Monthly Archives: March 2013

Roundup 3/30: SCOTUS & Marriage Equality, Arizona’s Bathroom Bill & More

By Stevie St. John

A snapshot of LGBTQ news, features and tidbits from this week on the web:

Los Angeles & Southern California

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A rally and vigil for marriage equality at L.A. City Hall on March 24. Organizers estimated that about 400 people participated.  

 

 

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

Have a photo to share from an LGBTQ community organization or event?
Email it to spectrumlosangeles@gmail.com!

  _______________________________________________________________________________________

Entertainment & Sports

 

SCOTUS, Prop 8, DOMA & Marriage

 

 

 

 

 

News, Features, Op-eds & Other Links
 

  • For some reason, some people have a weird–to the point of their interest seeming prurient, even–obsession with which bathrooms transgender people (and specifically trans women) use. In Arizona, a “softened” anti-trans “bathroom bill”  passed in a House panel. It would no longer make it illegal to use a restroom not in alignment with one’s birth sex, but it would protect individual businesses that bar trans people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
     
    Seriously, what is everyone’s problem about bathrooms? I generally just walk to and from my stall, wash my hands and leave, without taking much of an interest in/worry about who’s in the next stall or who’s checking her hair in the mirror over the next sink. The people who panic about this issue seem to always raise the completely imagined specter of harm to cisgender women and children. (They are less afraid of trans men, evidently, as there’s less concern about men’s rooms). But for five years, I worked at the world’s largest LGBT organization (which issued this statement), and lots of trans people worked there and/or turned there for services. I used the restrooms (often the women’s and sometimes the gender-neutral restrooms) hundreds of times and lived to tell the tale. If there were any secret trans gangs organizing covert bathroom attacks, I surely would have encountered them during that time. But I was perfectly safe! FALSE ALARM, AMERICA! Seriously, the idea that we should all be afraid of trans women–who are in fact the victims of physical violence at an alarming rate–is not in any way rooted in reality. Let’s just let people pee already!

 

  • Also in Arizona, Thomas Beatie (who is still being called “the pregnant man” despite the fact that the pregnancy he’s famous for ended a long time ago) was denied a divorce. The judge said Beatie failed to “prove” that he is a trans man at the time he and his wife wed–leading the judge to question the validity of the marriage.

 

  • Some sites are referring to “HIV quarantine” in connection with a Kansas bill, but a state epidemiologist says that is not the intent of the bill and specifically states that an HIV/AIDS quarantine would not be legal.

 

 

 

 

 


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At a Crossroads: Coming Out, Labels & the Choices that Shape Our Lives

By Stevie St. John

In one of my favorite episodes of Ellen, the titular Ellen Morgan (Ellen DeGeneres), faces an interesting choice. But not the choice she’s famous for, when she kicked open the closet door in a watershed moment for media portrayals of LGBTQ people.

This choice comes after Ellen has accepted her attraction to women, started coming out to friends and family as a lesbian, and going on dates with women. When she shares a kiss with ex-boyfriend Dan, her new identity is thrown into question. Her feelings for women are a given at this point, but was she too quick to rule out relationships with men? Here’s where the choice comes in: what is she going to do?

Ellen’s first instinct is to flee the question with a quip—“The whole men’s department was liquidated after years of declining sales.” —but her friend Peter urges her to be open to exploring her feelings. She decides to be open to the possibility of Dan (who is aware of what’s going on), so she tests the waters with him. The sparks aren’t real, and Ellen’s identity as a lesbian is confirmed.

Similarly, viewers watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) reach a crossroads when her first love, musician-slash-werewolf Oz, returns to Sunnydale just as her romance with Tara begins to blossom. At this juncture, it’s clear that Willow has real feelings for both Oz and Tara. Her choice isn’t about liking men exclusively or liking women exclusively. Her choice is about has to do with her relationships to two specific people, a guy who is her first love and a woman who’s leading her to question her sexuality.

I love this episode, which puts Oz and Tara on equal footing—Oz himself recognizes Tara as a rival for Willow’s affection—but something about its resolution feels a little unsatisfying. Oz and Willow realize a reunion isn’t feasible because his anger and jealousy set off the lupine instincts he’s been struggling to rein in, and which had led him to leave in the first place. Their parting is very sweet, but Oz’s werewolf relapse seems to give Willow an out by making this difficult choice for her. Still, the episode ends with a key choice for the character; she declares her love for Tara and cements their relationship.

