channing Tatum in Hail, Caesar!

While I am a huge fan of the Coen brothers, I must acknowledge that they make some odd decisions that produce some ambiguous if not totally perplexing moments: The off-screen death of a major character in No Country for Old Men, the tornado that ends A Serious Man, the lack of any plot in Inside Llewyn Davis and pretty much all of The Big Lebowski. Usually, these weird scenes are aesthetically so interesting or so funny or, after some thought, thematically satisfying that the Coens get away with them, and they often end up being the most iconic parts of the films. But it doesn’t always work that way. Maybe I need a few months to think about Hail, Caesar! but right now, the over-stuffed incoherence and very odd political choices in the film don’t work. It’s rather unfortunate, too, because the Coens put together a fantastic cast and crafted a dozen or so near-genius scenes in Hail, Caesar! – including Channing Tatum in a nearly epic song-and-dance number – but it would have been nice to see they serve some purpose.

The film takes place over 28 hours in the life of 1950s movies producer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) who spends his days fixing problems like last minute casting choices, pregnant single starlets and paying ransoms for kidnapped actors. Mannix was a real person (though he worked at MGM, not the film’s fictional Capitol Pictures) but no one else in the film is. Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) is a slow-talking and sweet cowboy singer who Mannix casts in a prestige musical directed by the effete Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is a crass star of synchronized swimming spectacles who becomes pregnant without a husband. And pampered, somewhat clueless Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is starring in a religious spectacle about a Roman soldier who has an epiphany during Christ’s crucifixion when he is kidnapped and held ransom by a group of bitter Communist screenwriters.

Mannix must solve the studio’s problems while trying to quit smoking and decide whether to take a cushy, much less challenging job at Lockheed. Most of the scenes are speedy and full of quick, snarky, period-inflected dialogue, but some of the plots are much more interesting than others. After DeeAnna Moran transforms from a classy bathing beauty into her true, if stereotypically low-class, self, her scenes aren’t terribly remarkable (and, worse, an event described as rather fun, if not hilarious, happens off-screen.) Hobie Doyle is almost absurdly charming in his difficulty in transitioning into a tuxedo-clad song-and-dance man, but after the initial fish-out-water moment, he’s shoe-horned into scenes where he doesn’t seem to belong. Baird Whitlock’s communist kidnapping is the most entertaining plot, mostly because the great absurdity of Clooney’s dopey and vapid Whitlock learning about the plight of the workers and the means of production from a team of earnest and angry screenwriters.

I kept hoping that everything would somehow tie together and Coen would develop some characters aside from Mannix. Mannix is the only one who has an interior life, but the key traist the Coens give him are duty and guilt. (The real Mannix was much more intriguing and complicated.) Doyle approaches some depth and then he’s pulled into saving Whitlock, for no good dramatic reason. Moran is a stick figure. And most frustrating to me, the gay critic, was how the homosexuality of one character is deeply tied to his ethic-less communism, the homosexuality of another is expressed through stereotypical speech and him being a sexual predator, and the bisexuality of a third is a deep, shameful secret Mannix is trying to keep through the whole film. Using gay men in 1950s Hollywood as punchlines, dirty secrets and evidence of evil is not the kind of period detail the Coens should be recreating.

Hail, Caesar!

Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney and Alden Ehrenreich

Rated PG-13

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Resiliency in the LGBT community Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:57:36 +0000


This past weekend, I attended the first annual Finding Freedom LGBTQ Symposium in Palm Springs, sponsored by Foundations Recovery Network. A wonderfully diverse group of professionals from across the country gathered together to explore best practices in addiction treatment for co-occurring disorders. We met and contributed our insights and observations to the unique issues facing the LGBTQ community who are seeking help for co-occurring disorders.

As I reflect on the weekend and how I as a treatment professional can best help the LGBTQ community, my thoughts turn to the resiliency of our community. Resilience is about our capacity as humans to tolerate and move on with strength after experiencing an adverse event. Resiliency is about how we each have the ability to learn, renew and recreate ourselves in the face of change, challenge and opportunity. It is about adapting and moving with hope toward the future. Every time an individual in the LGBTQ community overcomes an adverse event, it adds positive self-esteem and builds the confidence needed to overcome similar experiences in the future. So many LGBTQ people have been the brunt of discrimination, external and internal homophobia, bullying and rejection. These same individuals are also towering examples of resiliency as they exhibit courage and bravery to stand tall and proud despite adversity. Resiliency is about bouncing back, surviving adversity and growing stronger.

Far too many of our community have silenced their courage with the addictive use of substances. Substance use often starts out as recreational use to temporarily enhance mood and ease social anxiety. For the addict and alcoholic, the loss of authenticity and loss of self becomes more and more apparent as their use escalates. Resiliency is what has carried them past the torment of addiction. I encourage you to take an inventory of your own character traits that reflect the powerful reality of resiliency in your life.

First, let’s take a look at self-awareness. How well do you know yourself? Has your substance use gotten in the way of knowing who you really are? The character traits of determination and vision teach us about our ability to focus on setting goals for the present moment and future. As an LGBTQ community and as individuals, it is important to not allow an unhealthy distracted lifestyle to drain our determination and rob the vision from so many unique people in our community. Daily life can be complex and, at times, downright chaotic. The character trait of organization brings value and order to life. Addictive use of substances empties our lives of healthy relationships. Healthy relationships give us the hope and positive experience needed to survive and prosper.

For individuals in early recovery, building new relationships can be very challenging as they leave substance-using friends. Forging new relationships and negotiating life on life’s terms is a new experience. The personal interactions taking place in early recovery begin with new friends who understand and support a balanced sober lifestyle. Gaining trust in these interactions is a boost to self-esteem and generates confidence to remain drug and alcohol free.

The characteristic of how we go about solving problems is so important in recovery. Problems and challenges in life can no longer be avoided and swept under the rug. I teach that every problem has a solution. Resiliency guides us to solutions that enhance our lives and bring a sense of peace.

Lastly, self-confidence is attractive and draws others into our lives. The self-confident person owns his or her resiliency and reinforces others on the recovery journey.

Addiction is at epidemic proportions in our society and in our LGBTQ community. Take a moment to reflect on how the character traits discussed above have perhaps been compromised in your life or the precious life of someone near to you.

There is always hope to return to the life you had prior to substance abuse.

Patricia Bathurst, LMFT, is the director of Foundations San Diego, an outpatient recovery facility located in Hillcrest at 3930 Fourth Ave., Suite 301, San Diego, CA 92103. Ms. Bathurst is a certified advanced addiction counselor as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Questions for Pat? Contact Foundations San Diego at 619-849-6010.

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Valentines among the vines Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:50:00 +0000

Photo: Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association

Wine country is closer than you think!

“Happy Valentine’s Day. You’re being kidnapped,” I said.

“Where are you taking me?” he asked. “Lestat” looked good in tight jeans, flannel shirt and down vest. Beard trimmed short, neat. Cap cocked, all attitude. “Just get in the car,” I insisted, and he did. I had a surprise up my sleeve to celebrate the day dedicated to love and affection.

San Diego faded in the rearview mirror as we cruised up Interstate 15 – corporate offices became tract homes became orchards; shaggy clouds shuffled across a cerulean sky. On the radio, Marvin Gaye longed for “Sexual Healing”. An easy hour later, Temecula Valley sprawled sun-dappled across the horizon. Mt. San Jacinto, jagged in the clear distance, wore a snowy shawl. “Behold, wine country,” I said. Lestat squeezed my hand.

Native Americans, the Luiseño people, knew this broad basin as “Temecunga”, meaning “place of sun”. Spanish explorers interpreted the word to mean “where the sun breaks through the mist”. The auspicious mix of early-morning mist and midday sun – plus granite-based soils, provided the necessary elements for growing grapes. That’s why grapes have been cultivated in the Temecula Valley since the 1700s. Today, 35,000 acres of rolling hills are dedicated to viniculture and the production of award-winning wines.

Boutique wine is big business, pouring $625 million into the local economy and fueling nearly 7,000 travel-spending supported jobs. Every year, more than 30 wineries slake the thirsts of two million visitors. The sound you hear is the popping of cork after cork after cork.

Temecula businesses provide a wide range of options for exulting nature’s bounty. Whether you prefer spending time in a luxurious chateau or a rustic farm house, riding in a limousine or on the back of a horse, taking in the view from a helicopter or a hot air balloon – a weekend or an afternoon, there is something certain to satisfy everyone.

Miramonte Winery | Photo: Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association

Lestat, a recent San Diegan, had never savored the abundance of wines available up the way. He was unfamiliar with the lay of the land and I wanted him to have a memorable wine-tasting experience – a guy never forgets his first time. He beamed as we pulled into Miramonte Winery and paid $17 for six tastes. Most wineries offer tours of the facilities and grounds, too, but we were there to exercise our palates.

The casual winery set atop a hill provides a sweeping 360-degree view. We stepped through the wide doors of the large high-ceilinged tasting room, glasses in hand, and found seats on one of many spacious sunny patios. Known for their Rhone varietal wines and blends, between the two of us we sipped our way through: Grenache Blanc resplendent with green apple, a fruity Rosé, a complex dry Riesling, a Pinot Noir filled with dark fruits, a full-bodied Pinot Gris, a robust Estate Syrah, a sweet peachy White Sangria and a spicy Moscatel. I “bagged” a bottle of Riesling and Lestat nabbed the Moscatel.

We also shared a delicious flatbread served steamy hot from the on-site Flowerhill Bistro. Tender bites of roasted chicken with caramelized onions and a drizzle of tangy chimichurri sauce, are topped by coarse-chopped fresh cilantro. The crust of whole wheat flour dusted with blue corn meal is light and crunchy. Yummy!

Our next stop was just down the road at the award-winning Callaway Winery, a comparatively huge place with a distinctly high-tech industrial vibe. By huge I mean they ship 15,000 cases a year. By high-tech industrial I mean the tasting room has expanses of

Callaway Vineyard and Winery | Photo: Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association

glass and steel with a wall of enomatic dispensers – a system which delivers wine directly from bottles utilizing inert gases. We bypassed the dispensers, sidled to the poured concrete counter and paid $15 for six tastes.

Lestat and I sampled: a woodsy Sauvignon Blanc, a zesty Reserve Chardonnay aged in French Oak, a Special Select Zinfandel with notes of black cherry, a delightful light-bodied Reserve Roussanne (90 point rating = a classic wine), a caramel kissed Reserve Syrah, a seductive Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (87 point rating = very good) and a playful Reserve Profondo. I added a bottle of Syrah to our collection.

Meritage Restaurant at Callaway Winery | Photo: Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association

We decided to visit the adjacent full-service restaurant, Meritage, for another quick bite. After being seated, we admired the austerely beautiful landscape – long rows of leafless gnarled vines, dormant, awaiting rebirth, rolling down a ridge. Lestat chose the Kobe Eye of Round Carpaccio, and I the Foie Gras. The carpaccio, served with crostini, features thin slices of exquisite raw beef nested atop Romaine lettuce tossed with capers, shaved parmesan cheese, portobello mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. The buttery pan-seared melt-in-your-mouth goose liver is served with earthy baby Spinach greens and a blackberry gastrique, garnished with fresh berries and toasted hazel nuts. Delectable!

We bid farewell to the ochre-hued hills, driving home as the sun slipped away and a deep purple fell. Distant city lights sparkled. On the radio, Sade crooned about a “Smooth Operator”. We were sated, content. Thankful we had visited wine country during the “off-season” when the narrow country roads aren’t clogged with traffic, and the parking lots aren’t jammed with large tour and boisterous party buses.

Temecula Valley is an ideal setting for a romantic getaway, weddings or other special occasions, like Valentine’s Day. Lestat thought so as well, and gave me a lingering kiss after we pulled up and parked at the curb. “Thank you,” he said, walking up the driveway cradling his souvenir bottle. “That was the best kidnapping ever.”

More information:

Miramonte Winery

33410 Rancho California Rd.

Temecula, CA 92591


Callaway Vineyard & Winery

32720 Rancho California Rd.

Temecula, CA 92591


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Meet Jackson Evans: Host of The Realish Housewives of San Diego Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:46:28 +0000

Jackson Evans

The Realish Housewives of San Diego is a parody of the many versions of The Real Housewives that has inundated Bravo TV since 2005. The show is the brainchild of two Chicago Second City alums Kate James and Tim Sniffen.

