About 41 years ago, first openly gay elected official Harvey Milk made history after winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and 40 years ago Nov 27 – he was murdered.
“It’s not my victory, it’s yours and yours and yours,” Milk said after winning. “If a gay can win, it means there is hope that the system can work for all minorities if we fight. We’ve given them hope.”
Milk and the mayor of San Francisco at the time were gunned down at San Francisco City Hall the following year on November 27 by fellow board supervisor Dan White. Nearly half a century later, Milk is an LGBTQ idol, with a butterfly effect legacy, rippling into the current politics of today.
During his short time in office, he helped pass the country’s first gay rights ordinance, sparking the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement on the west coast. He also lead the front against Proposition 6 – a bill that would ban gay and lesbian identifying individuals from teaching in public schools. Milk is also greatly attributed to widespread representation of LGBTQ members in politics. The Rainbow Wave of this year’s midterms exemplifies this. The most recent elections not only say a record breaking number of queer people running for office, but won those positions as well. Voter turn out in the LGBTQ community was at a record high as well.
Not only did Milk lead the ay for LGBTQ representation in politics, but he was a dynamic politician with a multi-issue platform. Milk represented the underdog; those displaced by gentrification, racial and economic minorities, the hippies. His killer, White, represented the traditional working class Catholic families that felt threatened by the fringe groups gaining political traction.
“Dan White ran talking to people in his district about how he would work to rid San Francisco of social deviants,” Historian and author of “Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death” Lillian Faderman said, as reported by NBC News.
Milk expected such punitive reactions after his push for equal rights, though. After his death 40 years ago, a tape recording of Milk was released. He had created it before his death, with the instructions that it “be played only in the event of my death by assassination.”
“I fully realize that a person who stands for what I stand for, an activist, gay activist, becomes a target or the potential target for somebody who is insecure, terrified, afraid, or very disturbed themselves,” Milk said on his final tape. “Knowing that I could be assassinated at any moment or any time, I feel it’s important that some people know my thoughts.
“I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up and let that world know,” Milk said. “That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would imagine. I urge them to do that, urge them to come out. Only that way will we start to achieve our rights.
“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country,” Milk said on the tape recording.
Milk felt that the act of coming out – of telling one’s own truth – was so powerful because it eliminated fear.
“Harvey understood that the single most important political act anyone could take was simply to come out — to reveal their true nature to their friends, families and coworkers,” Milk’s former intern Cleve Jones said. “Harvey understood that that was important, because he understood that hatred of us was grounded in fear, and that that fear would evaporate once people could understand that in fact they had gay people in their families and in their congregations and in their neighborhoods.”
The transgender community is still one of the most targeted minorities in the United States. Not only are gender-nonconforming individuals being harassed and attacked on the streets, but the government is attempting to erase their entire identity out of existence.
With National Transgender Day of Remembrance coming up on November 20, the City of West Hollywood is planning a ceremony for the trans lives lost this year at Jeremy Hotel from 6 – 9 p.m. In total, there were 29 deaths of transgender people in the U.S. in 2017. So far, there has been a total of 22 deaths due to fatal violence.
• Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, 42, was found dead in her home on January 5, in North Adams, Massachusetts. Steele-Knudslien organized and produced the Miss Trans New England and other pageants, and was loved and known by many in both the local and national trans community.
• Viccky Gutierrez, 33, a transgender woman from Honduras was stabbed and had her body set ablaze inside her Los Angeles home on January 10. Friends described her as “a young trans Latina immigrant woman whose warm smile would give anyone comfort.”
• Celine Walker, 36, was fatally shot in a hotel room on on February 4 in Jacksonville, Florida. It was not known for several days that Walker was trans because local police claimed to not refer to victims as transgender. Investigators are still looking for a suspect in her death.
• Tonya Harvey, 35, was fatally shot on February 6 in Buffalo, New York. A friend of Harvey’s expressed her condolences on Facebook, writing: “I knew her since I started transitioning, she was so sweet and loving.” Police have confirmed they are looking into the incident as a possible hate crime.
• Zakaria Fry, 28, went missing in New Mexico in mid-January. Her body was later found 40 miles outside of Albuquerque on February 19. Albuquerque Police arrested and charged Charles Spiess with two open counts of murder. Fry’s loved ones shared comondolences on Facebook with one friend saying: “You were my older sister. You took care of me and loved me like family. I’ll forever love you. I’m sorry.”
• Phylicia Mitchell, 45, was shot and killed outside her home on February 23 in Cleveland, Ohio. On April 10, Cleveland.com reported that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Gary Sanders. Sanders was charged with aggravated murder in Mitchell’s death. Her longtime partner, Shane Mitchell, described her as “funny and kind” and that “everyone loved her.”