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Tara and Willow on Buffy The Vampire Slayer

During this episode, it seems clear that Willow has an attraction to both Oz and Tara. However, after pursuing a relationship with Tara, Willow is referred to and identifies as a lesbian – “gay now,” she’ll say—rather than bisexual for the rest of the series. This seems like a reinterpretation of her relationship with Oz as well as her longtime crush on and high school dalliances with Xander.

On Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) initially seems befuddled by the fact she is attracted to both men and women. After sexual encounters with her friend Mark and her first female love interest, Erica, Callie says, “I guess I thought that there should be a difference.” (Incidentally, none of my bisexual friends have described sex with men and women as “not different.” But I guess the point for Callie is that she’s surprised that she enjoys being with women and men equally—establishing her as a middle-of-the-Kinsey-scale bisexual.) Callie decides she’s open to finding love with women, and eventually the character marries lesbian character Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw). The two are raising a daughter Callie conceived with Mark during a time she and Arizona had broken up.

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Arizona and Callie tie the knot on Grey’s Anatomy

I loved watching these stories unfold on screen and seeing the characters make choices. They aren’t choosing their sexual orientation or attractions, of course. But they are making choices about their lives. They choose whether to honestly explore their feelings; they choose whether they’re open to finding love with someone unexpected; they choose whether to apply a label to their identity and, if so, what label to use.

Regardless of the more fantastical story elements that frame these choices—vampires and werewolves on Buffy, a mass murder and a disastrous plane crash on the soapy Grey’s—these characters’ stories resonate. The characters grapple with some of the same questions real LGBTQ people face as we come out to ourselves and to others.

Queer ladies know actress Clementine Ford from her role on The L Word and as the former squeeze of music producer Linda Perry. (Ford is also the daughter of Cybill Shepherd.) Like many of us, she navigated a coming out path that wasn’t a totally straightforward one. She sort of came out—I say “sort of” because she herself objected to the interview being characterized that way, not because I think there is a “correct” way to come out—and then adopted the label lesbian. But for all their value in discussing who we are, sometimes labels can be confining, and eventually this one didn’t fit her. Here’s an excerpt from an entry in her blog, The Dog Ate My Antidepressants, in which Ford writes about falling for a man:

At first I tried to ignore my feelings because they didn’t make any sense. Then I tried to flat out deny them because I didn’t want to have them. Then I finally gave in because people kept reminding me that “the heart wants what the heart wants”. Most people float on pink clouds in the beginning and lose sleep thinking about their new person. I lost sleep because I knew that I would have to “come out” all over again.

I DO know that when I came out as a lesbian it was my truth. It still is, though now I prefer queer. I never saw the possibility of ever being with a man again. The idea was repulsive to me. What was I supposed to say?

 

A lot of people have opinions about what Ford should have said and what she should have done; in the blog post I linked above, she talks about some of the vitriol that’s been directed at her. But she made the choice to be open to love with someone unexpected—what’s wrong with that?

That’s the same choice I made when I came out. I chose to be honest with myself; I chose to be open to love; and, once I had found that love, I grappled with what label I chose for myself.

I’ve made other significant choices, too. In fact, I wanted to chart out how my choices, in tandem with events outside of my control, shaped my life. I pictured this creating a complex web. However, as I wrote down event after event, I found that most of the life events I thought of were actually my choices.

Of course, all of those choices took place in the context of things that happened to me or in my environment. I was born in a certain place at a certain time; I had certain opportunities; I faced certain prejudices; I met certain people and was exposed to certain ideas. But looking back, it is the times that I encountered a crossroads— a chance to embrace one path and leave another behind – that seem most vital in leading to the life I lived today. Someone told me once, during a time I was struggling with regret, that “your feet would not be here if your feet had not been there.” The path I walked, and the directions I chose I chose at each crossroads—those things brought me here.

I may not have always made the “right” decision (if there was a “right” and “wrong” one), but I love that I had the right and the opportunity to make them. They were my choices—mostly. I mean, I grew up in a particular social environment that informed how I thought about my choices. I have a particular genetic makeup that doubtlessly affects my choices in ways I don’t consciously perceive.

I think genetics is fascinating. Such a complicated series of factors interplay with one another in amazing ways to influence who we are, what we think and what we do. Yet we still have the capacity to make choices. And that’s really cool.

So I feel like the ongoing argument of “born this way” versus “show me the gay gene!” is overly simplified, a false dichotomy that misses the point. Of course, I am NOT saying that LGBTQ people as a whole decided to have a certain sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It’s clear that, at least for most of us, orientation and gender identity are inherent, intrinsic parts of us. (But if for some people it isn’t, so what?)

We make hundreds of choices. We choose whether to accept ourselves. We choose whether to enter relationships. We choose who we talk to openly about our lives as LGBTQ people. And we choose what labels, if any, to apply to ourselves.

