Center Briefs

SEEING STARS

Charity Navigator, the nation’s premier charity evaluator, awarded the Center its highest rating of four stars—for the fourth consecutive year—for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. Only 7 percent of the charities they rank have received four consecutive 4-star evaluations. 

“We’re grateful Charity Navigator reminds people of the importance of donating to organizations known for fiscal responsibility,” says Center CEO Lorri L Jean, “and we’re very proud to be one of the few charities to receive their highest ranking for four years in a row!”

RIDING TO THE TOP

The final numbers from AIDS/LifeCycle 2013 are in and we now know that participants raised a record-breaking $14.5 million—a slight increase from the original $14.2 estimate!

There’s still time to register for the seven-day ride from San Francisco to L.A., June 1-7. Register now at aidslifecycle.org!

LGBT COMMUNITY TAKES COVER

The Center partnered with Covered California when it hosted a press conference on December 3 to kick off a marketing campaign aimed at getting the LGBT community to sign up for affordable health care. 


Covered California is the state’s marketplace for affordable health insurance, under the federally mandated Affordable Care Act. Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee urged people to sign up for health insurance by December 23 in order for their coverage to begin January 1. As of the beginning of the year, more than 400,000 Californians have enrolled for health insurance. Consumers must enroll in Covered California by March 31 in order to avoid a penalty. For more information visit coveredca.com.

WELL DONE AND WELL FED

Whole Foods Market’s Feed Four More campaign in West Hollywood raised more than $16,000 worth of pre-packaged, non-perishable food products for the low-income LGBT seniors served by the Center. 

The campaign, which ran from Thanksgiving through the end of 2013, also raised nearly $14,000 in cash donations from generous Whole Foods shoppers. The donations were greatly needed: more than half of the seniors the Center serves live on $2,000 per month or less and 18 percent live on less than $1,000 per month.

LGBT YOUTH GET ‘SIRIUS’

The holidays became brighter for many homeless LGBT youth, thanks to SiriusXM radio hosts Derek and Romaine. The award-winning gay/lesbian duo, whose national talk show hit the airwaves in 2003, chose the Center as a beneficiary for their Season of Giving holiday donation drive. They encouraged listeners to donate items for the thousands of homeless LGBT youth the Center serves.

Days before Christmas, the Youth Center on Highland received more than 10 boxes of gently used casual clothing, winter coats, new underwear and socks … just to name a few.

lagaycenter.org

By Lorri L. Jean

He was handsome, smart, dynamic and hugely successful in the entertainment industry. I got to know him when he began supporting the Center, and in time we became dear friends. 

I didn’t know he was a recreational meth user. He didn’t know his partying was about to become an obsession—one that nearly destroyed his life.  

He never looked like the tweakers we’ve all seen pictures of. But he was one all the same. 

And he lost almost everything. His job, his home and his money. His long-time partner and most of his friends. His HIV-negative status. And it all started with meth use that he believed he was managing—until it was clear he wasn’t.   

Just when we thought he had hit bottom, he fell even further.  He struggled to get clean and failed, avoiding his friends and family. With no job or insurance, he became a Center client (though at the time, I didn’t know it), getting his medical care and drugs from us. He began attending recovery meetings at the Center.  

As he wrote to me:  “In the darkest hours of my addiction, the Center was somewhere I turned to for help.” He told me that he could never have believed that his financial support of the Center could one day help to save his own life.  

When I asked him if I could tell his story here, he said yes and told me, “Even when I had given up hope on myself, you, my friends and the Center were there for me. And because of that, I am alive today.”  

My friend is thriving again—clean for more than four years. “In the depths and despair of my addiction, I never believed I could feel and be who I am today. And though my life is not perfect, it is wonderful,” he says.  

So, there is hope, even for those who feel totally hopeless. The Center has been a lifeline for countless people struggling with meth. But I have often wondered, if my friend had realized how suddenly recreational use of meth could turn into a chokehold he couldn’t escape, would he have stopped before he went over the cliff?  

Sadly, our community is littered with the shattered lives of gay men who lulled themselves into a false sense of security that they were handling their meth use. That’s a dangerous place to be.  