• Amia Tyrae Berryman, 28, was fatally shot at a local motel on March 26 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Few details are known about the crime, and police report they have no suspects or persons of interest at this time.
• Sasha Wall, 29, a transgender woman of color, was fatally shot on April 1 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. The FBI is assisting with local investigators, and are analyzing phone records and collecting DNA evidence. Donovan Dunlap, a friend of Wall’s, expressed condolences on Facebook, writing, “I will miss you my beautiful sister. I cannot sleep, I hope they find who did this.”
• Karla Patricia Flores-Pavón, 26, was found choked to death in her apartment in Dallas, Texas, on May 9. Dallas Police arrested 24-year-old Jimmy Eugene Johnson III on May 17, charging him with Flores-Pavón’s murder. “It hurts a lot, you were a good-hearted person. Sister, fly high. We will remember you with love. Your beautiful smile will stay with us,” a friend posted on her Facebook page.
• Nino Fortson, 36, was fatally shot in Atlanta on May 13. City police were nearby executing a traffic stop and rushed to the scene, but Forston later died at the hospital, said transgender advocate Monica Roberts.
• Gigi Pierce, 28, was fatally shot on May 21 in Portland, Oregon. When officers arrived they tried to administer aid, but Pierce died at the scene. Police investigators say they believe that Pierce was shot during an altercation with Sophia Adler, who has been charged with Pierce’s murder, according to KGW-TV.
• Antash’a English, 38, was fatally injured in drive-by shooting in Jacksonville, Florida on June 1. On her Facebook page, English described herself as an “independent” transgender woman who “thrives on being the best person” she can be. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has declared an active murder investigation and asks anyone with information to contact their office.
• Diamond Stephens, 39, was found shot to death on June 18 in Meridian, Mississippi. In interviews with a local television station, family members said that Stephens had an “incredible personality.” As is too often the case in the reporting of anti-transgender violence, Stephens was originally misgendered in local police statements and media reports, which delayed our awareness of this deadly incident.
• Cathalina Christina James, 24, was fatally shot in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 24. In an interview with First Coast News, James’ mother described her daughter as having a “big and bold” personality, saying she loved to dance and travel. James is the third transgender woman murdered and the fourth shot in the Florida city this year.
• Keisha Wells, 54, was found dead with a gunshot wound to her abdomen in the parking lot of an apartment complex on June 24, according to Cleveland.com. A longtime friend of Wells described her as “the nicest person ever” but also a “tough cookie.”
• Sasha Garden, 27, was found dead with signs of trauma in Orlando, Florida, early July 19. Originally from Wisconsin, Garden is remembered by loved ones as a “firecracker” who “didn’t hold anything back.” Friend and local transgender activist Mulan Montrese Williams recalls that Garden was a talented and aspiring hair stylist and had been saving money to fund her transition.
• Vontashia Bell, 18, was fatally shot on August 30 in a neighborhood of Shreveport, Lousiana. The Louisiana Trans Advocates organization released a statement condemning the shooting and calling on the city’s leaders to help curb the violence against the trans community.
• Dejanay Stanton, 24, was found with a fatal gunshot wound to the head on August 30, according to media reports. After an autopsy, her death was ruled a homicide and the investigation is ongoing. “Every time you saw her she had a smile on her face,” said LaSaia Wade, executive director of Brave Space Alliance. “She was just trying to live her best life as a young girl.”
• Shantee Tucker, 30, was found with a fatal gunshot wound in the back in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 5. Friends and family honored her life and mourned her death on Facebook, recalling that she was like “another big sister” to them and remembering her “beautiful spirit and fun aura.”
• Londonn Moore, 20, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in a remote area of North Port, Florida on Sept. 8. Moore is remembered by her family and other loved ones, who described her as “hilarious” and someone who “made everyone laugh all the time.”
• Nikki Enriquez, 28, was one of four women killed in Sept. in what local officials describe as a “serial killing spree” allegedly carried out by an intel supervisor for the U.S. Border Patrol. Enriquez, who also went by the name Janelle, is survived by numerous loved ones that were “sad and in disbelief” at her death. Cousin Veronica Castillo described her as a “very outgoing” person who loved to party and was beloved by the local LGBTQ community.
• Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier, 31, was fatally stabbed and her body left behind an abandoned building by a man with whom she was arguing on October 3 in Chicago. As reported in the Sun Times, Chicago police declared Frazier’s death a homicide after appearing on the scene. She is remembered by friends and loved ones, who said that she will “always be missed.”
The House and Senate are red. The Trump Administration is directly targeting the LGBTQ+ community on a weekly basis. Your. Vote. Matters.
With midterms just around the corner, it is not only important to vote, but be an informed voter as well. Democrats across the nation have seen a swell of LGBTQ+ candidates running for various positions.