Beyond being interesting, a question of curiosity, why does it matter whether we were born this way? What’s wrong with making choices, so long as our choices treat others and ourselves with respect? Those choices shape our lives and make us who we are.

Your feet would not be here if your feet had not been there—and the direction you choose on your next crossroads will determine where you find your feet next. Happy choosing.

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CONNECT: LGBTQ Events in the Los Angeles Area

By Stevie St. John

Looking for ways to connect with your community? Here’s a roundup of upcoming LGBTQ and other fun local events:

 

  • Simply diVine, benefiting the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
    Sunday, April 7 – Melrose PlaceSimplydiVine-8-18-2012-LMarcus-208-selects-webPhoto by Lydia MarcusThe L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center‘s annual food, wine and spirits sampling event returns to Melrose Place and moves to Sunday afternoon.

 

 

From the GLAAD:

The Board of Directors of GLAAD and President Herndon Graddick invite you to celebrate the most outstanding images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in the media at the largest, most visible LGBT gala in the nation, the GLAAD Media Awards! The GLAAD Media Awards bring celebrities, corporate partners, media professionals, and young adults together in support of GLAAD’s mission to amplify the voice of the LGBT community and achieve full equality!

 

 

 

  • Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
    April 20-21 – University of Southern California 2013-festival-of-books-logoFrom the event website:

    Spend a fun-filled weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 20 and 21 at USC. Get to know famous authors and celebrities, see culinary greats create their latest recipes, catch screenings and live music, enjoy cultural entertainment and much mor

    LGBT-interest events at the festival include a cooking demonstration by out chef Susan Feniger and an interview with lesbian graphic novelist Alison Bechdel (in conversation with Joy Press). You can see the festival schedule online here.

 

  • CicLAvia – To the Sea
    Sunday, April 21cicLAviaFrom the event website:

    CicLAvia makes the streets  safe for people to walk, skate, play and ride a bike. There are activities along the route. Shop owners and restaurants are encouraged to open their doors to people along the CicLAvia … Connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic.

 

 

 

For more events, visit the Spectrum Los Angeles calendar.To suggest an event for the calendar, email spectrumlosangeles@gmail.com.


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Photos: Rally & Candlelight Vigil for Marriage Equality at Los Angeles City Hall

By Stevie St. John

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in legal challenges to California’s Prop 8 and to the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). On Sunday evening, a rally and candlelight vigil in support of marriage equality was held at Los Angeles City Hall. Organizers have estimated that 400 people attended the event, where speakers included: Mike Bonin, who was just elected to the City Council; Eileen Ma of API Equality-LA; Episcopal pries Rev. Susan Russell; Mike Ai, mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s LGBT liaison; John O’Connor of Equality California; and others.

Here are some photos from the event:

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Photos by Stevie St. John

To see more photos, check out the Spectrum photo album on Facebook. And you can watch coverage of the event on the KTLA website.

Want to brush up on where things stand and what’s happening in the court cases? Here are some handy links:

AFER Video: Everything You Need to Know: Marriage Equality at the Supreme Court

Equality on Trial: Prop 8 and DOMA: what to look for at this week’s Supreme Court hearings

KPCC: Calif. Prop 8 & DOMA same-sex marriage cases: A primer to Tuesday’s Supreme Court arguments

Video: AFER Attorney David Boies on Meet the Press

AFER Marriage News Blog: Inside the Supreme Court: The Case for Marriage Equality and Oral Argument


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Roundup 3/23: Marriage Equality Rally/Vigil, GMCLA pics, LGBTQ News & More

By Stevie St. John

A snapshot of LGBTQ news, features and tidbits from this week on the web:

Los Angeles & Southern California

  • With the Supreme Court about to hear oral arguments in cases related to Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, several area LGBTQ and allied organizations are endorsing the United for Marriage rally and candlelight vigil that will take place on Sunday, March 24 at Los Angeles City Hall. City Hall is located at 200 N. Spring Street, within walking distance of the Civic Center metro station. Participants are encouraged to wear red.Follow @UnitedforMarrLA on Twitter for updates. Spectrum will live Tweet from the rally; the handle is LA_Spectrum. The event hashtag is #UnitedforMarriage.la_rallyla_rally

 

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Photos provided by GMCLA

 

You can see more photos from Awakenings in the GMCLA Facebook album. The next GMCLA show, Not Entirely Wicked, will take place at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on June 22-23.

 

 

  • The AIDS Healthcare Foundation recently released a video starring Pauley Perrette (NCIS) to promote its Out of the Closet thrift stores and its HIV testing services.

