Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Protecting Our Youth

2015 begins in much the same way that 2014 ended – bittersweet. The victory in Florida has us celebrating with Florida – equality is now the law in 35 states and Washington DC, with several additional states awaiting the outcome of stayed court rulings. We anticipate the real possibility of legal recognition and protection of our families nationwide. It can’t come soon enough for our families and couples!

But even as we celebrate our tremendous progress toward marriage equality, we are quickly reminded that too many in our community still face tragic circumstances.

Our hearts are broken at the news of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn's death and the circumstances that led to it. Her story highlights the truth that our youth and our transgender sisters and brothers still suffer. LGBT youth continue to make up 40% of the homeless youth population in the United States, many of them rejected by their families because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. More than 50% of transgender youth have attempted suicide at least once before the age of 20. These statistics are horrifying. And they're not just statistics; they are the lives of our youth.

Join us as we fight to protect our youth, fight to put an end to heinous practices such as conversion therapy and help us find ways to overcome familial rejection – these are among The Center’s highest priorities. We are a community. We can't fully celebrate our progress until we are able to ensure all those among us are able to celebrate.

For information on transgender services and youth services at The Center, visit us at, and

Monday, August 4, 2014


We can be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS as an epidemic-level illness in San Diego. We can commit to the strategies that will reduce new cases in San Diego to zero.
#2024NoNewCases #EndTheEpidemicSanDiego

When AIDS first hit us, it was like a bomb went off in our community, leaving too few survivors. A generation of gay men suffered and died. Some buried partners. We all buried friends - too many friends. In spite of our grief and fear, we fought for compassionate care and medical interventions. We fought for funding and against government silence. We fought to end a plague that decimated our community, and to make the dying stop.

That fight was bold and courageous. More than three decades later, our efforts to end this epidemic must be equally bold. We still mourn our profound losses, but today we have increased knowledge and better tools to fight with.

Unfortunately, the stigma and shame remain. But we are dealing with a virus, not a moral condition. We have to fight through that stigma and shame, and talk openly to get to no new cases - through testing, treatment and new prevention tools.

The San Diego LGBT Community Center, which has been part of the fight since the beginning, remains committed to the battle against HIV/AIDS. Today, The Center and AIDS Walk San Diego call for San Diegans to join us and commit to reducing new cases in San Diego to zero within the next ten years.

We can be the generation that fights to end new cases, that stops the epidemic-level spread of HIV/AIDS. We can make it happen.

To reduce new infections, we must provide HIV/AIDS education without shame or fear, as well as access to condoms and medications for all who choose them. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis - treatments like Truvada) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) are revolutionary tools in this fight, and offer the most promising hope we have seen in prevention. There will be even more next-generation drugs behind these.

We must ensure those who have the virus can access the medical care and medications that will keep their viral loads undetectable so they will stay healthier and much, much less likely to transmit the virus. We need everyone to get tested and encourage others to do the same - frequently. With an intensified focus on prevention, testing and treatment, new infections can and will decrease. Ending new cases will decrease the transmission rate, which will help end this epidemic.

Let’s end new cases of HIV/AIDS in San Diego. Let’s do it for those who fought before us, and for ourselves. Let’s do it for those we’ve loved and love. Let’s do it for those that come next and could grow up in a world less afraid of this virus.

We can do this.
#bethegeneration #2024NoNewCases #TestTreatPrevent #EndTheEpidemicSanDiego

Thursday, November 29, 2012

All Eyes on the Court

The next five days are likely to be a whirlwind of incredible activity. Mayor, Council President, Congress and… marriage in California?

Monday we will have a new mayor and the City of San Diego will have a Democratic mayor for the first time in many, many years. Join us and our new mayor for a Neighborhood Inaugural Celebration Monday, December 3, 6:30-8:30 at The Center.

We may also have one of our own, Councilmember Todd Gloria, as City Council President on Monday! Todd is a former chair of the San Diego LGBT Community Center and we couldn’t be prouder.

We have another to recognize and celebrate as well – our new Congressmember and Center board member Scott Peters!

And amidst all of that, the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to make some huge decisions on Friday, November 30, about whether they will review and decide the Prop 8 (Perry) case. In addition, they will make decisions regarding the DOMA cases and whether they will review and rule on them this term.

It’s a day of historic proportions for us! This is a set of the biggest civil rights cases to reach the Court since Brown vs. Board of Education and an opportunity to affirm the central promises of liberty and justice for all and the Constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Below are broad descriptions of the options and what we can expect.

1. They may decide to review and rule (grant cert) on these cases (the DOMA cases are separate from the Perry/Prop 8 case) this term. It is expected that they will announce sometime Friday after their conference the cases they will be taking this term. If they grant cert and agree to take these cases, they will hold oral arguments later this year and rule on the issues of marriage equality. This opens the possibility of a national, permanent resolution to marriage equality (if they rule in our favor). Long, anxious waiting for justice will then continue through this term. However, historically the Supreme Court has stated 14 times that marriage is a fundamental right.

