The Center Awarded $100k ‘Challenge Grant’
The San Diego Foundation, a local nonprofit philanthropic organization, announced on May 12 at the annual Harvey Milk Breakfast that it was awarding a $100,000 challenge grant to the San Diego LGBT Community Center to “support outreach and programming for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth in San Diego.”
The challenge grant is basically a matching grant, but is contingent upon The Center raising $100,000 of its own for its recently opened Hillcrest Youth Center.
“At San Diego Foundation, we have a vision for just, equitable and resilient communities,” said Mark Stuart, president and CEO of San Diego Foundation, in a press release. “Our work will not be complete until everyone who calls San Diego home has the opportunity to prosper, thrive and feel like they belong. This grant acknowledges The Center’s important work with LGBTQ-identifying youth and young people in our region.”
Cara Dessert, CEO of The Center, identified San Diego Foundation’s recognition of the work The Center has been doing for LGBTQ youth as “incredibly rewarding.”
“The San Diego LGBT Community’s Hillcrest Youth Center was established in 2000 as a drop-in resource center for high school youth, and since then we have expanded our services and now provide programs and support for youth ages 10 to 24,” Dessert said in a press release. “After 22 years of renting space, the Hillcrest Youth Center will now have a forever home in Hillcrest, which provides more than double the space of our former location.
The challenge grant will be awarded once The Center raises $100,000, and the funds will not only support programming, but also facility upgrades for the Hillcrest Youth Center. To donate, visit thecentersd.org.
Hillcrest Classic Car Show Still Going Strong
Every third Saturday at the Pride Plaza on Normal Street, you can find as many as 20 collectors gathered to show off their classic cars. This event has been ongoing for nearly a decade. Come out between 1-3:30 pm and then grab a beer and a slice next door!
In addition, on every third Sunday of the month, the San Diego Automotive Museum also hosts dozens of classic car aficionados in its parking lot from 7:30-9 a.m. The museum even provides donuts and coffee to attendees! Consider making it a morning by stopping by as you take your early morning Sunday stroll through Balboa Park. Also – if you wish to slide into the Museum afterward, it’s only $10 before 10 a.m. For more info on the museum, visit sdautomuseum.org.
First ‘Equality Wine Fest’ in Palm Springs
It’s the inaugural year for Equality Wine Fest, taking place July 1, from 1 to 4 pm at Margaritaville Resort (formerly The Riviera Hotel), located at 1600 N. Palm Canyon, in Palm Springs, Calif. “Equality Wine Fest gathers together winemakers, industry professionals, celebrity chefs, vendors, and enthusiasts alike to learn and appreciate great wine and food, and celebrate and support diversity,” states the organizations website.
In addition to wine tastings from a diverse set of LGBTQ+, BIPOC, women-owned, managed or produced California wineries, attendees will enjoy food samples, local community artists and retailers, live music and demonstrations, listen to educational speakers, and have the opportunity to participate in a silent auction.
There will be a VIP Grand Tasting experience, which is $40 more, but offers an exclusive tasting with Iron Horse Vineyards; a winemaker talk and meet-and-greet with Jim Obergefell (owner/vinter of Equality Vines), who was also the lead plaintiff for the Marriage Equality case; an additional hour of access; and other VIP-only items. A winemaker’s dinner is also in the works (for an additional fee) and options for making it a weekend of it are available on the website. For tickets, visit equalitywinefest.com/tickets.
Catalina Island to Host Pride Celebration
Opening ceremonies for Love Catalina Island’s annual Pride celebration will kick off at 12 noon, Saturday, June 24, with festivities lasting until 10 pm. Starting with a Pride Walk (mini parade/march) along the boardwalk to Casino Point in Avalon, followed by DJs, live performances, various after-parties (starting around sunset), and other events leading up to the main event, taking place at Wrigley Stage at 7:35 pm, featuring California all-girl band, Pulp Vixen. Follow @LoveCatalinaIsland on Instagram for updates on after parties. Love Catalina Island Tourism Authority is a proud member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. For more information about the event and schedule, visit lovecatalina.com/pride.
Coachella Valley Harvey Milk Breakfast Honors two Latino Leaders
At the 10th anniversary of its own Harvey Milk Breakfast, hosted by Palm Springs Pride board and held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, leaders honored San Diego’s own Nicole Murray Ramirez with its Harvey B. Milk Legacy Award.
“Ramirez has dedicated more than 45 years of his life to social justice for all. From leading protests during the AIDS crisis to leading the civil rights movement with Cesar Chavez,” the organization stated in a press release.
“I always feel like God’s blessed me to see the emergence and the diversity and the [growth] of both communities; I love the Latino and the LGBT community,” Ramirez said of the honor. “A hate crime against one of our communities is a hate crime against all of us.”
The other honoree, Ricardo Lara, received the event’s annual Harvey Milk Award. In 2018, Lara made history when he became the first openly-gay person elected to a statewide office. Both men honored the next generation of LGBTQ leaders in their remarks.
The annual breakfast, modeled after San Diego’s Harvey Milk breakfast which first launched 17 years ago, honors the birthday and memory of Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay elected official in California, and his legacy of groundbreaking inspiration in the struggle to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. It was designed to bring together and strengthen the various coalitions and community organizations that work toward equality in the Coachella Valley.