The San Diego version of the show is at the Balboa Theatre this week for eight shows from Feb. 2-7 and promises to treat audiences to a wild, crazy evening of ‘booze, brawls and botox’. For each city the show rolls into, the script is rewritten highlighting as much about the host city as possible.

The cast stays the same, but names, places and situations get an overhaul to bring hilarity and mayhem to the city visited.

Jackson Evans, originally from Cedar Rapids, Ind., plays the role of Randy, a character based on Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen. Evans, now a resident of the Windy City, got his start in theater performing in, yes, pageants.

“I’ve been calling the Windy City home for over a decade now,” Evans said. “Theater has been a giant part of my life for as long as I can remember; from Christmas pageants in church to theater summer camps to any school play I could weasel my way into. But I didn’t start doing it professionally until after I graduated from Northwestern University up in Evanston just north of Chicago. Since then I’ve been working in the Chicago land area as well as having work in Milwaukee and Los Angeles.”

Evans came into the world of Housewives not knowing anyone involved. In fact auditioning for James and Sniffen wasn’t easy. His audition for the show started out like most auditions, but it was his callback that stepped outside of the norm.

I didn’t know them [James and Sniffen] before the show,” Evans confided. “I was pretty intimidated to audition for them, for anyone at Second City for that matter. It’s such an incredible institution. My audition was not like any I’d ever done before and was a total blast! My initial audition was just doing the opening monologue I do in the play and then doing a short scene with a reader. But the call back was really fun because they called in five women, one for each part, and we got to read a few of the scenes with each other. And then they had each of us come up with our own tag line for our characters just like they have in the opening credits of the TV show and they asked us questions we improvised answers to in character. At one point I laughed so hard at one of the ladies’ answers I hit my head on the wall behind me. It was then that I realized that this would be such a fun project to get to work on.”

This will be Evans’ first tour. Months on the road can be a bit of a culture shock for most actors but he’s done his research and feels he’s pretty well prepared for the next five months.

“Right now we’re booked through the end of May,” Evans said. “Luckily though we’ve got a few breaks here and there so that we can head home to Chicago and check in on our home lives. But I’m so pumped for the cities we’re visiting. So many I’ve never been to before. This is my very first tour. But I’ve read Bossypants by Tina Fey where she discusses going on the road, so I feel very prepared. Although, I now assume that by the end of the tour I will be the newest anchor on Weekend Update.”

The Realish Housewives tour company

While there is some improvisation in the show, Evans and the rest of the cast were not part of the creation or writing of the script, but their input is always welcomed.

“The show is entirely written by Kate and Tim,” Evans said. “But they have been incredibly open to our input. It’s such a clever and smart parody that all we really have to do is just say the jokes they’ve written and most of the work is done for us. There have been a few instances when we’ve said that a certain kind of joke might work great in a particular spot and then they immediately write us back with the perfect zinger. Luckily Randy can openly laugh at some of the things the women say because most of the time it’s just me laughing at a well-written joke. And these actresses are just hilarious.”

Evans did his homework researching and boning up on all things Bravo and Cohen, but it’s not an impersonation of the TV host.

“At this point I think we should be best friends even though he’s never met me!” Evans joked. “For research, all I’ve done is up my viewing of all things Bravo. So much so that I’ve basically turned myself into the Dramaturg of the cast or in other words the guy who’s always saying, ‘That’s just like when Bethenny got into that argument with bonkers Kelly Bensimon.’ My character is based off of Andy but I’m not doing an outright impersonation so I’ve had so much fun upping the things I find wonderful about him. I’ve also read his latest book The Andy Cohen Diaries in which he details a year in his life.”

Evans is also excited about how the show works to highlight each city they are in. The process keeps things fresh and interesting, though occasionally the changes prove to be a challenge and can create some fun for them.

“We do get to make every show so specific to where we’re performing, which is such a treat,” Evans said. “It also keeps us on our toes. And why shouldn’t these fabulous cities have their own season of the Realish Housewives? The show is full of local references and site-specific locations. As of right now the only thing any of us has forgotten is each other’s names. But when I call an actress by the wrong character name, that can be a delicious bit in and of itself! Most of the show is scripted but we do have improvised sections which to be honest are my favorite parts of the show. Not only do we do a different show in every city, but every night is a different show due to the improv. And I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that the improvisation does have a little audience participation.”

This isn’t Evans first time in the San Diego area, but he does have plans to revisit a few favorite places and explore some new ones.

“I did one spring break in Coronado,” Evans said. “I am so excited to come back! I’m very lucky to have a cast full of explorers so I think we’ll be checking out a lot of things. We’ve talked about heading back to Coronado. I’m hoping to do some roller coasters in Belmont Park. Gaslamp Quarter. Maybe even some whale watching. But I have to say the thing I’m most looking forward to is no snow and the San Diego Zoo! That’s what I want to do most of all! I plan on being outside a lot.”

For tickets to the show visit Broadway San Diego’s Web site at or call 619-570-1100. The Balboa Theatre is located at 868 Fourth Ave at E Street in downtown San Diego.

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A cozy neighborhood bistro Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:43:18 +0000

Café Bleu

“Casual contemporary,” he said.

I had asked “Pierce” to describe the ambience of Café Bleu; the red walls, white stamped tin ceiling, blue-lit bar, the mix of dark wood tables and overstuffed sofas. A cozy neighborhood bistro in the heart of Mission Hills perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

“A little bohemian?” I suggested.

“Bohemian-esque,” he agreed.

Grady seated us promptly and introduced the menu. We decided on the three course Prix Fixe – a great deal at $24.95 per person. Pierce ordered a Manzanita India Pale Ale ($8) and I went with the evening’s wine pairings for $15.95. The hoppy glass of beer has a 90 International Bitterness Unit rating and is 8 percent Alcohol By Volume.

The evening began with an amuse-bouche, a bite-sized hors d’oeuvre served gratis. We savored a flaky pastry puff filled with beef tenderloin and a zesty Dijon cream sauce.

Pierce chose the French Onion Soup au Gratin and I selected the Chef’s Canapes for the first course. The soup is a tasty blend of beef broth and caramelized onions topped with croutons and melted gruyere cheese. The cheese however, was overly scorched which introduced an unfortunate char note to the flavor profile. The canapes included a potato croquette made with mashed potatoes and black forest ham, rolled in panko crumbs and deep-fried to a crispy golden brown, served with a red wine reduction; a slice of cucumber topped by a sweet eggplant and sun dried tomato ratatouille with a balsamic reduction; and a crunchy crostini garnished with tender salmon, spinach and housemade tartar sauce. The canapes were paired with a glass of Le Cengle 2014 Rose, Provence. The blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre grapes yields a pale salmon colored wine with crisp citrus flavors balanced by a hint of berries and brioche.

Grady presented our entrées, Steak Frites for Pierce and for me, the Coq au Vin. The succulent slices of grilled hanger steak are served with julienne-cut fries sprinkled with coarse sea salt and minced parsley, roasted green beans drizzled with a rich demi-glace, and a tangy horseradish crème fraîche sauce. The fall-off-the-bone tender Coq au Vin is half a chicken braised in red wine served with roasted pork belly, mushrooms and pearl onions. A steaming hot ramekin of velvety mashed potatoes topped by a crust of sharp pecorino cheese is served on the side. The poultry was paired with a glass of gorgeous ruby red Moillard 2012 Pinot Noir, burgundy. The delightful low tannin pour fills the palate with tart cherry and cranberry then provides a long lovely finish with a pinch of white peppercorn.

For dessert, Pierce swooned over the warm Dark Chocolate Ganache Cake, a dense spongy flourless cake served with fresh berries and a dreamy chocolate sauce. I enjoyed an artisan cheese, the piquant Noord Hollander. The firm aged gouda is accompanied by a medley of dried apricots, cranberries and raisins, fresh grapes, raw honeycomb and a savory sweet reduction of fig, cranberries and onions. The dessert wine was a glass of Daphine Rondillon, Loupiac. The golden wine is imbued with flavors of honey, orange blossoms and lilacs with a sweetness that cloys in the finish.

While Pierce and I had a wonderful dining experience overall, I must mention the service. Our primary waiter, Grady, was extremely professional – friendly, knowledgeable and attentive without hovering. The secondary server however, was overbearing and intrusive to the point where I thought he was going to pull up a chair and join us. Poor form, dude.

Café Bleu

807 West Washington St.

Open 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Friday and Saturday 11 p.m.


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The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:39:11 +0000

Cuba Gooding Jr. in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

dvr this

FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.

Ryan Murphy’s second anthology series, after American Horry Story, is focused on one major crime story a year, and he has started with OJ Simpson being accused and tried for the murder of his ex-wife and her friend. Without even watching the non-stop coverage of the events when they actually occurred in the mid-1990s, I ODed on OJ, so I’ve not been excited by Murphy’s take, since Murphy can go over-the-top and high-camp when it’s not always a great idea. But I’ve DVRed the show because the buzz has been deafening and the casting is astonishing — Cuba Gooding Jr. as OJ Simpson, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro and Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark.

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Bridge of Spies Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:35:11 +0000

Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance and Billy Magnussen in Bridge of Spies

dvd of the week

Steven Spielberg’s by-the-numbers spy suspense film stars Tom Hanks as James Donovan, a respected lawyer who is assigned to defend a Soviet spy in the late 1950s. Despite occasionally violent opposition to his treating Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) as deserving of due process and legal assistance, Donovan soldiers forth, the pinnacle of ethical goodness. When he’s asked to negotiate the trade of Abel for the pilot of a downed U-2 spy plane and a grad student arrested in East Berlin, Donovan must cross the Iron Curtain and uses his wits to do the right thing. The film is impeccably made, taut and beautifully filmed with great performances from Hanks and Rylance. It’s fun, but it’s also easy and a bit obvious, and perhaps not quite worth of being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

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Mayor Filner book author has two faces Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:31:33 +0000

It is well known in political circles that I was a longtime supporter and friend of Bob Filner – from School Board, to City Council, to Congress and to the Mayor’s Office. “Team First Lady” was indeed my idea and civic leader Nancy Chase was my co-chair.

In past columns of mine, I have stated that many of us – his friends, supporters, staff and Democratic leaders for decades accepted the fact that Bob could be crude, sexist and yes a complete asshole. But he was “our” Bob. Many looked the other way when it came to Bob because of his long record of fighting for the civil rights and equality of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, gays and working families. I have taken my responsibility in this column for not speaking out more and accepting things as they were. I’ve learned a lot about sexual harassment – more than I ever knew.

But shame on Lee Burdick who was on Bob’s mayoral staff from the first day to the end and now writes a book called Bob Filner’s Monster. Well Ms. Burdick, you, Vince Hall and others then were Frankenstein’s doctors as you also turned the other way and ignored his conduct. You, Ms. Burdick, give attorneys an even worse reputation with your two faces and “I found Jesus” like bull. This author, this empress has no clothes … period. Her book should be used for toilet paper.

Would you have a beer with Lori Saldaña?

Almost all of San Diego’s mayors have been nice individuals who were friendly, outgoing and had great people skills. Jerry Sanders stands out; Murphy was a gentleman; Hedgecock had a good sense of humor; Golding had a great smile and O’Connor opened up City Hall once a month to anyone who wanted to talk to their mayor. San Diegans love to like their mayors and when it comes to Kevin Faulconer you would not just like to have a beer with this guy but a whole damn keg!

Well, sad to say, most Republican and Democratic leaders I’ve talked to have told me that they definitely would not have a beer with mayoral candidate Lori Saldaña.

Mayor Parker to keynote Harvey Milk Breakfast

When Annise Parker was first elected mayor of the fourth largest city in America – Houston, Texas she made world headlines because she was a proud out lesbian. I first met her when she was the city controller of Houston. She is a dynamic civil servant and leader who cares about all people.

I am proud to say she will be the keynote speaker of the annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast Friday, May 20. As always, this event will be a sellout with over 1,000 people. Contact The Center for your table reservations today!

Who is a future Fourth District supervisor?

Ron Roberts will go down in history as one of our county’s most popular county supervisors. Respected and, yes, loved by many community leaders. He was just once again elected chairman of the board and is termed out. So of course there is already talk on who will follow him. Among Democrats being mentioned are Kevin Beiser and Susan Quinn and many party activists are hoping to encourage Nathan Fletcher to run who is busy with his Veterans Foundation and causes. Tony Young, who is now an Independent, is also mentioned. The only Republican who would actually have the best GOP chance is Lorie Zapf who is half Latina and interestingly would be the only person of color in this race.