 

 

  • Frontiers Magazine filed for Chapter 11 this month.
     
    “After careful consideration of various economic factors, we made the decision to enter formal Chapter 11 restructuring. Our circulation and advertising base remain strong, and we fully expect to emerge from the reorganization process on sound financial ground. Filing under Chapter 11 will not only allow Frontiers to publish its biweekly editions while restructuring certain legacy costs, but also to propose a future operations plan to the court that further enhances the company’s value,” publisher David Stern said in a news release.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Have a photo to share from an LGBTQ community organization or event?
Email it to spectrumlosangeles@gmail.com!

  _______________________________________________________________________________________

Entertainment 

Prop 8, DOMA & Marriage

 

 

 

 

News, Features, Op-eds & Other Links

  • Gwissues and The Peculiar Kind recently released videos that address the topic of bisexuality and associated stereotypes and misconceptions.

 

 

 

 

 


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Connect: LGBTQ Community Fundraising Events

By Stevie St. John

Looking for ways to connect with and support your community? Here’s a roundup of upcoming events that support LGBTQ organizations and services:

  • Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles Dinner 
    Saturday, March 23 - Ritz-Carlton/JW Marriott at LA LivedisneyDisney/ABC Television Group will be honored with the Human Rights Campaign‘s Corporate Equality Award. Special guests at the gala dinner will include Rob Reiner, Kerry Washington, Congressman Mark Takano, and plaintiffs in the case against Prop 8.

 

 

  • Simply diVine, benefiting the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
    Sunday, April 7 – Melrose Place
     
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    Photo by Lydia Marcus
     
    The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center‘s annual food, wine and spirits sampling event returns to Melrose Place and moves to Sunday afternoon.

 

 

From the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation:

The Board of Directors of GLAAD and President Herndon Graddick invite you to celebrate the most outstanding images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in the media at the largest, most visible LGBT gala in the nation, the GLAAD Media Awards! The GLAAD Media Awards bring celebrities, corporate partners, media professionals, and young adults together in support of GLAAD’s mission to amplify the voice of the LGBT community and achieve full equality!

 

 

 

For more events, visit the Spectrum Los Angeles calendar.To suggest an event for the calendar, email spectrumlosangeles@gmail.com.


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Roundup 3/16: LGBTQ News, Features & More

By Stevie St. John

A snapshot of LGBTQ news, features and tidbits from this week on the web:

Los Angeles & Southern California

  • Alan Bell (BLK) and Jeanne Córdova (The Lesbian Tide, Square Peg) spoke at the the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives Queers Print panel at the ONE Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood .

    BLK, and Jeanne Córdova, writer, activist, author and founder of The Lesbian Tide and Square Peg,


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    Photo courtesy of ONE Archives 

    Alan Bell and Jeanne Córdova.

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    Photo courtesy of ARTbeat

Alan Bell speaking about BLK.

  • I recently attended two National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA)’s Los Angeles chapter events. Here are some pics:nlgja out in newsroom panel
    NLGJA photo

    Out in the Newsroom panelists Jane Engle, Phillip Zonkel, Mekalo Mekahlo Medina, Miguel Marquez and Bettina Boxall with moderator Ted Johnson.
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 NLGJA photo

Outsports co-editors Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler were the guests at the March NLGJA mixer. They talked about Outsports being purchased by Vox Media. My friend Greg Hernandez, the president of the L.A. NLGJA chapter, has coverage on his Greg in Hollywood site.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Have a photo to share from an LGBTQ community organization or event?
Email it to spectrumlosangeles@gmail.com!

  _______________________________________________________________________________________

 

News, Features, Op-eds & Other Links

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CONNECT: LGBTQ Events in the Los Angeles Area

By Stevie St. John
 
Looking for ways to connect with your community? Here’s a roundup of upcoming LGBTQ events:
 

 

 

 

 

  • Zine Workshop for Teens and Adults
    March 16 –ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives

     
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    Here’s ONE’s description of this free workshop:
     
    “Together we will be looking at examples of queer zines and pamphlets that are part of a first-person queer history. We will have the chance to explore other parts of the archive to get inspiration from other ephemera, photographs, art, and primary-source documents we discover, and making our own zine to add to the archive.”

 

 

  • SoCal Social Club Mixer
    Wednesday, March 20 – The Crocker Club 
     
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    Here’s the scoop from SoCal Social Club:
     
    “Join SCSC for another special evening of cocktails, conversations and new connections.This month we’re hosted by The Crocker Club in downtown Los Angeles. Formerly known as The Crocker National Bank, the Crocker Club is now a swanky lounge evocative of an antique bank with a modern twist.”