2. They may decide NOT to review (deny cert) on the Prop 8/Perry case. This decision not to grant cert would likely be announced Monday, December 3. If they vote to deny cert, it would be a monumental and historic win for the people of California. Prop 8 would then be invalidated and the lower Court decision (the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling ) affirming the the Federal District Court ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional would stand. Marriage would be legal in California again within days or a couple of weeks!

3. The third option would be no decision on whether they will hear it this year (grant cert) and kicking the can down the road to decide later. Most view this as unlikely outcome.

While either 1 or 2 can lead us to victory, 2 would be an immediate victory for Californians! #3 will just keep us waiting. What are the chances or either 1 or 2? Even with all the speculation, we don’t really know. Either is a victory or promise for one.

If #2 happens, expect a huge community-wide celebration! I will absolutely let you know. Maybe we’ll celebrate the mayor and marriage in California?

Stay tuned while all eyes are on the Court for the next five days…


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Supporting and Training New Leaders

Many justice movement pundits write about the need to continue the work of building power with a new, educated, energized leadership dedicated to carrying justice movements forward. Few talk about how to support, educate and provide opportunities for these new leaders. 

The San Diego LGBT Community Center has prioritized some of this work. Hearing clearly the hopes and needs of young leaders in our community, we began to host the Young Professionals Council more than two years ago. Again following their lead, we established the Young Professionals Council Leadership Council this last year. 

The Young Professional Council (YPC) is a diverse group of young LGBT and allied professionals who are dedicated to the growth of The Center. The YPC Academy, an intensive leadership development program, was designed to expand the ranks of young LGBT leaders that are ready to further equality through board service for a variety of agencies, non-profit organizations and government boards and commissions. 

During the Academy, these young professionals covered an impressive array of topics and heard from a veritable Who’s Who of San Diego’s social justice leaders and LGBT elected officials over the course of 42 hours of training and discussion. 

They participated in in-depth sessions covering topics such as leadership development (in elected office and other public service capacities), social justice movements, civic engagement, cross-issue/cross-movement collaborations and coalition building, board governance and fiduciary responsibilities, voter engagement, non-profit finance and fundraising.

I was impressed with their enthusiasm and commitment, and by the end of six weeks with this group I was looking at them with an eye toward my own board development. But this training isn’t just for The Center to benefit from, there are scores of local boards that would be fortunate to have any one of these 20 join in the leadership of their organization.

Congratulations to the 20 incredibly talented and committed graduates of The Center’s Young Professionals Council Academy’s inaugural class -- Abraham De La Cruz, Barbara Moreno, Ben Cartwright, Brian J. Nagle, Georgette G√≥mez, Gianni M. LaChica, Ian Johnson, Jared Quient, Jason Whitehouse, Jesus Sanchez, John Greenwell, Kimberly Simms, Maricar Camaya, Paul Richardson, Tony Winney, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, YPC secretary/treasurer Vanessa Cosio, YPC membership chair Jarryd Davis and YPC co-chairs Brandon Tate-McWilliams and Justin Knepper.

You can read more about the YPC, the Academy and the talented graduates at

You can also join in the celebration of these young leaders at the YPC Champagne Brunch on Sunday, July 1 from 11 am-1 pm at Wang’s North Park, 3029 University Ave. Tickets are just $40 and include fantastic food and bottomless mimosas. Purchase your tickets online today!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finally. The Freedom to Serve.

On Tues., Sept. 20, 2011, after 18 years of government mandated employment discrimination and more than 14,500 discharges, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy will officially expire.  Brave and strong gay and lesbian servicemembers who help protect their nation and its citizens will no longer be subject to discharge on the basis of their sexual orientation and will no longer be forced to serve in silence.

The repeal of this discriminatory and disrespectful ban is a victory that has taken decades to secure; hundreds of thousands of letters/calls, protests and donations, and scores of organizations and elected officials have taken up this struggle. It has taken all of us, and each and every effort to get to this day.

Because this marks the realization of a dream held and fought for by so many, because this is a victory that has taken decades to secure, because we rarely get to realize such monumental victories in our lifetimes, and because it finally frees some of our best, brightest, proudest community members, we are honor bound to mark this day in history!

On Sept. 20, The Center and the co-sponsoring partners will host a special “Freedom to Serve” event from 6-7 pm at The Center, 3909 Centre St., 92103. We will have the opportunity to hear from servicemembers who have suffered for decades, who are now free to serve! All who want to celebrate with them and for them are welcome and invited!

Even though it’s clear this isn’t the end of our work on matters of equality or even basic justice for our Trans community members, something that has taken decades to achieve is certainly worth taking a moment to recognize, particularly since our San Diego community has played such an important role in the elimination of this discriminatory policy.

By now, many of you have heard the story about the answering machine that began The Center almost forty years ago, the one that was housed in a closet (of all places). What you may not know is that many of the first calls to that now-famous answering machine were from gay men and lesbians who were serving in the military. Many of them were young, coming of age, often living away from home for the first time and frightened about being gay while serving their country in the military.

While living as an LGB person in the military in recent years under the cloud of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been unimaginably challenging, imagine what it must have been like for those who were struggling in 1973 – when being gay was still considered a mental illness, when you could be arrested for dancing with a person of the same sex and sodomy laws criminalized our lives.