Keep your eyes on them all. For right now it is early but then the early bird will get the worm.

And San Diego’s new labor boss is …

Lorena Gonzalez was one of the best labor leaders in San Diego history. She took names and kicked ass; a true “Iron Maiden” and a tough lady who ruled in a mostly man’s leadership world. Now some other San Diegan women are looking to follow in her high heels. Among them I hear, Carol Kim, Dale Kelly Bankhead and Laurie Coskey. Now to me the one that comes close to Lorena Gonzalez’ DNA … and that is …?

Police Officer Meyer did San Diego proud

Seems that radical demonstrations did not only shut down an LGBT Jewish reception at the annual Creating Change Conference in Chicago but also a workshop on improving police relations with speakers Latina activist Carolina Ramos and respected openly gay San Diego Police Officer Daniel Meyer. About 80 demonstrators forced Officer Meyer to leave the conference shouting him down and refusing to have dialogue about how to improve police and community relations; the workshop was shut down. Officer Meyer to his credit, in an ugly and threatening situation handled himself outstandingly. He did our city, the police department and his LGBT community proud.

As a past national board member of The LGBTQ Task Force I apologize to Officer Meyer as well as Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman for what he was subjected to which was totally unacceptable. I am glad to report that The LGBTQ Task Force leadership also reached out to this outstanding police officer to convey their regret and offer support of him.

LGBT San Diegans Fernando Lopez, Carolina Ramos, Ricky Cervantes and Connor Maddocks stood with Officer Meyer during this ugly ordeal and we should be proud of all of them, and I thank them for their solidarity.

Needless to say The Task Force is taking a serious look at both incidents and changes will be made so this never happens again.

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Stuff happens. Live with it! Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:27:47 +0000

Looking back there were many times when we came to a fork in the road and, willingly or not, we chose a path which changed our plans, our dreams and for what it’s worth brought us here. Some choices, part of becoming adults, were expected like college, job, where to live, whom to marry, etc. Such decisions were difficult enough, but they paled when the unexpected was thrust upon us such as death, job loss, pregnancy, military service, divorce, etc.

Whose fault may be debatable, but our plans, savings and hopes often came to naught. These bolts from the blue altered our lives sometimes in literally minutes. Shock, fear and panic engulfed us: what to do, whom to call, how to cope. Now in our “golden years,” the new forks we face are approaching far too swiftly: stay, move, my car, assisted living, my furniture, make a will, whom to trust and on and on. These dilemmas were all faced by our parents and friends; now it is our turn. There is no alternative but to accept reality, make a decision and live with it. Be sure you do it. Do not let others decide later what they want for your living arrangements, your furniture, your estate.

Open this new chapter without rancor and denial. Realize life changes are inevitable and are not automatically good or bad, just different. There is never a convenient time to deal with these unwelcome disruptions. Negative feelings are, therefore, natural, but it will be well worth the struggle to keep them at a minimum. The adjectives you, your spouse, partner and friends use can make a difference.

The new path may be a bitch, but it can also be challenging, exciting and interesting.

Nothing can possibly go wrong. Right?

I arrived yesterday in cold Tokyo on my way to the warm beaches and warmer gentlemen’s spas in Thailand. Preparing for the trip, I paid attention to essentials like spare glasses, address book, re-chargers as well as to various exotic oils and an amusing toy or two which I have found useful in massaging away the tensions in my young gurus during our yoga meditation (Well, you’ve heard of it now!). I also checked last year’s shirts and jeans to see if they had shrunk in the San Diego climate. Many seniors can attest to this occurring.

For the first time I made a list of what was to be taken, adding to it daily. It proved invaluable as I packed my suitcase and checked things off. I heartily recommend it. I even included advice like: check stove, lock windows, hold mail and cancel newspaper. I gave myself a pat on the back for making note of the obvious: take money, passport, ticket, wallet and call a taxi. What could possibly go wrong?

I arrived at the airport two hours early and handed over my ticket and passport. To be polite, certainly not to show off, I greeted the staff in Japanese. My good intentions aside, they replied in English.

All seemed normal until a scowl replaced a smile followed by a mumbled conference. A senior staff member approached demanding to know what I was up to. She then held up my passport letting rays of light beam through several holes. Horrified, I realized it was my old passport. My new one was still in my desk.

A sickly laugh and an attempted joke were met with silence. Luckily, a hysterical round-trip taxi dash to my home for fifty bucks (plus tip) allowed me to catch my flight. Such a beginning bodes ill. What’s coming?

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Jury convicts ex-Compton school official of sex crime Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:24:19 +0000

Skyy De’Anthony Fisher

After only about 45 minutes of deliberations, a San Diego jury convicted a former Compton School Board member Jan. 28 of performing oral sex on a sleeping straight man in his hotel room.

Skyy De’Anthony Fisher, 32, had been free on $100,000 bond, but San Diego Superior Court Judge Runston Maino ordered him into jail immediately after the verdict.

Deputy District Attorney Lisa Fox said Fisher faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison for the crime of oral copulation of an unconscious person. Sentencing was set for Feb. 29.

Fisher, a Democrat, was the youngest man ever elected at age 28 to the Compton Unified Board of Education in 2011, but was defeated for re-election Nov. 3, 2015 while this trial was pending. He received only 4.4 percent of the vote, and would have lost his job anyway had he been convicted of the felony before the election.

He was a controversial figure in Compton because of some unusual statements and was later arrested for DUI. He planned a trip to San Diego with a 25-year-old man named Steven whom he first met on Facebook. Both men are African American.

In a three-day trial last week, Steven testified they checked into the Keating Hotel at 432 F Street in a room with separate beds April 4, 2014. Steven said he woke up around 7:30 a.m. and discovered Fisher was orally copulating him.

Steven told the six man and six woman jury he was shocked as this was unwelcome. Fisher jumped back into bed and pretended to be asleep, according to Steven, who could not find his underwear. Steven immediately packed all his stuff and left.

His 911 call to police 30 minutes later was played several times to the jury and he appears to be sobbing.

“The person in my room tried to rape me,” he told a dispatcher.

Steven said he submitted to a rape exam with anal and oral swabs being taken. He said “it was the most uncomfortable thing I’d ever had in my life.” A criminalist testified that swabs of Steven’s penis showed DNA from Fisher’s saliva.

Fisher did not testify and his attorney, MaryEtta Marks, told jurors to question Steven’s motivation. She said Steven had been drinking and made threats to Fisher in comments to police and to Fisher himself in a police recorded phone call.

“I want Skyy to lose his job,” Steven said to police, saying he did not want Fisher to be around young males.

Fisher denied repeatedly that he was gay, and told Steven in the recorded phone call he was “high and drunk” at the time. He apologized to Steven and said “Can I make it up to you?” Fisher admitted to hiding Steven’s underwear as “a prank.”

The prosecutor told jurors the defense was raising “red herrings” and added “Steven is not on trial here.” Fox said Steven fell asleep “in a room where he thought he was safe” and Fisher committed a violation of trust.

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Pride’s annual meeting reveals $200K rain cost, 2015 achievements Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:19:07 +0000

Stephen Whitburn addresses attendees of Pride’s annual public board meeting | Photo: Thom Senzee

San Diego LGBT Pride’s rain-soaked 2015 music festival fell short of generating enough revenue to cover expenses, to the approximate tune of $200,000 – that’s why this year’s event will be covered by rain insurance, says the organization’s top administrator.

“We will have rain insurance this year,” said executive director, Stephen Whitburn in response to a question from San Diego LGBT Weekly at Pride’s annual public board meeting.

“You know rain insurance is very expensive,” Whitburn continued, agreeing that because 2016 is predicted to be a particularly strong El Niño year, it will be worth spending about $7,000 of the organization’s $1.7 million budget on coverage to mitigate the risk of losing revenues because of bad weather.

“We make every effort to use the community’s money wisely, but I think it’s an investment we have to make,” he said.

“We’re going to use about $200,000 of our reserves,” Whitburn told LGBT Weekly. “And thank God we had board members who had the foresight years ago, including the current board, to build up our reserves. I mean it’s not a good thing that happened, but the organization is financially sound.”

Whitburn tells LGBT Weekly that Pride still has enough in reserves to cover more than one similar shortfall. But he notes, it won’t be needed because rain insurance is an investment the organization will make regardless of the cost – at least this year.

“If you want an indication of how meaningful San Diego Pride really is to all of us, the fact that 20,000 people turned out in the rain to the festival is an indicator of how much it means to the community,” he continued, adding that Australian entertainer, Ruby Rose and alternative hip-hop star Big Freedia drew large crowds in spite of the storm.

Whitburn’s pride about the number of people who braved the wet weather at Balboa Park last July in order to take in his organization’s music festival is buttressed by the fact that expected headliner, former supermodel, dancer and pop diva, Carmen Electra was a no-show. However, Whitburn did not mention Electra during his remarks at the annual board meeting.

“It was so gratifying to see people in the rain, continuing to have a good time, laughing along the parade route, dancing in the rain and on the stages at the festival,” he said.

Board diversity: A nagging issue

There was universal acknowledgment at Wednesday’s annual public meeting of Pride’s board of directors that the current board more closely resembles the racial, cultural and gender diversity of the community it serves than in years past.

There was, however, vocal criticism from more than one member of the public in attendance, and insistence that the organization could do more to improve diversity among its slate of directors.

“The San Diego Pride board is led by a female co-chair, a male co-chair, a secretary and a treasurer,” Whitburn told LGBT Weekly Monday. “The current female co-chair is bi-racial – African American and Latina. The male co-chair is Asian Pacific-Islander; the secretary is Latino and the treasurer is Caucasian.”

Overall, says Whitburn a majority of Pride’s 11 board members are people of color. Forty-five percent identify as gay, 36 percent as lesbian, nine percent bisexual and nine percent say they’re straight.

“As for age, 45 percent are under 40,” continued Whitburn. “Twenty-seven percent are between 40 and 65, while another 27 percent are over 65.”

Nevertheless, perceived or actual lack of diversity on Pride’s board of directors has long been a source of frustration among some members of the local LGBT and allied communities. Like their predecessors before them experienced in years past, current board members found themselves playing defense at last week’s meeting, which convened in the main hall of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.

Asked by San Diego LGBT Weekly about rumors that the board was considering disbanding its Community Advisory Committee, a group originally formed to ensure better racial and cultural diversity, one member of Pride’s directors confirmed that the board was considering such a move.

“That was just an idea that was being talked about,” he said. “No decision has been made to ‘disband’ the committee, if that’s how you want to put it.”

The reason board members gave for considering disbanding the committee was lack of commitment among its members, as well as alleged lack of follow-through on projects.

Local activist and LGBT Weekly columnist, Nicole Murray Ramirez stood up at the meeting to insist the board reinvigorate the committee. Ramirez reminded the board that the advisory committee’s original purpose was to foster greater board diversity.

“I’m the one who proposed the Community Advisory Board,” said Ramirez. “And this board does not have the right to change the purpose of the advisory board. In 2010 it was a commitment that you represent the diversity of the community.”

Plethora of volunteers

Attracting volunteers, especially at Pride’s signature summertime events, is not a problem for the organization. More than half of the crowd raised hands when asked who among them had volunteered last year.

San Diegan Edward Condreay, 32, is a Pride volunteer and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

“I’m the front gate manager for the festival,” Condreay told LGBT Weekly. “I’ll be ensuring nothing goes into the festival that shouldn’t be going in, so that everyone can have a fun and safe time.”

He says he’ll use skills he learned in the U.S. Marine Corps to be firm and respectful at the festival’s front gate this year. Condreay’s boyfriend, 22-year-old fellow Marine, Chris Frick will also be assigned to the festival’s front gate.

“I always love volunteering,” said Frick, an Eagle Scout as well as an active-duty Marine. “Community relations have not only always been a part of my active-duty career, but even prior to the military; I was always helping out the community, always looking for that volunteer opportunity.”

According to Pride, there is a misconception that its production team is mostly comprised of gay males. In fact, nearly 30 percent of its volunteers in 2015 identified as “straight,” while nearly 60 percent were female.

However, the organization believes the five percent figure its surveys reveal as the number of transgender volunteers it has is likely skewed lower because some trans volunteers simply identify as either male or female.