Men in Monogamous Relationships now Allowed to Give Blood
The FDA has released new rules about who can donate blood, and they don’t only impact the gay community. Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and, if not treated, it can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is transmitted through bodily fluids. During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, the FDA changed its policies and excluded gay men from donating blood, since blood was a primary means of HIV transmission. After years of facing claims of discrimination that its policies were not based in science, the FDA began reassessing their lifetime restrictions on gay men, and in 2015, they replaced that ban with a one-year abstinence requirement. In 2020, after blood donations of any kind plummeted due to COVID-19, the agency adjusted the previous ruling to only exclude “any man who had sex with another man within the past three months.”
This continued exclusion still didn’t sit right with activists.
“Current and former blood donation policies made unfounded assumptions about gay and bisexual men and really entangled individuals’ identity with their likelihood of having HIV,” said Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group.
The FDA’s latest policy proposal offers no restrictions to gay – and straight – men in monogamous relationships when donating blood.
New policy requires that all potential blood donors complete a survey about their sexual history to evaluate their individual risk. Those who have had – a new sexual partner, multiple sexual partners, or anal sex – in the past three months, will still be excluded from donating. In addition, those taking medications to treat or even prevent HIV (PrEP) will also be excluded. The policy will also apply to any women who have sex with gay or bisexual men and continue to apply to anyone who has ever tested positive for HIV.
The FDA came to these recommendations after reviewing their own data, in part a study on 1,600 gay and bisexual men, as well as data from other countries with similar policies.
“The FDA has worked diligently to evaluate our policies and ensure we had the scientific evidence to support individual risk assessment for donor eligibility while maintaining appropriate safeguards to protect recipients of blood products. The implementation of these recommendations will represent a significant milestone for the agency and the LGBTQI+ community,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
“We are grateful to the many stakeholders who have participated in this effort and advocated for change, including researchers, study participants, and LGBTQ+ community partners,” said a spokesperson from the American Red Cross when the recommendations were initially proposed, signaling they welcomed the changes.
The FDA sets requirements and procedures for blood banks throughout the U.S. All potential donors answer questions about their sexual history, injectable drug use and any recent tattoos or piercing, among other factors that can contribute to the spread of blood-borne infections. Donated blood is then tested for HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis and other infectious diseases.
For more information, visit bit.ly/3WDeKqo.
Palm Springs’ ‘Walk of Stars’ to add LGBT Designations
The renowned Palm Springs Walk of Stars, established in 1992, has honored more than 450 celebrities and local personalities on one of the world’s most famous sidewalks, Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs. Thanks to the LGBTQ+ History & Archives of the Desert, the Walk of Stars will now recognize LGBTQ honorees with a special designation on the Walk of Stars website and its accompanying app. These designations will acknowledge the individual’s contributions to both Palm Springs and the local LGBTQ community.
The update to both digital locations should be completed by this fall. The local Chamber of Commerce sees this as a “significant step” in not only their marketing of the Walk of Stars to the thousands of LGBTQ visitors every year, but to also showcase the importance of these contributors to the area.
“We are so excited to add this new designation to such an amazing program,” said Nona Watson, CEO of the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, in a press release. “It is a great way to recognize these individuals who have contributed so much to make our city like no place else.”
“The Walk of the Stars Palm Springs will collaborate with the LGBTQ+ History & Archives of the Desert, and the City of Palm Springs, to identify and recognize the deserving individuals who will be recognized with this new designation, and going forward new LGBT honorees will also be able to be recognized,” said David Gray and Julie Warren in the press release.
Gray and Warren are co-founders and co-directors of the LGBTQ+ History & Archives of the Desert, which was recently established to document and preserve the history of the LGBTQ+ community in the Palm Springs area. For more information, visit lgbtqpshistory.org.
Another State Fast-tracks a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
Louisiana has jumped on the bandwagon of conservative-led states who are filing bills which take aim at every level of transgender existence, from bathroom use, to health care and athletics. The state has at least four bills which could pose irreversible harm to LGBTQ people, including the latest measure, which would broadly ban K-12 public school staff from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom or during extracurricular activities. LGBTQ advocates say the legislation’s ban does so “in a manner that deviates from state content standards or curricula developed by the public school governing authority.” In addition, the bill would require teachers to only use names and pronouns that aligned with a student’s sex at birth. The measure passed 67-28 in the state house in late April and is on its way to the GOP-dominated senate, where it is sure to pass.
Hillcrest Wind Ensemble to Perform in Bankers Hill
On Saturday, June 17, at the Bankers Hill Club, located at 3030 Front Street in Hillcrest, the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble presents “Twentieth Century Rewind,” a performance of pop music representing each decade of the 1900s. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres on the patio starting at 6 pm, with doors opening at 6:30 pm, and the concert beginning at 7 pm. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door or online at hillcrestwindensemble.com.
Under the direction of Artistic Director Christian Tordahl, the ensemble will perform songs from musical artists such as Cole Porter and the Beatles to Whitney Houston and even Star Wars. A bake sale featuring homemade desserts and beverages will be the highlight of the intermission.
The 45-piece Hillcrest Wind Ensemble is in its 37th year of performing and is proud to be a musical ambassador for the community as a whole. For more information, visit hillcrestwindensemble.com.