Albert H. Fulcher
Eight trailblazers of the San Diego LGBT community and its allies are to be inducted into The Community Wall of Honor at The San Diego LGBT Community Center on Oct. 27. Founded in 2004 by Nicole Murray Ramirez, the Imperial Court de San Diego and The Center, the Wall of honor is a recognition of the significant affirmative influence in the San Diego County LGBT community.
At this years ceremony, Chris Shaw and Doug Snyder, Julia Legaspi, Connor Maddocks, Tracie Jada O’Brien, Teresa Oyos, Venice “Lady Pepper” Price Brook, Maureen Steiner and Andrea Villa are to be inducted, continuing the wall’s tradition of remembering, honoring and educating the community’s history.
As a child, Andrea and her family spent their summer days in Balboa Park. It was there on the lawns near the shuffleboard courts that her father told them about his father — a day laborer who immigrated from Mexico to help build the iconic Cabrillo Bridge for the 1915 Panama Exhibition.
Pride was the locus of her activism until 1987 when Andrea quit her job to attend the March on Washington for LGBT Rights, an event that would change her life. The momentum of 250,000 people in the streets of the nation’s capital fed the fire for justice that has lit her path ever since. She met local activists who would be her mentors over the years, among them Larry Baza, Albert Bell, and most importantly, Jeri Dilno. After the March, Andrea sought to be of service in equality and justice movements. She was a founding member of ActUP! San Diego, served on the board of San Diego LGBT Pride as member and co-chair, and was elected to the board twice as president of the storied San Diego Democratic Club (now San Diego Democrats for Equality).
In 2004, Andrea joined The San Diego LGBT Center’s board of directors, where she was a founding member of its Latino Advisory Council and helped launch the nation’s first LGBTQ Latino/a/x organization in San Diego, where queer Latinx youth, adults, and their families could find support, dignity, and vital services. She threw herself into the intersectional work of The Center, serving on the board in multiple capacities over 11 years, including vice chair and chair of the board. Along with her late wife, Aida Mancillas, she also grew active in marriage equality, engaging Latino leadership — straight and gay — in the movement. And, when asked, she answered the call to co-chair the San Diego No on 8 Campaign.
The loss of that fight in November 2008 was devastating. “We were gutted,” she recalls. “But we were back at it that weekend, helping a small group of new youth activists organize a protest against the vote.”
Her coffee pot may be in Oakland, but her heart is in San Diego. She’ll be back soon.
Doug Snyder & Chris Shaw
Doug Snyder and Chris Shaw have been together since 1983. They’ve both been involved in the LGBTQ+ community since 1979 and have founded: WCPC (West Coast Production), The Flame (San Diego’s Lesbian night club), Studio Nine (a LGBTQ+ under-21 nightclub), Hamburger Mary’s (which later became Urban MO’s), Baja Betty’s, Gossip Grill (California’s only women’s bar), Hillcrest Brewing Company (the world’s first LGBTQ+ brewery) and Inside Out.
Doug, Chris, and their 284 staff members have always been dedicated and extremely active in the community. Over the last 40 years, they have donated or raised hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for our community. Their philosophy has always been, “You cannot have a successful business without a strong healthy community.” That is why it has always been a priority to create an incredible Hillcrest community. They feel blessed to be part of this great community and will always stay committed to Hillcrest. It has never about the awards, the acknowledgments or articles in the paper. For Doug and Chris, it has always been about creating and building a community where everyone can feel comfortable being who they are and thrive being who they are.
Connor Maddocks has been civil rights advocate in the San Diego transgender community since transitioning 16 years ago. He is an active guest speaker and trainer to various organizations, businesses, colleges and health care agencies on transgender issues. He’s done extensive trainings on all aspects of workplace compliance, diversity, legal and human rights issues. Connor is a former member of the San Diego Pride board of directors, and a proud active volunteer of Pride for the past 15 years. He also works with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. In 2015, Connor began working with the San Diego Police Department, doing the very first trainings on transgender issues to the entire SDPD and for San Diego local law enforcement professionals through the U.S. attorney’s office. Connor is now a member of the San Diego Police Chief’s Advisory Board.
Connor has been the chair of the Transgender Day of Remembrance since 2006, has co-chaired and been on the committee for Transgender Day of Empowerment since its inception in 2004. He created the annual Transgender Community Picnic held every fall, took over leadership of the San Diego FTM/SO meeting and has been running it since 2005. As the facilities manager at the San Diego LGBT Center where he began working in 2006, Connor founded the Trans Coming Out Discussion Group, Woman’s Discussion Group, co-founded Transforming Family with Monica Nunez, and in 2013 became the program coordinator for Project Trans, the LGBT Center’s first transgender program.
He is most proud of all the interactions with his community and helping to bring them all together. He is also the parent of three amazing daughters and grandparent to eight beautiful grandkids.
Julia was born in Cavite City, Philippines, the fifth of 11 siblings to Ceferino Legaspi and Juliana de los Santos. Julia opened JHIGS Hair Studio in 1982, a favorite spot for locals and many celebrities.
Equality has been Julia’s advocacy, and she’s a prominent leader in the LGBT community and the Fil-Am community. Julia received recognition from different civic organizations and political leaders, such as Mayor Susan Golding, whoc proclaimed Nov. 19, 1991 as “Julia Legaspi Day” in the city of San Diego.
In 2004, Julia was bestowed the honor of being the first transgender person appointed to public office in the city of San Diego and only the third in the country. She was also appointed by then-Mayor Dick Murphy to The Equal Opportunity Commission and later to The Human Relations Commission.
Julia is currently the president of The Los Chabacanos of Cavite City, and is also a current member of the mayor’s and the sheriff’s LGBT advisory boards.
Julia firmly believes, “Discrimination against any of us is discrimination against all of us!”