‘Pride Unites the World’

Building on the popularity of its second annual Pride World Forum, convened in August of last year with 24 LGBT activists from around the globe, this year San Diego LGBT Pride will theme its parade and festival under the banner, “Pride Unites the World.”

According to Whitburn and Pride Director of Operations Fernando Lopez, the local region’s LGBT community has been particularly effective in bringing together gender and sexual minorities from countries around the world, helping them find new power toward achieving greater acceptance and equality.

Beyond the parade

Whitburn took the opportunity presented by Pride’s annual public meeting to note some of the ways the group benefitted the community last year, beyond organizing a summertime LGBT Pride parade and music festival. Not least among those benefits was 400 hours of meeting space Pride provided free of charge to local non-profit organizations and charitable efforts.

“The market value of that was $15,000,” Whitburn said.

San Diego LGBT Pride donated a $1,000 grant to the Balboa Park Conservancy in 2015. According to Lopez, Pride was also instrumental in helping San Diego Unified School District come closer to meeting its state-mandated cultural-competency obligations in 2015 with respect to educating its faculty and student body about LGBT culture and history.

“For the first time, just a couple of weeks ago, San Diego Unified School District hired its very-first LGBT-resource teacher,” said Lopez.

Lopez says the school district is creating a second position focused on promulgating LGBT education in the schools, this one more administrative in nature.

“We asked for one position, we got two,” Lopez said.

This year San Diego LGBT Pride will host a free community-services venue situated in front of the festival entrance. A ticket to the 2016 festival will set goers back a mere $15.

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Groundbreaking Tax Guide launched to help LGBTQ taxpayers Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:38:15 +0000 queer_our_taxes_lgbtq_300x229WASHINGTON, DC —The National LGBTQ Task Force has launched a groundbreaking income tax preparation guide for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. The new taxpayer resource is intended to guide LGBTQ people with questions they might want to ask when sitting in front of their tax preparer or program. The first-of-its-kind guide translates complicated income tax form information in a way that is more understandable and accessible for LGBTQ people.

“LGBTQ people are disproportionally more likely to live at or below the poverty line—they are also often the most in need of income tax information and least able to access it. The straight forward information in this guide will empower LGBTQ people to get credits and deductions that lift millions of people out of poverty,” said Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Director, National LGBTQ Task Force. “Most LGBTQ people don’t know that you can deduct out of pocket costs for transition-related care including surgery. Many of us also don’t know that you may be able to claim a large credit for adoption related expenses.”
The new publication is part of the organization’s “Queer Our Taxes” effort, a public education and advocacy campaign focused on securing economic justice for LGBTQ people. To learn more about Queer our Taxes, and to download the new taxpayer guide visit:
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Martin Shkreli invokes the Fifth Amendment and refuses to testify at House hearing Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:29:08 +0000

WASHINGTON — Today, the public got a disturbing window into the actions of former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, a sniggering, contemptuous former hedge fund manager who led a scheme to turn a profit off of price hikes on a crucial life-saving drug. At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing this morning, Shkreli appeared alongside Turing CCO Nancy Retzlaff who, astonishingly, testified in defense of their unconscionable 5,000 percent price hike on the life-saving drug Daraprim.

Watch Shkreli’s responses in the video above.

During the hearing, Shkreli repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify, leaving the dirty work to Retzlaff, who, after claiming the company was losing money, acknowledged six-figure pay raises, and a $23,000 company party on a yacht. With fireworks.

“Shkreli’s despicable effort to make money off sick, vulnerable patients was on full display for the world to see this morning,” said Chad Griffin, President of HRC, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization. “He grinned, smirked, and pleaded the fifth through a hearing about price gouging and putting life-saving drugs out of reach for the most vulnerable patients. With lives literally hanging in the balance, Congress must act to condemn these practices and protect people over profits. And we again call on Turing CEO Ron Tilles to restore Daraprim to its original price.”

Immediately following his appearance before the committee — during which he refused to provide answers — Shkreli tweeted, “Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government.”

Daraprim is a crucial treatment for many pregnant women and people living with HIV. Last fall, then-Turing CEO Shkreli acquired the rights to the drug and subsequently raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per dose overnight.

In internal Turing documents released by the House committee earlier this week, Shkreli, who resigned from the company after coming under investigation for securities fraud, gloats in an email about the impending purchase of Daraprim as a financial windfall. “$1 [billion], here we come,” he wrote. He also boasted about potential enormous gains from the planned per-pill price hike, writing that it could generate $375 million in profits annually for at least three years.

Shkreli resigned from Turing in December, a day after he was arrested by the FBI amid a federal investigation involving his former hedge fund and another pharmaceutical company he previously headed.

In an open appeal to Turing in October, HRC joined more than 160 organizations in calling on Shkreli to immediately act on his promise to lower the price on Daraprim. And HRC continues its call to get to the bottom of whether Turing and Shkreli violated antitrust laws by limiting distribution of a drug that is essential to the lives of medically vulnerable people, including those living with HIV and pregnant women.

Last fall, at HRC’s urging, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began investigating whether Turing Pharmaceuticals may have violated antitrust laws by limiting distribution of the drug. HRC also sent letters to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, seeking an investigation into the unconscionable action of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

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Washington State lawmakers advance second piece of legislation attacking transgender Americans Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:09:51 +0000 Late last night by the Washington Senate Committee on Law and Justice voted four to three in favor of legislation that would specifically prohibit the state’s non-discrimination laws from protecting transgender people against discrimination in the use of sex-segregated facilities. The vote to advance SB 6548 comes shortly after a different Senate committee voted last week to advance legislation – SB 6443 – that would repeal long-standing, gender identity non-discrimination regulations previously put into place by the state’s Human Rights Commission.

“Anti-equality activists are pushing extreme and shameful measures in the Evergreen State that would roll back the critical non-discrimination protections transgender Washingtonians need and deserve,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “We urge all fair-minded people across the state to demand their lawmakers immediately stop these offensive assaults on fairness and equality, and we call on the Senate to vote down these dangerous measures if they come to a vote on the floor.”

Both pieces of legislation seek to allow discrimination against transgender Washingtonians using facilities consistent with their gender identity. SB 6443, passed through the Senate Committee on Commerce & Labor last week, would repeal the regulations promulgated by the state’s Human Rights Commission ensuring that people are able to access sex-segregated facilities according to their gender identity, and would prevent the commission from implementing future regulations on the subject. It is now headed to the Rules Committee who will decide if it will be placed on the Senate floor calendar.

“As a transgender man and longtime youth advocate, I am disappointed by the Committee’s efforts to take away civil rights that have been in place for over a decade,” said Seth Kirby, Oasis Youth Center Executive Director and a spokesperson with the Washington Safety & Access For Everyone (SAFE) Alliance. “This kind of legislation is a deliberate attempt to limit transgender people like me from living our lives fully—at home, school, work—and to compromise our safety.”

The anti-transgender measures in Washington state are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in state legislatures around the country in 2016.  HRC is currently tracking 150 anti-LGBT bills in 31 states. Earlier this month, HRC released a preview of these attacks which range from legislation attempting to undermine marriage equality; proposals aimed to authorize individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people; bills seeking to restrict or criminalize transgender people who use facilities consistent with their gender identity; and even legislation aimed at eliminating the ability of local governments to protect LGBT residents and visitors. For more information, visit:

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San Diego County Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation seeks need-based scholarship applicants Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:03:16 +0000 SDCCSFSAN DIEGO, Calif. – San Diego County Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation is seeking need based scholarship applicants for the 2016-2017 academic year.

High school seniors who have a financial need and who will be attending a college or university in San Diego County full-time in the 2016-17 school year are encouraged to apply. The application is available online at through March 2.

The following types of students are encouraged to apply:

  • Students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Students who have encountered personal, familial, or educational challenges
  • Students who would not qualify for merit based scholarships
  • Students who will be first-generation college students

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Be a senior in a high school in San Diego County
  2. Be a resident of San Diego County for the last year
  3. Plan to attend an accredited college in San Diego County
  4. Plan to attend college full-time in fall and spring
  5. Have financial need

There is no minimum GPA or citizenship requirement.

“I am the first person in my family to attend college and one of the few to graduate high school, so to me it’s a blessing to receive this help”, wrote a 2015 scholarship recipient.

Board President Allan Spyere said,“This scholarship is our chance to change someone’s life. We have done that for the past 50 years and have witnessed the incredible impact in the education of unprivileged students”

The amount of each scholarship will be announced in June or July. Last year, $140,000 was awarded to 140 students.

Applications must be submitted online or postmarked by March 2, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. PST.

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Off to the races Thu, 04 Feb 2016 18:29:48 +0000 We now know the winners of the Iowa caucuses; Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton. A self-proclaimed conservative outsider and the ultimate progressive insider. So America has a choice, the LGBT community does not.

While the primaries are just beginning, I believe Iowa has actually chosen one eventual nominee and one that will flame out. Sure there may be a few bumps along the way for Clinton, like New Hampshire, but Cruz is highly unlikely to be the nominee of his party.

His Republican peers hate Ted Cruz. So as we move to the next few primaries, it will become evident that the Republican establishment will cast its lot with Sen. Marco Rubio. So that means as we go forward the Republican choice will be Donald Trump or Rubio. Neither of whom is a great supporter of LGBT rights. Just like what the Republicans have done over the last decade with a woman’s right to choose, Trump, Rubio or Cruz would take the same tack with LGBT rights; chip away on the margins to ultimately weaken our marriage and adoption rights.

The choice on the other side Secretary Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders could not be more contrasting. Both are completely supportive of full civil rights for LGBT people. As I say every time, then why do over 20 percent of LGBT people vote Republican?

Well we are off to the races, the race for the White House coupled with a race for demographic advantage. The Republicans are counting on white conservatives to deliver a Republican to the White House. But the demographics just don’t work.

The Republicans have offended Latinos, African Americans, women and LGBT people with a host of positions and statements taken by the Republican presidential field. Not a great way to build a coalition to take you to the White House.

If the choice is between Rubio and Trump, as I believe it ultimately will be, the Republican establishment will pick Rubio. Why? The Republicans think Rubio can peel off some of the Latino vote. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Cubans are the arrogant cousin in the Latino family. Some believe that Cubans are a “special class” because they were treated differently with respect to immigration. A fact that Rubio’s family took advantage of to immigrate to America which Rubio seeks to deny to many Latinos that have come to America with the same dream as his parents.

So if you are pro-LGBT and pro-immigrant there is only one choice, the Democratic nominee. The odds favor a filly.



San Diego LGBT Weekly

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The City: Top to Bottom Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:19:33 +0000

Judith Barry: Voice Off

thursday, feb. 4

Judith Barry: Voice Off

An artist and writer who trained in architecture, Judith Barry creates experiential video works in which the viewer plays an integral role. These innovative installations often explore the relationship between physical space and psychological space – and how these spaces shape us as subjects. Voice Off (1998-99) is a two-channel video and sound installation in which videos are projected onto each side of a wall dividing the gallery.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Downtown, 1100 and 1001 Kettner Blvd. in San Diego, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., general admission $10, 858-454-3541,

Joe DeRosa

friday, feb. 5

Joe DeRosa

Writer, actor, and standup comedian Joe DeRosa has become a favorite on the comedy circuit. His brand of comedy mixing brutal honesty and frustration at the workings of the world has won over comedy fans, radio listeners, and TV audiences nationwide. DeRosa can currently be seen on History Channel’s I Love the 1880s, and has appeared on HBO’s Bored To Death, FX’s Louie, IFC’s Z-Rock, E’s Chelsea Lately, and DirecTV’s The Artie Lange Show.

The American Comedy Company, 818B Sixth Ave. in San Diego, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., tickets $18, 619-795-3858,

Outside Mullingar

saturday, feb. 6

Outside Mullingar

Anthony and Rosemary are 40-something locals living in a tiny village in rural Ireland. They haven’t got a clue when it comes to love. Painfully shy Anthony has spent his entire life as a recluse on a cattle farm. Rosemary, the fiercely independent free spirit that lives next door, is determined to have him. But Rosemary thinks Anthony needs to make the first move. Suddenly a wild and hysterically funny family vs. family feud erupts over a tiny patch of land. Soon a bonfire of a battle blazes between Rosemary and Anthony and their ma and da. Hope and togetherness are severely challenged.