 

  • End of the Rainbow
    Through April 21 – Ahmanson Theatre
     
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    Center Theatre Group says:
     
    “In one of the most celebrated performances on both the London and Broadway stage, Tony® Award nominee Tracie Bennett is an irresistible force embodying Garland’s signature cocktail of talent, tenacity and razor-sharp wit in this savagely funny backstage drama.”

 

 

  • Simply diVine, benefiting the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
    Sunday, April 7 – Melrose Place 
     
    SimplydiVine-8-18-2012-LMarcus-208-selects-web
    Photo by Lydia Marcus
     
    The Center’s annual food, wine and spirits sampling event returns to Melrose Place and moves to Sunday afternoon.

 

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Q&A: Chris Verdugo, Executive Director of Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles

By Stevie St. John

 

GMCLA Chorus - Awakenings

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) will perform Awakenings this Saturday and Sunday at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.

This weekend, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) will perform at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles along with special guests Vox Femina Los Angeles (VOX) and the new LGBT youth chorus Outside Voices. GMCLA executive director Chris Verdugo responded via email to Spectrum‘s questions about the organization, its upcoming Awakenings show, and its performance at the Oscars.

  • For readers who aren’t familiar with the Gay Men’s Chorus, what is the group all about? How can people get involved?
    GMCLA is celebrating its 34th season. We’ve been in existence since 1979, when 99 men came together to create this organization. Throughout the last 34 years, the organization has grown from an all-volunteer group singing three concert shows a year to an organization that has over 250 members, tours internationally, has performed for two sitting presidents, had a groundbreaking new high school program called Alive Music Project which brings music education with an anti-bullying component to area high schools;  has a small touring company in collaboration with the It Gets Better Project and reaches a hundreds of thousands through our social media efforts.We have auditions twice a year, both in September and in January for those interesting in singing. And there are always volunteer needs within the organization.

 

  • How long have you personally been involved with GMCLA? Why is the group important to you?

    I have been with GMCLA since 2006. I auditioned as a singing member and throughout the last 7 years, found myself in different capacities … from show producer to director of development, and since last year, Executive Director. Most folks ask me what else I do besides GMCLA … I chuckle, that’s usually when I get to tell them that I manage a growing arts organization with a $1.5m budget work 60 hours a week and wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel blessed to be with this organization at this moment in its history.

 

  • Tell me about Awakenings.AwakeningsCard-V2Awakenings is a show where you see the music with your ears. It’s an aural experience of both classical and contemporary choral music.

 

  • What about this show are you most excited about?

    I’m most excited about the combined pieces with our special guests, Vox Femina, and our new LGBT youth chorus, Outside Voices.

 

  • What’s it like working with the Outside Voices youth from LifeWorks?

    Outside Voices is our collaboration with LifeWorks (the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s youth development and mentoring program). Michael Ferrera, LifeWorks Director, and I met almost a year and a half ago with the idea of creating an LGBT youth chorus,  and last November the dream took flight.  This will be their debut performance, and we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to create s safe space where youth can come together, practice their art and express themselves freely.

 

  • Tell me about the It Gets Better Project tour. 

    The experience is ongoing and quite extensive. Let me point you to the tour website, www.itgetsbettertour.org. In short though, I will say that every city/college town we’ve been to thus far has received the production with open arms and has relayed how much value was gained by the community having the team  there for a week of workshops and performances.  And in Kansas, we had the distinct honor of being protested by Westboro Baptist Church … it’s our latest badge of honor.

 

  • What was the experience of being part of the Oscars like for the group? Any comment on the controversy over the song?

    Well, whenever you get a call from the Oscars asking you to perform, it’s pretty awesome. We were honored that Seth himself requested our presence on stage with him and that nearly a billion people all over the world heard the name of a gay organization on the Oscars. Part of our mission is to bring visibility to the LGBT community and combat homophobia, we felt this opportunity fulfill that portion of our mission.

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CONNECT: Save the Date for Pride Festivals & Other 2013 Events

By Stevie St. John 

Looking for ways to connect with your community? Here’s a roundup of 2013 LGBTQ Pride events and other community festivals:

 

 

 

 

 

  • Trans Pride L.A.
    June 21-22transunionMusician Ryan Cassata will headline Saturday’s entertainment at the Trans Pride L.A. event. To see updates as they are announced, follow TransUnionLA on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

  • OC Pride
    August 10 – Broadway & 4th Streetoc

 

For more events, visit the Spectrum Los Angeles calendar. To suggest an event for the calendar, email spectrumlosangeles@gmail.com.

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