Maureen Steiner is more than an advocate for social justice. Maureen was taught by example that giving to the community is a moral obligation and a privilege. She is a community activist and has been a social leader for most of her life.
Maureen served as the first openly LGBT person on many committees in Coronado and San Diego, including chairing both the Coronado Planning Commission and the San Diego County Democratic Party. She served on the Community Leadership Council and the LGBT Historic Task Force, city of San Diego Salary Setting Commission and numerous other civic and nonprofit boards. She was a leader at Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD) and strong supporter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of San Diego and their program goals. Additionally, she has served on the boards of the San Diego Archaeological Center and the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO), where she played a role in the saving of the Western Metal Building, which is now the signature part of the Downtown ballpark.
As a board member and then president of Lambda Archives of San Diego, Maureen had a goal of making the organization a vibrant and relevant part of the LGBT+ community. She succeeded in so many ways by bringing the “antiquarian collecting society” into the current conversation and expanding it from a passive to an active community asset.
Maureen has always demonstrated transparent and ethical leadership. She received the Richard Geyser Community Leadership Award from the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. She is a proud member of the Imperial Court de San Diego, served as the first “Ms. South Bay Pride,” and has been a staunch advocate for programs and services helping San Diego LGTBQ youth.
Teresa Oyos was born and raised in San Diego. She began her activism after enrolling at San Diego City College in 1971. It was there she became very active in M.E.C.H.A., the newspaper La Verdad, and picketing to get Chicano Park. That activism carried over into taking the summer off to volunteer full time with the United Farmworkers Union, where she lived at the “Boycott House” with her daughter, organizing during the week and picketing Safeway on the weekends. That experience culminated in meeting the humble Cesar Chavez.
After coming out in 1974, Teresa became involved with a collective to help open Las Hermanas, a women’s coffeehouse and cultural center. In 1984, she joined the staff at The San Diego Gayzette, allowing her to work with Christine Kehoe and Julie Warren, and becoming friends with Adam Gettinger-Brizuela. These friendships, and the encouragement of Nicole Murray-Ramirez, fueled the fire of establishing Orgullo, the first LGBTQ Latino/a/x organization in San Diego.
Starting in 1996, Teresa worked at first for CRASH for 10 years, and then for HNRP (HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program), conducting research and then outreach throughout San Diego County on the affects, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. After 20 years of HIV/AIDS activism, Teresa retired from HNRP/UC San Diego in 2016.
Teresa was a commissioner on the city of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission from 2008-10 and was a longstanding member of The Center’s Latino Services Advisory Committee from 2004-10.
Teresa met the love of her life, Rose, in 1986; the couple were married in 2016.
Sober since 1987, Teresa is enjoying being fully retired, and all the joys of traveling, cooking and volunteering that come with it.
Venice “Lady Pepper” Price Brooks
Venice “Lady Pepper” Price Brooks was born in Torrance, California. She is a graduate of La More High School, located in La More, California. Venice moved to San Diego in 1983 and transitioned shortly afterward her arrival. She felt incredibly embraced and supported by the San Diego transgender community, including her older sister who came and stayed with Venice during her transition. The move to San Diego allowed for deeper connections throughout the community. Venice still feels there is more work to be done to serve and uplift our transgender community. Her leadership in the transgender community is also displayed with her involvement and passion with Diamonds in the Rough. Venice is an ordained minister and has worked closely with a local congregation in Hemet, California. Her call to ministry allowed her to share God’s ministry to the LGBTQ community, reminding them, “We are all God’s children.” Venice “Lady Pepper” Price Brooks has been married to her husband for 31 years.
Tracie Jada O’Brien
Tracie Jada O’Brien’s activism began shortly after taking her first HIV test in 1991. The result was life changing, as prior to that time, she engaged in risk-taking activities. It was also during that time she made some significant life changes, realizing she was not destined to live a limited existence being a female assignment, male at birth. In the early 1990s, Tracie worked with the San Diego AIDS Foundation creating and modeling the first HIV-prevention brochure targeting transgender population and sex workers. Tracie soon engaged in collaborative efforts with Family Health Centers of San Diego’s Gay Men’s HIV Health Program.
It was during these efforts that Tracie, along with two other staunch transgender advocates, approached Family Health Centers HIV testing clinic and asked if they would be interested in providing monitored hormone therapy to the transgender community. The transgender community, they explained, would have healthy and safe access to clean needles, decreasing the risk of HIV transmission and hepatitis infection. Family Health Centers welcomed the idea and shortly thereafter began offering monitored hormone therapy and free medications. During her years working at Family Health Centers, Tracie worked to create best practices for safe spaces for transgender and gender non-conforming patients, medical documentation, labeling, and electronic medical records.
Tracie was involved in the Annual Transgender Day of Empowerment (DOE), launched November 2004 at the LGBT Center to an audience of 75 attendees. Fifteen years later, this critical event continues to empower the San Diego transgender and nonbinary communities providing education scholarships to 23 deserving trans/GNC individuals.
In 2005, Tracie attended the first ever Transgender Consultation Forum hosted by the CDC. At this forum, transgender activists came from across the nation to formally document the significant disparities in transgender HIV care, prevention, and care. As a result of this forum, the California Office of AIDS invited transgender activists from across the state to Sacramento and brainstorm creating the foundation of what was to become The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health housed at the University of California, San Francisco.
The best reward for Tracie is telling new patients at the beginning of their transition journey that “all” of their care, including surgeries, can be covered by county insurance. This is critical for the transgender community as many survive on a yearly wage of $10,000 or less. With access to their life-affirming services, lessening dysphoria, many in our community report less depression and anxiety and have the confidence to get that job or enroll in school.
—Albert Fulcher can be reached at email@example.com.