Lyceum Space Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza in San Diego, 8 p.m., tickets from $20, 619-544-1000,


sunday, feb. 7


Originally from Peoria, Ill. Stellita now lives in America’s Finest City. Growing up in a musical household, she was exposed to a range of sound; including jazz and blues, Motown, R & B, rock, and country. Influenced by hypnotic voices like Billie Holiday, Diana Ross, Nancy Wilson, Natalie Cole and later – Sade, Luther Vandross and Whitney Houston, Stellita now gives performances that are reminiscent of old times, infused with the soul of today!

Humphreys Backstage Live, 2241 Shelter Island Dr. in San Diego, 10 a.m., 619-224-3577,

British Invasion: Design, Style, Culture

monday, feb. 8

British Invasion: Design, Style, Culture

A unique exhibit of rare British cars. Cars on show include a 1951 MG TD, a 1932 MG J12 and a 1932 Morgan Super Sport. A true feast for the eyes for all automotive enthusiasts.

San Diego Automotive Museum, 2080 Pan American Plaza in Balboa Park, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., adult admission $9, 619-231-2886,

Robert Dubac’s The Book of Moron

tuesday, feb. 9

The Book of Moron

Combining theater with stand-up Robert Dubac buckles us up for a fast-paced joy ride over the pot-holed highways of cultural hypocrisy. Riding shotgun with intelligence and absurdity he crashes head first into the barriers of sex, race, religion, politics and the media. And he’s not alone. With mesmerizing ease, he portrays multiple characters who all take turns beating the hornet’s nest of hype and spin with the big stick of knowledge. It’s comedy on steroids.

North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach, 7:30 p.m., tickets $30, 858-481-1055,


wednesday, feb. 10


The Moscow Festival Ballet (founded by legendary Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Sergei Radchenko) brings together the highest classical elements of the great Bolshoi and Kirov Ballet companies. The troupe returns to the Jacobs Music Center for the darkly magical fable, Giselle.

Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B Street in San Diego, 7:30 p.m., tickets from $20, 619-235-0804,

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St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral presents ‘The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later’ Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:49:06 +0000 LaramieSt. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral Presents The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later Saturday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the cathedral chancel, 2728 6th Ave. in San Diego.

With over 50 actors in the cast the presentation is based on interviews with the people of Laramie, Wyo. 10 years after the brutal murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

Come see people you know perform this powerful drama, which reminds us that, despite progress, homophobia remains a concern.

There is no charge. Contributions are welcome to defray costs.

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South Dakota lawmakers advance two more extreme measures targeting LGBT Americans Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:30:31 +0000 Today, South Dakota lawmakers moved forward with two more pieces of discriminatory legislation targeting LGBT South Dakotans – HB 1112 and HB 1107. Both passed through the House State Affairs committee today by a vote of 10 to 3. HB 1112 could ban transgender students from participating in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity and HB 1107 seeks to explicitly authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT South Dakotans and single mothers.

HB 1107 would explicitly authorize recipients of taxpayer funds or other state recognition to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, and single mothers.

HB 1112 would directly override the authority of the South Dakota High School Activities Association and make any “transgender policy”adopted by the Association subject to consent of the Legislature. It also declares void the existing policy adopted by the Association, which allows transgender students to participate in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity.

“Fairness and equality are under attack in South Dakota,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Both of these pieces of legislation shamefully passed today by the House State Affairs committee are dangerously far-reaching and would have severe consequences, not just for LGBT South Dakotans and their families, but for the entire Mount Rushmore State. Fair-minded people across the state must stand up and demand their lawmakers stop these extreme, discriminatory measures.”

HB 1112 is the second piece of legislation moving forward in South Dakota that specifically targets transgender students. Last week by a vote of 58 to 10, the South Dakota House of Representatives passed HB 1008 – extreme legislation seeking to prevent transgender students in public schools from using sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity and putting state law in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Education. Putting South Dakota school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX, the discriminatory HB 1008 would force public schools to pay the costs of legal challenges and force them into an untenable position of choosing between state and federal law. It would also tie the hands of school administrators and teachers who would no longer have the flexibility they need to find workable solutions in coordination with transgender students and their parents.

The extreme measures in South Dakota are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed by anti-equality activists around the country in 2016. To date, HRC is tracking 150 anti-LGBT bills in 30 states. These range from legislation attempting to undermine marriage equality; proposals aimed to authorize individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people; bills seeking to restrict or criminalize transgender people who use facilities consistent with their gender identity; and even legislation aimed at eliminating the ability of local governments to protect LGBT residents and visitors. For more information, visit:

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SD Human Dignity Foundation disburses more than $215K to local HIV/AIDS agencies Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:23:31 +0000

Family Health Centers of San Diego receive their check.  PHOTO: BIG MIKE

SAN DIEGO The San Diego HIV Funding Collaborative (HFC), a grant program of San Diego Human Dignity Foundation (SDHDF), held a luncheon Friday, Jan. 29 in the Deborah Hoffman Community Room at The San Diego Foundation in Liberty Station where representatives from 11 local nonprofits and the community at large assembled to celebrate the gifts of critical funds from HFC to support their HIV/AIDS programs and services.

According to the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency’s 2012 HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Report, California has the second largest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the United States. Also, San Diego County has the third largest number of HIV/AIDS cases in California. Due to the large number of cases, numerous organizations in San Diego County offer several programs and services to proactively support those suffering from and ending new HIV infections.
“San Diego boasts a wonderful array of culturally and gender-sensitive HIV programming,” said Ian Morton, senior programs analyst, San Diego Human Dignity Foundation and HIV Funding Collaborative. “We would not have it any other way! Whether preventing or treating HIV, it is imperative that we have programs that reflect the diversity and needs of individual San Diegans. Through the HIV Funding Collaborative, we are able to support advocacy programs with childcare options; syringe exchange programs which can benefit communities impacted by addiction while keeping dirty needles out of playgrounds; and legal services for individuals dealing with employment or housing discrimination.”
The following organizations were honored at Friday’s luncheon:
  • Being Alive – $20,000 – To support the organization’s general funding program.
  • Christie’s Place – $20,000 – To fund integrated HIV services for women, children and families.
  • Family Health Center San Diego – $20,000 – To support their Safe Point syringe exchange program.
  • Fraternity House – $15,750 – To support their Mental Health, Education, Nutrition and a healthy Direction (MEND) project.
  • Mama’s Kitchen – $20,000 – To fund their AIDS nutrition program and pantry service.
  • NC LGBTQ Community Center – $20,000 – To fund their HIV/AIDS project.
  • San Diego Volunteer Lawyer’s Program – $20,000 – For their HIV/AIDS legal services project.
  • San Diego Youth Services – $19,993 – To support the Peer Education Empowerment Program (PEEP).
  • San Ysidro Health Centers – $20,000 – To support the CASA and Our Place programs. This organization focuses on Latino and African American HIV services.
  • Stepping Stone San Diego – $20,000 – To support its general funding program.
  • Vista Community Clinic – $20,000 – To fund their program which provides pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to high-need North County populations.
In total, the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation through the HFC donated more than $215,000 in funds this year. Since the start of SDHDF’s collaboration with HFC in 2009, the SDHDF has gifted more than $1.6 million through the HFC program to San Diego County HIV/AIDS programs and services. Since the HFC’s inception in 1990, the organization has donated more than $3 million in grants. The SDHDF’s HFC program is considered one of the largest local funding programs for local HIV/AIDS service providers.
Additionally, the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation also made announcements and provided details at the luncheon about what’s to come in 2016, which is also the organization’s 20th anniversary. In addition to supporting San Diego through grants for agencies and programs, for the third year SDHDF and HFC will support consumers living with HIV through the advocacy initiative, AIDS Watch. This opportunity allows individuals to meet with elected officials and staff in Washington D.C., to give first-hand accounts on how HIV legislation and policy affect their lives. Nominated by the agencies that have watched them grow, the 2016 delegates team will be made up of: Tracie O’Brien (Family Health Centers), Anthony Mendavil (Stepping Stone), Rafael Rubalcaba (North County LGBTQ Center), Raul Robles (San Diego LGBT Center), Priscilla Mahannah (Christie’s Place) and Dennis Vega (San Ysidro Health Centers).
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HRC highlights California’s LGBT protections, laws and legislative proposals in new national report Wed, 03 Feb 2016 20:35:10 +0000 SEI-2015WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in partnership with the Equality Federation, today released its second annual national report assessing the status of state legislation affecting LGBT equality across America, including in California.

The State Equality Index (SEI) reveals that, even with historic progress on marriage equality, there are extraordinary state-to-state disparities in LGBT non-discrimination protections, including in the workplace, and efforts continue by equality opponents to pass state-level legislation that would sanction discrimination and undermine even minimal existing protections.

“Even with marriage equality the law of the land, the battle for LGBT rights at the state level continues to be a story of successes and setbacks,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Though a number of states are expanding access to non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and their families, a majority of states are still struggling to reach even a basic level of equality for LGBT people.”

“This year will be one of our most challenging yet, with our opponents in more than two dozen states pushing deeply harmful laws that undermine critical protections in the guise of ‘religious liberty,’” Griffin said. “Equally troubling are disgraceful bills targeting the transgender community — from preventing transgender people from using public facilities, including bathrooms, that accord with their gender identity, to denying them the ability to make gender and name changes on crucial identification documents.”

While more than 111 million people live in states where LGBT people lack clear state-level protections against discrimination in the workplace, the SEI points to a few encouraging signs – particularly in areas related to LGBTQ youth, health, and safety. States like Utah, New York, and Illinois expanded access to equality for LGBT people and their families, while others strengthened existing hate crimes laws, improved access to transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, and protected LGBT youth from harmful “conversion therapy”.

The SEI assesses statewide LGBT-related legislation and policies, good and bad, in five areas: parenting laws and policies; non-discrimination laws; hate crimes laws; youth-related laws and policies; and health and safety laws and policies. Based on that review, the SEI assigns states to one of four distinct categories.

California falls into the highest-performing category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality.”

Six states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality”

These states and the nation’s capital have robust LGBT non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as protections in the realm of credit, insurance, and jury selection. Most allow transgender people to change official documents to reflect their gender identity. Almost all bar private insurers from banning transition-related healthcare. LGBT youth are protected by anti-bullying laws, as well as innovative measures in some states that address conversion therapy, inclusive juvenile justice policies, homelessness, and sexual education. The states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington.

Six states are in the category “Solidifying Equality”

These states have non-discrimination protections and are considered high-performing but not cutting edge on LGBT equality. Many of these states allow transgender individuals to change gender markers on official documents. More than half do not allow second parent adoption. These states have relatively robust anti-bullying laws, but bad laws begin to crop up in this category. The states are: Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.

Ten states are in the category “Building Equality”

These states have taken steps toward more robust LGBT equality, including passing basic non-discrimination and hate crimes laws. They allow gender markers to be changed on official documents, but have few protections for transgender health care. Some lack explicit gender identity protections, and several lack comprehensive anti-bullying laws. Bad laws are more common, so advocates work to stop bills that undermine LGBT equality, and to pass more comprehensive non-discrimination laws. The states are: Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Twenty-eight states are in the lowest-rated category “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality”

Most of these states, including Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, and Florida, have many laws that undermine LGBT equality, from those that criminalize HIV and sodomy, to measures allowing religious-based discrimination against LGBT people. None have non-discrimination laws that explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity protections; few have hate crime laws with those protections. LGBT advocates largely work to kill bad bills and pass municipal protections for LGBT people.

“While it’s gratifying to see California again ranked among the best of states in terms of LGBT equality, the State Equality Index also highlights a number of gaps that remain in the laws that protect our community,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “California is still one of the few states that does not mandate schools to have suicide presentation programs, an important goal to increase LGBT acceptance and reduce high LGBT dropout rates. Although the state of California adopted AB 959, which for the first time required data collection regarding sexual orientation and gender identity by certain California health and social services agencies, there is more work to be done in this area. Equality California is preparing a robust legislative agenda that addresses these deficiencies and that includes new, innovative legislation. One of these will be a bill to modernize HIV criminal laws that stigmatize and discriminate against people living with HIV.”

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every state, is available online at

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Pilot training program to improve transgender competency among medical staff in an urban clinic Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:42:22 +0000 Transgender HealthNEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.—The widespread discrimination and mistreatment transgender individuals face in the healthcare system could be alleviated with specialized provider training to increase knowledge about transgender health and needs, and to promote positive attitudes. The evaluation of a pilot training program implemented in an urban clinic shows the potential to change attitudes and improve competency, as reported in a study published in Transgender Health, a new peer-reviewed open access journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available open access on the Transgender Health Web site.