“I think candidates are running because they see it’s possible,” Victory Fund President Annise Parker said. “They see the need for more LGBTQ candidates to get involved in the process. But they now see clear evidence that we can win at the very highest levels of government.” Victory Fund is agroup endorses viable LGBTQ candidates.
Currently, there are only six out LGBTQ House members and one lesbian senator. There will be at least 22 LGBTQ+ candidates on the ballot for House seats, several in highly competitive districts that will determine control of the House. Among the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red To Blue” candidates – those with a good chance at flipping a GOP-controlled House seat, as reported by NPR – is Katie Hill (D), running for the U.S. House of Representatives, CA-25.
In October, President Barack Obama endorsed Hill, who is bisexual, and 21 other openly LGBTQ-identifying candidates.
“President Obama is endorsing candidates who are passionate about public service and committed to making a positive difference in people’s lives, so it is unsurprising so many of our LGBTQ candidates are on the list,” Parker said. “The experiences and struggles of LGBTQ leaders make them authentic, values-driven candidates who understand the pain and difficulties so many are facing right now. We are part of every community and every constituency – women, people of color, immigrants and religious minorities – and that diversity strengthens and refines our perspectives. LGBTQ people are running for office in historic numbers not just because our community needs us, but because America needs us.”
According to Victory Fund data, a total of 430 openly LGBTQ+ candidates have run for office at every level of government this year. The Midterm Elections are on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The application process for the largest national LGBTQ+ scholarship program is opening next week.
On average, LGBTQ students accrue $16,000 more debt on than their heterosexual peers, according to a survey by StudentLoanHero.com.
Queer-identifying students enrolling in an undergraduate or graduate program for the 2019-2020 school year can can apply for a Point Foundation Scholarship, an L.A.-based organization that currently provides financial assistance to 97 students throughout the U.S.
Nearly a third of LGBTQ+ students report being discriminated against based on gender identity or sexual orientation when seeking financial assistance for higher education.
“Despite the constant attacks on our community, our LGBTQ young people are eager to develop the skills they need to fight back against discrimination and become the leaders our country so desperately needs,” Point Foundation Executive Director Jorge Valencia said. ”These students’ determination to create an equitable society that values and celebrates diversity needs to be – and can be – realized with our support.”
To receive a Point Foundation Scholarship, candidates must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership skills, community involvement and financial need. Attention is given to applicants who have experienced marginalization and/or are working to improve the lives of marginalized groups, particularly the LGBTQ community, according to a press release.
“I am bigger than the discrimination that threatens my black Trans existence every day,” said Nik Clark, a social work student at California State University. I am somebody. I’m a leader… I’m going to change the world by living authentically and unapologetically in my truth.”
Applications for the Point Foundation Scholarships open online November 1, 2018 at www.pointfoundation.org/apply.Students may submit their application until 11:59 p.m. PST January 28, 2019. The 2019 class of Point Foundation Scholarship recipients will be announced in June 2019 for LGBTQ Pride Month.
For many religious members of the LGBTQ+ community, accepting oneself can mean rejecting the Church. However, for Reverend Troy D. Perry, it simply meant there was an space to fill within the LGBTQ+ community with the word of God.And thus, the Metropolitan Community Church was born.
After being kicked out of his church in 1968 for coming out to his wife and clergy, Perry was at a loss.
“I felt like I had failed the Lord,” Perry said.
Yet, later that year he created a revolution within a revolution a year before Stonewall when he advertised in the Advocate magazine for a gathering in his home as a church service for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. This small gathering of 12 people quickly grew into multiple churches around the country and eventually the world.
“God spoke to me,” Perry said. “I was called to preach, and that is what I did.”
It was no easy path though. Despite fire bombings of its sanctuaries and murders of its clergy, Perry led a movement and expansion of the denomination to become one of the world’s largest LGBT organizations with hundreds of churches in countries around the world. Only two months after founding the church, he began conducting what is considered to be the first same-sex wedding ceremony in the United States.
50 years later, the Los Angeles LGBTQ community will honor Perry on the 50th anniversary of his founding the first welcoming spiritual home for LGBTQ people, with a Gala event to be held on October 6 at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles.
Perry is a renowned international LGBTQ human rights activist and a pioneer in social equality, legal protection and spiritual justice for LGBTQ people. From those early days in the struggle for LGBTQ acceptance, he led the first historic protests and marches throughout Los Angeles and around the U.S. He has continued to lead the way in building a worldwide movement and played a critical role in paving the way for marriage equality. He conceived the world’s first Gay Pride Parade and co-founded the Christopher Street West organization to launch the first LA PRIDE event in 1970. He most recently led a rousing call to action at the LA PRIDE 2017 Resist March.
“We refuse to go back to 1970,” Perry said. “We will resist all hate. As we chanted in 1970, ‘an army of lovers can never be defeated.’”