Over the years, many of those callers and their friends from the San Diego community have gone on to form, support and serve in organizations dedicated to fighting for a change in policy, and to serve and support LGBT veterans. San Diego has been fortunate to have such incredible advocates in our midst. Many of our San Diego LGBT veterans and servicemembers have put up courageous fights – some began as far back as the 1950s, and others have carried forward that fight. Still others will continue this fight for full and equal benefits for service members and for the dignity our Trans community members also deserve. On Tuesday we salute their courage, their dedication and their victory.

We live in a military town, and even if we’ve never personally served in the military, many of our lives have been touched by the destructive impact of the military’s discriminatory policies against LGBT people.

Whether it’s partners who have had to stay hidden when their partners leave or return from long deployments, loved ones who’ve written letters using false names or just friends who had to help keep the secret, no matter what the particulars, too often we have had to watch our friends and loved ones suffer.

And now, after decades, many will no longer have to.

Co-Sponsoring Organizations
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)
Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
Equality California (EQCA)
Get Equal
San Diego LGBT Community Center
San Diego LGBT Pride

After the Freedom to Serve event at The Center, the celebrations will continue with several local establishments offering military discounts, including Gossip Grill, Baja Betty’s, Urban Mo’s, Bamboo Lounge and Bourbon Street. For more information about the Freedom to Serve event, please contact Denise Serrano at or 619.692.2077 x103.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Passing of a Community Friend

Today we honor the passing of a friend.

On August 24th we lost a long-time supporter of our community, one of our dedicated Center board members, and a personal friend, John Laird. Today we offer our love, thoughts, prayers and support to his husband and life partner of 28 years, Aaron Borovoy.

For almost two weeks John has been in my thoughts. When I learned of his illness, the complications and his struggle, I was filled with sadness at the impending loss for all of us.

Today I’m flooded with memories that make me smile. I remember John’s indefatigable passion for his community and for his beloved Center, his generosity of spirit, his infectious laughter, his warm, bear-hug greetings for all, and his never-wavering commitment to including and welcoming all people in “his” community.

John was absolutely devoted to this community – it was his extended family. He was a Center volunteer and supporter for decades and a Center board member for 8 years. Both he and his husband Aaron committed their time and energy to making our community better, in a hundred small, everyday ways and in larger, more important ones. And they succeeded. The San Diego LGBT community and its organizations have been made richer and stronger because of the incredible volunteer leadership and activism both Aaron and John have offered. They remind us all of the lasting, powerful difference two people can make on the lives of thousands.

Today we feel the loss, mourn with his husband, family and friends, remember the laughter and extraordinary kindness… and wish John peace and rest.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Countdown Clocks and Wedding Bells – Celebrating Justice

There’s no doubt that the hours, days, weeks and years of struggle can become enraging, depressing and frustrating. The enormous amounts of time and treasure that we pour out attempting to achieve even basic fair treatment under the law can, on some days, be overwhelming.

But not on this day. Not today.

This day we celebrate two tremendous, historic and game-changing victories. This day we begin to mark the ending of some decades-old struggles.

Friday, President Obama, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs signed and sent to Congress the Certification that our armed forces are ready and able to end decades of discrimination in the armed forces. And the 60-day clock started. On September 20, 2011 the discriminatory law that has forced lesbian and gay servicemembers to hide, struggle and suffer in silence will be repealed.

Done. Over. Now just a shameful chapter of history. As the clock ticks down the days, we’ll all be nervous; anxious that no last-minute, desperate acts of hate interfere. But we will also wait and count down with the growing sense that decades of activism, hope and courage are about to be rewarded with a historic victory. A new gay home decoration will be born: the framed copy of the front page of the New York Times headline that says: Repeal! Discrimination Dead!

And there’s more. Yesterday in the great state of New York, loving, dedicated gay and lesbian couples began to marry. Couples who have waited a lifetime to receive the basic dignity and recognition of their love and families that every human being deserves finally got to feel love win. Years of work, acts of bravery on both sides of the aisle, and thousands who have worked and held the hope can hear the bells ring. We celebrate with New York!

Does it mean all the battles are over? Of course not. Every Californian feels the bittersweet pain as they celebrate New York. It means that for a few short days we all get to remember that these days do come. That the values we represent -- freedom, dignity, compassion, fairness, service to country and to family, and equality -- do win.

Today is a celebration for all of us, not just a few. Today is a day when we remember that every email to an elected official, every Facebook post and re-post, every dollar we gave, every vote we cast for supportive candidates…it all mattered.

The struggles are painful and hard; the celebrations need to be equally intense, passionate, and hope-filled.

Join us at The Center tonight (Monday, July 25) at 6 pm to celebrate the certification of DADT repeal and the Countdown to Justice! In 57 days, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will finally be history. We’ll get the legal update from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and hear from some of our LGBT elected officials. And we’ll savor the moment surrounded by our servicemembers who have served so bravely in silence, our community, friends and allies. It’s a monumental step forward – let’s celebrate it!

In the meantime, SLDN is continuing to caution servicemembers not to come out until the 60 day countdown has passed. For more information on the legal issues,