Corina Lelutiu-Weinberger, PhD, Hunter College of the City University of New York, and coauthors developed and delivered three 2-hour training sessions to the staff of New York City-based outpatient clinics serving primarily individuals of color and low socioeconomic status. A comparison of pre-training and post-training scores showed significant changes in attitudes toward transgender individuals, transgender-related clinical skills, awareness of transphobic practices, and readiness to serve transgender patients. The researchers describe the scope of the competency training provided in the article “Implementation and Evaluation of a Pilot Training to Improve Transgender Competency Among Medical Staff in an Urban Clinic.”

“Studies such as this are an important academic contribution to the transgender health literature,” says Editor-in-Chief Robert Garofalo MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Director, Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “There are limited interventions in the published literature aimed at training healthcare providers and improving healthcare outcomes for transgender people. Pilot studies and programs such as these developed by this NY-based team can hopefully be the first steps in a broader movement educating providers about transgender health issues and improving access to care.”

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APLA Health & Wellness open new Long Beach Health Center Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:30:05 +0000 Long BeachLONG BEACH, Calif.—APLA Health & Wellness have announced the opening of their Long Beach Health Center, located at 1043 Elm Ave. on the St. Mary Medical Center campus. The new health center currently provides services for free or on a low-cost, sliding-fee scale, including:

  • Primary medical care
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) counseling and management
  • HIV testing and STD screening and treatment
  • Health insurance enrollment assistance

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration selected APLA Health & Wellness through a nationally competitive application process to receive a $650,000 grant to open and operate the new health center.

“Providing excellent culturally competent care is a community effort, and we are working with other key partners, including service providers, the Long Beach Health Department, and elected officials to expand access to these critically needed services,” APLA Health & Wellness CEO Craig E. Thompson says.

The new Long Beach Health Center currently includes an exam room and a treatment room, as well as office space for staff. A second phase of construction scheduled to be completed in March adds a laboratory and phlebotomy room, counseling rooms, a full reception area for patients, additional office space, and new rest rooms. A final phase of construction this spring will add a four-chair dental clinic and additional medical exam rooms.

When fully operational, the Long Beach Health Center will encompass 7,000 square feet of space and will have the capacity to serve more than 5,000 patients per year.

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HuffPost Gay Voices changes its name to HuffPost Queer Voices Wed, 03 Feb 2016 00:10:22 +0000 Today, The Huffington Post announced the relaunch of HuffPost Gay Voices as HuffPost Queer Voices. 

Gay Voices originally launched in 2011, but as Noah Michelson, editorial director of Queer Voices states, “A lot has changed since then from marriage equality sweeping the nation and parts of the world to Laverne Cox gracing the cover of Time magazine to Miley Cyrus coming out as pansexual — and we believe that this is an especially critical time for queer people and the queer movement to regroup and redefine its mission in the wake of these incredible, once unimaginable changes to the political and cultural landscape.”

Michelson continues, “We, like many others before us, have chosen to reclaim “queer” and to rename the section HuffPost Queer Voices because we believe that word is the most inclusive and empowering one available to us to speak to and about the community — and because we are inspired by all of the profound possibilities it holds for self-discovery, self-realization and self-affirmation. We also revere its emphasis on intersectionality, which aids in creating, building and sustaining community while striving to bring about the liberation of all marginalized people, queer or not.”

Read Michelson’s full post here, and congrats to the HuffPost Queer Voices editorial team.






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Release of internal documents show greed driving Shkreli’s push for Turing’s massive price increase for Daraprim Tue, 02 Feb 2016 22:28:46 +0000 Today the House Oversight Committee released a series of astonishing internal documents revealing the greed behind former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli’s decision to increase by 5,000 percent the cost of the life-saving drug Daraprim.

Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli

Daraprim is a crucial treatment for many pregnant women and people living with HIV. Last fall, then-Turing CEO Martin Shkreli acquired the rights to the drug and subsequently raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per dose overnight.

Shkreli, who resigned from Turing after coming under investigation for securities fraud, is scheduled to appear Thursday before the House Oversight Committee to face questioning about drug pricing. He has asserted that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

But the documents released today provide “a rare, inside look at the motivations and tactics of drug company executives,” said Democratic Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the committee’s ranking member. “They confirm what Americans across the country have experienced firsthand for years — that many drug companies are lining their pockets at the expense of some of the most vulnerable families in our nation.”

Highlights include:

  • May, 27, 2015, Shkreli emails Turing board chairman in response to progress being made in acquiring Daraprim: “Very good. Nice work as usual. $1b here we come.”
  • August 27, 2015, Shkreli emails an outside contact about anticipated profits from Daraprim price hike: “I think it will be huge….So 5,000 paying bottles at the new price is $375,000,000–almost all of it is profit and I think we will get 3 years of that or more.”
  • September 17, 2015, Tina Ghorban, a Turing executive, forwards in an email news of a single purchase for 96 bottles of Daraprim at $75,000 per bottle: “Another $7.2 million. Pow!”

Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued the following statement: “Turing’s internal memos prove the company put profits over the well-being of patients with life-threatening health conditions and treated the entire controversy as a public relations problem. Their lack of transparency in drug pricing and Martin Shkreli’s thirst for revenues led the company to force patients and payers to bear an unconscionable cost burden. Congress must take steps to ensure access to essential treatments is prioritized over price-gouging profiteering.”

Shkreli resigned from Turing in December, a day after he was arrested by the FBI amid a federal investigation involving his former hedge fund and another pharmaceutical company he previously headed. Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Ron Tilles continues to resist restoring the drug to its original price.

HRC continues its call to get to the bottom of whether Turing and Shkreli violated antitrust laws by limiting distribution of a drug that is essential to the lives of medically vulnerable people, including those living with HIV and pregnant women.

Last fall, at HRC’s urging, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began investigating whether Turing Pharmaceuticals may have violated antitrust laws by limiting distribution of the drug. HRC also sent letters to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, seeking an investigation into the unconscionable action of Turing Pharmaceuticals.



Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following statement:

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Non-discrimination bill dead in Indiana Senate Tue, 02 Feb 2016 22:08:20 +0000 The non-discrimination bill, SB 344, will not advance in the Indiana Senate. Although it was previously scheduled for a second hearing today, according to the bill’s author, the legislation will not be considered and will therefore fail to meet the required deadline this year. The  legislation was an attempt to address the damning evidence that continues to emerge from the destruction caused to Indiana’s economy by Gov. Pence’s discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) last year, but the Senate had every opportunity to amend the bill to provide real protections for LGBT Hoosiers.

“Indiana lawmakers must move forward legislation this session that would truly safeguard LGBT Hoosiers and visitors from discrimination,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for Policy and Political Affairs. “These lawmakers cannot ignore their responsibility to move Indiana beyond the continuing damage they inflicted on the state last year with an anti-LGBT RFRA. Fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections are what the state desperately needs and what LGBT Hoosiers and visitors deserve.”

Thinly veiled as an attempt to allow discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers to continue while trying to mitigate the tremendous economic damage inflicted on the state from Gov. Pence’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the bill claimed to provide non-discrimination protections but unacceptably left behind transgender Hoosiers, included dangerously broad religious refusal exemptions, undermined existing protections for race and religion, explicitly permitted taxpayer-funded discrimination in adoption agencies, and would have stripped away the authority of local municipalities to pass fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were prepared to offer multiple amendments to the bill, including one that would have corrected the entire piece of deeply flawed legislation by removing all of the language, replacing it with the state’s current civil rights law, and simply adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected categories.

By failing to address the need for real non-discrimination protections, lawmakers are ignoring the damning evidence that continues to emerge from the destruction caused to Indiana’s economy with Gov. Pence’s discriminatory RFRA fight last year. A recent survey from Visit Indy revealed that Indiana lost as much as $60 million in convention-related revenue alone because of the discriminatory law. As reported by the Associated Press, “12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial religious objections law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere.” The Indianapolis Star recently reported on a new poll that shows economic and reputational damage still looms from last year’s debacle, especially in the tourism industry. In an additional survey, Indianapolis was rated the second worst convention city in the nation for “bad publicity that might deter meeting planners from picking a city.” Following the catastrophe last spring, HRC released a case study last April of the damage Gov. Pence and anti-LGBT lawmakers caused in their push for the discriminatory law. In a poll conducted by HRC, a stunning 75 percent of Hoosiers reported that the law damaged Indiana’s business climate.

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Adele: Trump cannot use my music Mon, 01 Feb 2016 23:33:40 +0000 Adele has made it clear that she does not want to be associated with GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

According to a CNN Wire report Adele’s “Skyfall” is part of the Republican’s pre-rally playlist and Trump has also taken the stage recently to the Grammy Award-winning artist’s hit “Rolling in the Deep.” But she never gave the brash billionaire permission to do so.

“Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning,” an Adele spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.

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GOP frontrunners close out Iowa with fresh attacks on LGBT people Mon, 01 Feb 2016 21:43:00 +0000 Trump Cruz RubioWhichever GOP candidate emerges as the winner of tonight’s Iowa caucuses, they spell danger for LGBT equality. In the final days of the race for Iowa, each of the GOP frontrunners — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — have launched fresh attacks on LGBT people in a last-ditch effort to score conservative cred and push them over the top.

Yesterday, the thrice-married Donald Trump threatened marriage rights for LGBT couples, pledging to appoint justices who would reverse last June’s Supreme Court decision.

Meanwhile, at a Sunday Cruz campaign rally, LGBT couples’ marriages were disparaged as “evil”— a characterization that neither the Rubio or Trump campaigns refuted when given the opportunity on CNN.

Rubio — who has previously committed to appointing justices to overturn Obergefell — rounds out the trio with his recent declaration in Waverly, Iowa in defense of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, saying “I don’t agree it opened up discrimination” when describing Pence’s “right to discriminate” bill that was rejected by Hoosiers. Rubio went on to say businesses should be able to refuse service to LGBT people for religious reasons. Last weekend in Cedar Rapids, he also doubled down on a promise to repeal President Obama’s Executive Order protecting LGBT workers.

“The branding on the outside might be slightly different, but these candidates are all campaigning on a promise to block and reverse gains toward LGBT equality,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “Cruz, Trump, Rubio and others have put on a desperate display attacking LGBT people in the race to the finish line. But they’ll soon wake up to the reality that they have put themselves against the overwhelming majority of Americans — and Iowa voters — who support full LGBT equality.”

Polling done by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for HRC shows that a 55 percent majority of voters are less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes allowing same-sex couples to marry. This majority includes Independents, married women and white millennials. All of these groups voted Republican in the last congressional election. Meanwhile, Public Religion Research Institute has reported that a 57 percent majority of Iowans support marriage equality.

The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed Hillary Clinton and has begun organizing members and supporters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina ahead of the upcoming caucus and primary elections.

All together, eight candidates — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee — have shown support for the discriminatory First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) — or similar legislation — to open up broad loopholes and put LGBT Americans at risk for Kim Davis-like discrimination in their daily lives.

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Watch: SDMT’s ‘Ragtime’ rehearsal room interviews Mon, 01 Feb 2016 21:26:43 +0000

San Diego Musical Theatre takes us ‘behind the curtain’ for some rehearsal room interviews with the cast of Ragtime. Watch as the cast speak passionately about the production and the relevance this story has for today.

Ragtime is a sweeping musical portrait of early 20th century America telling the story of three families in the pursuit of the American Dream. Called by Time magazine “A triumph for the stage,” and by the International Herald Tribune “the best musical in twenty years,” this acclaimed musical is filled with pageantry, emotion and hope, bursting onto the stage like no other musical.

Ragtime opens this Friday and runs through Feb. 21. at the Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego. For tickets go here.



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Duck Dynasty star: Same sex marriage is ‘evil’ Mon, 01 Feb 2016 20:57:32 +0000

In a bid to woo the evangelical vote Ted Cruz wheeled out Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Sunday, to warm up the crowd ahead of his address. CNN Wire reported that Robertson made a forceful case to voters that the Texas senator could restore the U.S. to biblical principles and called gay marriage “evil” and “wicked.”

“Ted Cruz loves God, he loves James Madison and he’s a strict constitutionalist. You know what Ted Cruz understands,” Robertson said. “God raises these empires up. It is God who brings them down.”

Robertson is no stranger to such rhetoric and was once kicked off his show, albeit briefly, for making racist and  homophobic remarks.