For more information regarding the celebration and gala event, contact John Boswell at 310.766.5868 or [email protected]
Photo: Courtesy Rev. Troy Perry. Rev. Troy Perry founded Metropolitan Community Church in his Huntington Park home 50 year ago.
Dust off your pink, purple and blue blue flags because it is Pride season again. Bi Pride, that is!
The City of West Hollywood, amBi LA and HRC LA is hosting the first city-wide Bi Pride celebration in the country on Saturday, Sept. 22 at the WeHo Park Auditorium.
The event will begin with a rally in front of the auditorium and continue with a Bi Visibility Walk through the heart of West Hollywood before culminating with a party back at the Auditorium. Artists include Torrey Mercer performing her new single Boys/Girls. L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence Kai Hazelwood who will be offering a chance to experience her project Story Time Silent Disco.
“While a small number of cities have issued proclamations recognizing Bi Visibility Day, this is a historic celebration as the first full-fledged Bi Pride celebration hosted by any U.S. city,” amBi President Ian Lawrence-Tourinho said.
Admission to the event is free. Free parking is available at the library parking structure on a first-come-first-served basis.
Promoting safety and acceptance, two laws that allow Californians to legally change their gender on IDs and birth certificates and simplify the process went into effect this month.
Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), authored Senate Bill 179, the Gender Recognition Act, and Senate Bill 310, the Name and Gender Act last year. Now, as they go into effect, he encourages residents to visit the California Courts’ online help center for assistance with the new streamlined procedures.
“Mindful of all the people I know who are gender-nonconforming, and the families I know with transgender children, I wanted to make sure that California continued to be a leader in gender-identity equality,” Atkins said. “For the individuals who want this, this is really about them being able to be recognized for who they are by their friends, their neighbors, and their government even.”
More than just recognition, the passing of these laws promote safety for gender-nonconforming individuals.
“Having appropriate ID is an issue of public safety for many trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people, who may be subject to discrimination, harassment and even violence when they’re forced to carry inaccurate or mismatched documents,” Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, said.
AB 179 simplifies the process for transgender, nonbinary and intersex people to obtain a gender or conforming name change on state-issued identity documents.
“When Governor Brown told me he had signed SB 179, it was one of the proudest moments of my career,” Atkins said as reported by MSNBC. “Mindful of all the people I know who are gender-nonconforming, and the families I know with transgender children, I wanted to make sure that California continued to be a leader in gender-identity equality. I am thrilled to see SB 179 and SB 310 implemented and grateful to our courts for their work to ensure a streamlined application process.”
Under the simplified processes SB 310 creates, people may change their gender markers to nonbinary (in addition to male or female) on state-issued identity documents by petitioning a gender and/or conforming name change through a judicial process or by revising their birth records.
“The new law also removes costly and outdated barriers to updated IDs and birth certificates that fell disproportionately on incarcerated trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people and those without access to affirming healthcare,” Hayashi said.
With the 10th Annual Gay Games celebration in Paris, France right around the corner, Southern California athletes in the LGBTQ+ community are gearing up to bring home the gold!
Most notable local participant, West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman will be running a half marathon and two 10ks.
“While we’ve made significant progress in advancing equality for LGBTIQ people in the U.S., progress has been much slower in other parts of the world,” Heilman said on his GoFundMe fundraising page. “In fact, homosexuality is still a crime in over 70 countries, and in some places, it is punishable by death.”
Heilman set a personal fundraising goal of $20,000 in order to establish a Global Emergency Fund with OutRight Action International. Heilman serves on the board of directors for OutRight.
Gay Games, according to the website, is the world’s largest LGBTQ+ sporting and cultural event, spans over the course of a week, from Aug. 4–12 this year. Gay Games is bringing together over 10,000 athletes and about 300,000 spectators from all over the world in the name of “diversity, respect, equality, solidarity and sharing,” according to the Gay Games website.
For Team San Diego organizer and participant David Silva said that Gay Games is about “the opportunity to show yourself, your country and the world that you are an athlete, an equal opportunist and proud contributor to one of the strongest communities on the planet.”
Team San Diego has 83 competitors and volunteers going to Gay Games. Participants will be competing in various events including: Long Distance Running, Track and Field, Bowling, Swimming, Tennis, Softball, Triathlon, Dance sport, Cycling, Soccer, Mountain Biking, Basketball, Figure Skating, and Table Tennis.
Jerry Buckley, the other Team San Diego organizer and competitor said that he hopes that athletes and spectators leave with a deeper understanding of how to be inclusive, supportive and proud.
“In addition, I hope people leave knowing that can and should continue to dream dreams that will enrich their lives and help them embrace challenges and opportunities to personally grow and make our community more understanding of how we can improve the lives of LGBTQ people around the world,” Buckley said. “Especially those who face dangerous, hateful and discriminatory policies.”