On stage, Cruz praised Robertson and his “voice of truth.”

“What a voice Phil has to speak out for the love of Jesus,” Cruz said. “What a joyful, cheerful, unapologetic voice of truth Phil Robertson is.”

Watch Robertson speaking above.


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New report connects religious exemptions from LGBT equality to historic efforts to deny civil rights Mon, 01 Feb 2016 19:49:44 +0000 Report 2ATLANTA – Today, The Leadership Conference Education Fund will release its report, Striking a Balance: Advancing Civil and Human Rights While Preserving Religious Liberty, documenting how the religious arguments commonly used today against LGBT equality have been used to oppose the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage and equality, racial integration, inter-racial marriage, immigration, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the right to collectively bargain. Striking a Balance also examines the current legal and political landscape in which religious exemptions are being used to deny civil and human rights, including LGBT equality.

“For as long as people have demanded freedom, dignity, and equality under the law, many arguments to deny these rights have been wrapped in a false flag of religious liberty,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “Religious liberty is a sacred American ideal, not a cynical strategy to oppose LGBT equality, the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, inter-racial marriage, or the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The recognition of marriage equality for same-sex couples has spurred a fresh wave of state and federal legislation to sanction discrimination by individuals and businesses as a matter of religious freedom. Striking a Balance puts these bills in historical context, noting that similar arguments were made to undermine the implementation of landmark civil rights cases like Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia, and legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The report will be released today at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights LGBT Institute in Atlanta, Georgia with an event to include diverse national and Georgia community advocates representing African Americans, Latinos, women, the LGBT community, and people of faith.  More than half a dozen religious exemption bills have been filed in Georgia and these communities are standing together to oppose the use of religion as a justification to discriminate.

Click here to download a PDF of the report.

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Defense Department proposes rule change to provide medical benefits for transgender troops and military dependents Mon, 01 Feb 2016 19:37:51 +0000 WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has proposed a new rule change that will lift the “regulatory prohibition that categorically excludes all treatment of gender dysphoria,” thereby extending crucially needed medical care to transgender service members, veterans, and military family members covered under Tricare. The proposed change would not include surgical care which remains prohibited by statute at 10 U.S.C. 1079(a)(11), but would cover care such as hormone replacement therapy.

“All service members, veterans, and military dependents, no matter their gender identity, deserve access to the medical care they’ve earned serving our great nation,” said American Military Partner Association (AMPA) President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “This proposed rule change from the Department of Defense would be an incredibly important step in the right direction to help ensure our transgender service members, veterans, and family members finally receive the crucial medical care they need. As we await a decision from the Secretary of Defense on whether to lift the ban on transgender troops serving openly and honestly, this news is definitely encouraging.”

The news comes as the Secretary of Defense is set to announce his decision by this spring on whether to lift the ban on transgender service members by updating the outdated regulations which prevent them from serving openly and honestly.

In March of last year, AMPA launched an unprecedented joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the tremendous harm the outdated regulations inflict on military families. The report notes, “The outdated regulations serve no purpose and only dehumanize and prevent qualified and capable individuals from enlisting and serving. The ban perpetuates trauma to all those involved, both the service member and their family.”

In June of 2015, the American Medical Association approved a resolution saying there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.”

There are an estimated 15,500 transgender service members currently serving in silence.

For more information about the American Military Partner Association and LGBT military families, please visit our home on the web at

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Expanded HIV testing hours at The Center! Mon, 01 Feb 2016 19:26:54 +0000 Free HIV testing is now available at The Center at the following times.

MondayFriday: 9am-9pm (last test at 8pm)
Saturday: 10am-2pm (last test at 1pm)
Friday Only
Early Test: 12 noon-4pm (last test at 3pm)
Couples Testing: 4pm-9pm (last test at 8pm)

Both anonymous and confidential testing are available. With an anonymous test, medical staff will not know your name. You will be known by a number given to you. With confidential testing, you use your name but your identity is protected by law. Appointments are available by calling 619.692.2077 x0. Walk-ins are welcome.

For more information go here.

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Watch: Florida driver offended by ‘GAY’ license plate issued by DMV Mon, 01 Feb 2016 02:00:39 +0000 WFTV reports that Craig Lukas bought a new Volvo with his partner at a Winter Park dealership three weeks ago, but has left it in his garage because of what it says on his license plate.

“Plenty of combinations out there the state could have used,” Lukas said. “Oversight on state as far as I’m concerned.”

Lukas believes the plate is slightly offensive and said state officials should be more sensitive.Lukas said the dealership tried to get his car another one, but that every plate they had had the word “GAY” on it.

The dealership said as soon as it realized what the plates said, that it returned them to the county.

Watch the WFTV report above.

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GMCLA teaches young LGBT Hoosiers that it does indeed get better Sun, 31 Jan 2016 20:00:09 +0000 GMCLA It Gets BetterINDIANAPOLIS As Indiana’s GOP-led Senate Rules Committee once again moved to advance anti-LGBT legislation this week, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) is at the heart of the Hoosier State bringing its message of hope and inclusiveness to LGBTQ youth.

Through its “It Gets Better” tour, GMCLA, in collaboration with the It Gets Better Project and Speak Theater Arts, hopes to show young LGBTQ Hoosiers that despite the reprehensible and discriminatory bills targeting them in their own state, it does in fact get better.

Presented by Clowes Hall at Butler University, with underwriting tour support from AT&T, Southwest Airlines and Foresters Financial, the tour has traveled the country over the past three years producing weeks of educational content, including workshops, bookended by moving and empowering stage shows highlighting poignant real-life stories from other LGTBQ youth and powerful musical numbers from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles that have brought people to laughter and tears.

The “It Gets Better” tour is currently in the state’s capital of Indianapolis, appearing at Butler University’s Clowes Memorial Hall, tomorrow evening (Saturday, Jan. 30) at 8 p.m.

Coincidentally enough, the tour had originally been scheduled to come to the state this week after being asked to bring it to Indiana following last year’s controversial passing of Indiana Senate Bill 101, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R).

And while the tour has been traveling the state this past week presenting at high schools in Beech Grove and Indianapolis, state lawmakers were once again convening over advancing even more discriminatory legislation against LGBTQ citizens, this time focusing particularly on transgender individuals.

“Our performance tomorrow night features the extraordinary story of Jay, a transgender man, who has become a hero to many of us,” said Chris Verdugo, executive director of GMCLA. “It tells of Jay’s struggle, his attempt at suicide, his acceptance of his true gender and how through pain and joy, it has gotten better for him, his wife, his children and how he pays it forward. That’s empowerment!”

He continues, “I’m honored and grateful to be part of the transformative outreach we accomplish at GMCLA. We’re not just touching and transforming lives, we’re changing the future. Together we can be the bright light that illuminates the path of hope and love.”

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EQCA to sponsor new legislation to expand equal restroom access in California Sun, 31 Jan 2016 15:00:04 +0000 Phil Ting

Phil Ting

SAN FRANCISCO – Equality California announced Friday that it is sponsoring legislation, authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), that would establish the nation’s most progressive restroom access law.  AB 1732, the Equal Restroom Access Act, would require single-occupancy restrooms in California businesses, government buildings, and public spaces to be identified as “all gender.”

“Restrooms are a necessity of life.  Access to them influences our ability to participate in public life,” said Ting.  “Signs restricting single-use restroom access by gender create problems of convenience, fairness, and safety.  They defy common sense, which is why many of us ignore them.  ‘All gender’ signs will end these problems and ensure everyone’s rights are protected.”

“Having access to a restroom without restrictions based on one’s gender identity simply makes sense,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), a principal co-author of the bill.  “All gender restrooms will enhance dignity and safety for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in their daily lives.”

Sponsored by Equality California and supported by the Transgender Law Center, California NOW and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, AB 1732 would align state law with similar restroom access laws emerging in the cities of Oakland, Denver, Boston, and Philadelphia.

“This bill will greatly enhance the safety of and increase options for transgender people, who are often harassed or threatened in public, multi-stall restrooms, but the benefits would truly extend to virtually everyone,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California.  “Everyone at one point or another will benefit from this bill – including nursing mothers, parents with an opposite-sex child, the elderly and people with medical conditions with an opposite-sex caregiver.  And this bill will not impose any real costs on businesses or governments – it merely requires that single use restrooms be made available to everyone.  The cost quite literally is no more than a new plastic sign.”

“All Californians should have the same freedom to participate in public life, go about their day, and use the bathroom when they need it,” said Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center.  “By making single-user restrooms accessible to all genders, this law will make life easier for everyone and reduce the harassment regularly experienced by transgender people and others who don’t match people’s stereotypes of what it looks like to be a man or a woman.”

“When nature calls, women frequently have to wait,” said Jerilyn Stapleton, President of California NOW.  “We shouldn’t have to wait or postpone having our needs fairly met in public.  Everyone should experience equal waiting time.  We have universal bathroom access at home and on airplanes so why not require it in public buildings?”

“Hospitality is all about accommodation and making people feel comfortable and welcome,” said Samantha Higgins, Policy and Community Manager of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.  “This legislation just makes sense.”

Legislation pending in the New York State Legislature would require a “gender neutral” designation for all single-use bathrooms in state owned or operated buildings.  Vermont’s state legislature has legislation pending to require newly constructed or renovated state buildings to include “gender neutral” restrooms.  In contrast, a pending bill in Indiana would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly enter a single-use restroom of the opposite sex.

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ShortsHD open ‘The Oscar® Nominated Short Films 2016’ in theaters across the US Sun, 31 Jan 2016 02:00:30 +0000 ShortsHDLOS ANGELES, Calif. — ShortsHD™, the only Short Film Channel (, working with Magnolia Pictures, opened “THE OSCAR® NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2016” on over 400 screens across the United States, Canada, Europe and Latin America Friday. “THE OSCAR® NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2016” will showcase the Live Action, Animation and Documentary short film nominees compilation as three separate theatrical events.

This marks the 11th year of the Oscar® nominated short films theatrical experience and is the only opportunity for audiences to watch the nominated short films prior to the 88th Academy Awards® ceremony Sunday, Feb. 28.

In 2015, the Oscar® Nominated Short Films earned over $2.4 million worldwide, nearly doubling from just a few years prior.  One of the most diverse categories in Academy consideration, this year’s Oscar® Nominated Short Films feature projects originating from United States, France, Germany, Palestine, United Kingdom, Kosovo, Austria, Chile, Russia, Liberia, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Canada.

“Films make us laugh and cry; they inform us, entertain us and make us think.  Short film is like film on steroids.  For talent, short film vastly expands opportunities, provides an incredible forum for experimentation and creates a pathway for further success.  For viewers, short film offers an abundance of dynamic stories, which are told in ways that they cannot be or are not being told in feature film, including films that may be uniquely relevant to their cultures. As the short film genre continues to pick up in popularity and competitiveness, with it comes an increase in the quality of production and diversity of voices ” said Carter Pilcher, chief executive at ShortsHD, the TV network behind the annual theatrical compilations.

For a sneak peak at The Oscar® Nominated Short Films 2016 program,  visit:

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Bob Harper of ‘The Biggest Loser’ to be honored at HRC’s national Time to THRIVE conference Sat, 30 Jan 2016 20:00:21 +0000 Bob Harper

Bob Harper

WASHINGTON – Friday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation announced that celebrity trainer and best-selling author Bob Harper, best known for his role on NBC’s hit show The Biggest Loser, will be honored at HRC’s national Time to THRIVE conference in February.

The HRC Foundation also announced that featured speakers at the third annual event, scheduled for February 12-14 near Dallas, include Brendan Jordan, a YouTube star who has become an inspiration and role model for LGBTQ youth around the world.

Other Time to THRIVE speakers and honorees previously announced include Emmy Award-winning John Quiñones, anchor of ABC’s powerful What Would You Do? news magazine; Secretary Julián Castro, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); activists Dennis and Judy Shepard; Betty DeGeneres, mother of Ellen DeGeneres; Jane Clementi of the Tyler Clementi Foundation; Jim Obergefell, one of the many courageous plaintiffs at the forefront of last June’s Supreme Court marriage equality ruling; transgender teen Jazz Jennings, an HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador featured in the TLC reality program I Am Jazz; New Jersey High School History Teacher, Nicholas Ferroni; and Andreja Pejić, the first transgender model featured in American Vogue. David Hernandez, a finalist from season seven of American Idol, will provide entertainment during the conference.

HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE conference is held in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association.

“We are thrilled to honor Bob Harper with our Upstander Award for the untold number of LGBTQ youth he has helped by coming out publicly on The Biggest Loser in 2013 — not only providing personal support to an LGBTQ contestant on the show, but also serving as a role model for so many others,” said Vincent Pompei, chair of Time to THRIVE and director of the HRC Foundation’s Youth Well-Being Project. “He has used his unique perch to literally change the lives and expectations of LGBTQ people.”

As trainer for 16 seasons on The Biggest Loser, and now a host, Harper is also one of the most in-demand fitness specialists worldwide, recently working with First Lady Michelle Obama on her Let’s Move campaign. He’s a three-time New York Times bestselling author and a sought-after speaker who motivates people to change their lives for the better.

“In addition to Bob Harper, we are also excited and privileged to have Brendan Jordan join our lineup of stellar speakers who are dedicated to helping all youth, and who demonstrate every day to LGBTQ youth that anything is possible for them — from starring in a reality show raising awareness about transgender youth and appearing on the pages of major fashion magazines, to changing laws to make our country more fully LGBTQ-inclusive,” Pompei said.

Brendan Jordan, 16, continues to inspire LGBTQ youth with what has been aptly described as his “be yourself” spirit, and infectious sense of humor. Since a video of him dancing in the background during a local newscast went viral, he’s appeared on programs including The Queen Latifah Show, and his YouTube videos can garner millions of views. A video he posted at Thanksgiving features his interview with his supportive grandparents from Des Moines.

The Time to THRIVE conference features 72 workshops by more than 45 national and grassroots organizations dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ youth. Special conference guests and additional speakers include Marsha Aizumi, author, educator and LGBTQ advocate, and Dr. Beverly Hutton, Deputy Executive Director of Programs and Services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Time to THRIVE is the premier national convening of educators and youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts and national organizations in the field.  Time to THRIVE will take place over Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 12-14, 2016, with AT&T and BBVA Compass as the presenting sponsors. To register, visit

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EIU set to fail LGBT community unless Internet domain-naming authority intervenes Sat, 30 Jan 2016 15:00:42 +0000 dotGayNEW YORK, N.Y. — With claims from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that the word ‘GAY’ is “not a well-known abbreviation for the community of LGBTQIA people,” the international organization responsible for maintaining the Internet’s global domain system has denied dotgay LLC’s community application proposal to operate the .GAY top-level domain (TLD).

Lexus Nexus search, Google search, global community supporters, and common sense point to GAY as the best-known abbreviation for the community of LGBTQIA people around the world. Yet in October 2015, despite support from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and hundreds of other community organizations, dotgay LLC received a failing score on a community evaluation performed by the EIU.

The EIU, contracted by ICANN to perform the community evaluations, chose to “elevate the level of this evaluation to interrogation” and disrespect the expertise, desires and efforts of the gay community. dotgay LLC’s application was the only one of four for .GAY that was designed and supported by the global gay community. Passing the community evaluation would avoid the extortionist-like price tag expected of the community to secure .GAY at auction. The EIU’s actions contradict all common sense and are being interpreted as the outcome of a hostile environment.

In contrast to the scrutiny dotgay LLC has experienced, the EIU has readily approved broadly defined community applications for .HOTEL, .SPA, .ECO and others. For example, the EIU validated a definition of the hotel community as “establishments with services and additional facilities where accommodation and in most cases meals are available.” Unsettling is that dotgay LLC was penalized for specifically including segments like Transgender within the definition of the gay community.

What is clear is that the EIU itself has over-reached. The EIU has subjected the .GAY application to intense review and dismissed the reality of GAY as a commonly known term, used broadly by the world’s population and the community itself. In doing so the EIU is simultaneously disregarding the power and global recognition of the umbrella term GAY, ignoring references to telling examples like Gay Rights, Gay Marriage and anti-Gay laws. The term GAY in these examples does not distinguish between the LGB and the TQIA as the EIU has suggested.

“We are poised to suffer a great loss that the gay community cannot recover from if ICANN allows the EIU decision to stand,” says dotgay LLC founder Scott Seitz. “That kind of loss, from this type of discrimination, equates to a setback with Internet equality for the gay community.”

This battle is essential and not just a “nice to have” battle. Achieving a community-operated .GAY establishes important and equal access to Internet commerce. As Internet sales remain among the fastest growing segments of a country’s gross domestic product, LGBTQI and our allies will lose a potentially powerful resource.

“For example, the EU estimated that their GDP from Internet-based commerce would be 11% ($37.8 billion US) in 2015,” says Seitz. “And in order for the gay community to be fully engaged in the social and economic benefits being generated from the Internet, it must participate in the overall operations and policy development of the Domain Name System (DNS). TLD ownership facilitates this. Commercial or corporate entities have no stake in supporting community efforts.”

No Comparable Competitors for Coveted TLD

“The limited liability company (LLC) with a 501c3 foundation arm, submitted its $185,000 application in June 2012 and is vying against well-financed corporate competitors and ‘domain speculators’ for operation rights of the coveted .GAY TLD,” says Seitz who stresses that the process has been fueled by spurious claims ignited by competitors.

Competitive efforts, known as ‘Standard’ applications, have no obligation to network, link or include the community in their proposal planning. Conversely, the dotgay LLC application has incorporated the knowledge, experience and leadership of the community throughout the application design and into future development and operation of the TLD. The dotgay community mission is focused on addressing key issues related to safety, visibility and support for the gay community.

“We’re the only Certified LGBT Business Enterprise bidding for any domain at ICANN. It’s vital that .GAY is a part of the community because owning a TLD gives the gay community a place at the table for Internet visibility, commerce and governance,” says Seitz.

dotgay LLC operations will be a hybrid non-profit that is run on a business model, with the LLC contributing 67% of the profits from domain name sales to its 501c3 foundation being governed by a community board.

Widespread LGBTQIA Support for Initiative

By applying the criteria differently to dotgay LLC’s application, the EIU is holding the gay community to a different standard than other community applications and presenting a biased opinion that the Trans and Intersex communities cannot or should not ever identify with the LGB under the gay umbrella. The EIU is ignoring the hard-fought efforts of the 250+ organizations with LGBTQIA stakeholders that supported the initiative, and who are prominent advocates advancing gay rights.

Community Call to Action

ICANN’s Board Governance Committee is currently reviewing dotgay LLC’s reconsideration request that challenges the methods employed by the EIU when determining that the word GAY is not a well-known abbreviation for the community of LGBTQIA. It is clear that the EIU’s decision contradicts common sense and even threatens the gay community’s ability to take ownership of the coveted .GAY TLD.  For years, people have found ways to argue away our rights, discredit our community and keep us from opportunity. We must not let that happen on the Internet as well.

A decision is expected by early February 2016.

Get vocal on your social media channels using the hashtag #Yes2dotgay to raise awareness with a simple message like; Say NO to unfair & unequal treatment of the gay community at the hands of @TheEIU #Yes2dotgay

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New poll shows most Germans ready to support marriage equality Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:41:30 +0000 According to a new poll, the majority of Germans are ready for same-sex marriage to be the law of the land. The survey by YouGov published on Thursday shows over two-thirds of Germans want gay marriage to be legalized, reports The Local de.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union said they were for legalization and with support for marriage equality at over 60 percent  it suggests that the chancellor’s opposition to gay marriage is now out of step with her own voter base.

Slightly less than a quarter (24 percent) of respondents remained opposed to same-sex couples being given legal equality. Germany is currently one of the few countries in Western Europe without marriage rights for same-sex couples.


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Bob Filner’s former chief of staff to release book Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:24:16 +0000 Lee Burdick

Lee Burdick

SAN DIEGO – An attorney and powerful woman in her own right, Lee Burdick thought she had seen, heard and litigated everything; but nothing could have prepared her for the political firestorm that exploded during her nine-month tenure as a key member of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s team. Her meteoric rise in the mayor’s office included seven months as his director of special projects and legal affairs, 10 days as deputy chief of staff and just under two months as his chief of staff and tracked Filner’s self-inflicted implosion leading to his resignation in August 2013.

In Bob Filner’s Monster, The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn from It, available for purchase Feb. 8, Burdick shares her insider perspective and writes of her experience, insights and feelings during that period.

MonsterShe recounts her mixed emotions as she gave up a position on the San Diego Port Commission to join the staff of the city’s first Democratic mayor since 1992, particularly given his abrasive reputation; her frustrations as the city attorney’s office under Jan Goldsmith continually clashed with the mayor, putting her front and center as the mayor’s chief legal adviser; and her own personal journey as the sex harassment allegations that led to Filner’s resignation and three criminal counts became clear to her.

Burdick also writes with admiration of the extraordinary courage of the women she worked alongside at city hall who came forward to shine a light on the mayor’s behavior toward them; Irene McCormack Jackson, who was the mayor’s communications director and the first woman to come forward, and Benelia Santos-Hunter, his former executive assistant who may have faced the most frequent and egregious harassment by Filner. Burdick writes of her own predicament, to stay or to go, and her ultimate decision to stay as his last chief of staff in order to try to bring some leadership and stability to the remaining two dozen staffers in the mayor’s office and to ensure that the people of San Diego continued to be served.

“This was a terrible chapter in many lives, mine included, and one that everyone in the City of San Diego might prefer to forget. By revisiting it and keeping the dialogue going, I hope to help eliminate sex harassment in the workplace, especially in our most powerful political offices,” says Burdick. “Stories of the sexual abuse of power continue to resurface around the country, in entertainment, business and politics; and what I realized from my experience is that these stories need to be heard.”

Burdick says she came to see why some women were slow to report their sex harassment because the risks of standing up to it still far exceeded any personal benefit. Ultimately, she came to understand that society needs to listen when women muster the courage to object to offensive and criminal sex harassment and other offenses against women. When the presumption of innocence applies to the accuser with the same vigor as to the accused, victimized women will feel freer to come forward sooner.

The book includes several revelations, one being that to Burdick’s surprise the mayor’s suite of offices, her own office and other private meeting areas had been bugged.

“I knew Lee long before she went to work for Bob Filner. She is a woman of tremendous integrity and professionalism. Her story about what happened from the inside of this scandal is worth the read for anyone interested in politics,” said San Diego Councilwoman Marti Emerald.

Bob Filner’s Monster, The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn from It will be available Feb. 8 in both hard copy and e-book formats through Amazon and other book sellers. Learn more at Prima Publishing Group at

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Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is now TWIST! Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:11:22 +0000 TwistAfter a successful 20th anniversary festival this past October, Three Dollar Bill Cinema has announced a name change for their iconic film event. This year, The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival becomes TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival.

The intention to change the name was announced by Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s Executive Director Jason Plourde on opening night of the 2015 fest, where he stated,

“After 20 years of producing an amazing festival, we felt it was time to give the event a more special, inclusive, and engaging name.”

The organization then launched a survey that garnered hundreds of responses and held numerous meetings with staff, board, and stakeholders. “We made sure to listen to many people and considered the extensive list of suggestions we received. It was important to make a well-informed, collaborative decision. We also enlisted our talented Design Director Corianton Hale to create a compelling visual identity that reflects the fun, inclusive nature of this festival.”

Explaining the name TWIST, Three Dollar Bill stated in a press release, “The word has film connotations: a physical filmstrip winding through a projector, or the elements of story structure such as a plot twist or an intriguing revelation.

“Moreover, “twist” evokes a festive, social, and celebratory spirit that is so often cited by Three Dollar Bill Cinema audiences and industry, who applaud the unique, appealing quality of the festival experience in Seattle.

“Additionally, “twist” connects with “queer” by suggesting something unique and off-center, an unexpected surprise to be discovered and revealed, beyond the usual norms and conventions. It transcends the traditional LGBTQ nomenclature to create something new and different—a little more daring and a lot more fun—and sets a tone and direction that reflects our distinct community.”

Says Plourde, “We heard from hundreds of people and held discussions to figure out what could capture the fun, unique, and cinematic qualities of our queer film festival. It became clear that TWIST captures our sensibility and will be more relevant and exciting to our audiences.”

The name change will be a continuation of the annual event – this Oct.r 13-23 will bring the 21st TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival. Explains Plourde, “We’re just bringing a new name and fresh attitude to our steadfast community event. Our fans can still expect the spectacular films, great parties, and creative programs we’ve produced all along.”

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