If you recognize yourself or someone you know in this story, there is an alternative. At the Center we offer nonjudgmental help that just may be the difference between losing everything and protecting yourself—taking control of your situation before it becomes uncontrollable. 

I have my friend back, which makes me very happy. Nothing would make himhappier than to think his story could help someone else.

By Manny Sanchez

As the organizer of one of the nation’s largest PRIDE celebrations–and host of the world’s first PRIDE parade in 1970—Christopher Street West (CSW)has grown to be the model for PRIDE celebrations throughout the world. What you may not know is that the ties between the Center and CSW run deep.

“The Center and CSW have a rich and connected history that thrives to this day with a year-round spirit of partnership that benefits the greater community,” says Rodney Scott, President of the Board of Directors of CSW.

Indeed, the organizations both share a founder, Morris Kight, one of the leading pioneers of the LGBT rights movement. CSW and the Center have grown to be the largest LGBT organizations of their kind and have served the greater Los Angeles LGBT community for more than 40 years.

As partners, and in line with our commitment to full equality, the organizations work together year-round to raise awareness about issues affectingthe LGBT community and to mobilize steadfast volunteers for each organization’s key events.

Like the Center, CSW’s board is ethnically and culturally diverse, and CSW offers something for everyone— from the 15-year-old trans youth just coming to terms with identity to the 75-year-old lesbian who has been an activist for 50 years and everyone inbetween.

The Center and CSW are united by a commitment to the LGBT community, and the groups work closely together as partners in pride

By Darrel Cummings, Chief of Staff

I remember with vivid and tragic detail my experience during the first decade of the AIDS epidemic. Many others share similar memories. We were forced to battle on many fronts at the same time we were burying our young friends and trying not to be overwhelmed by grief.

As scientists and researchers have learned more about the virus, we’ve held out hope—for a cure and for a vaccine. After all, great advances in medical science and technology have been achieved and it seemed like there were vaccines for nearly everything and new ones being developed all the time. We thought that surely, in a few short years, a vaccine—if not a cure— would be available and this scourge of an epidemic would conclude.

But 32 years later, there is still no vaccine or cure.

Several valiant attempts have been made (and continue to be made), but success always seems to be just out of reach. Meanwhile, the epidemic rages on, disproportionately affecting the gay, bisexual male and transgender members of our community.

Perhaps we in the LGBT community have come to accept the status quo as our normal. Maybe we have given up thinking that a cure or vaccine for HIV will ever be found. And even more profoundly, we may have just let the fatigue, despair and years associated with this epidemic overtake our desire to even think about it.

This issue of Vanguard challenges all of us to think again and anew. It provides reasons to believe that the idea of an AIDS-free generation is possible and that there’s a roadmap (albeit a long and challenging one) that could help us realize this vision. This roadmap does not require a cure or a vaccine, but instead a strategy that combines what HIV/AIDS advocates have learned during the last two decades with the latest advances in biomedicine to make ending HIV, as an epidemic, an achievable objective.

But as has always been the case, this strategy cannot happen without the participation and commitment of our whole community and support from government leaders. We must all be involved and we must leave no one behind.

At the Center, we are committed to doing all we can towards this end because until there is a cure and a vaccine, we owe our community nothing less.

By Stevie St. John

Bravo star Rachel Zoe (The Rachel Zoe Project) was recently honored at a star-studded benefit that raised more than $250,000 for the Center’s homeless youth services.

Rachel Zoe

Heather Graham, Emma Caulfield, Aaron Sorkin, and Daphne Zunigawere among the stars spotted on the red carpet at the Sunset Tower Hotel.

Anne Hathaway presented the award to Zoe, and Kelly Osbourne honored Ana C., a successful and inspiring graduate of the Center’s Transitional Living Program for homeless LGBT youth.

“Ana courageously represents so many kids who have been forgotten by society, forgotten by their own families and left on the streets of Los Angeles to fend for themselves,” says Kathy Kloves, who co-hosted the event with Patrick Herning.

“Because of the Center, these kids have been given a chance; they have been given love and shown the compassion and support that every human being deserves.”

Presenting sponsors were John Goldwyn and Estee Lauder. Platinum sponsors were Saks and Decades. Gold sponsors were WME and NBCUniversal (Bravo Media). Silver sponsors were Karen Kane Design Inc. and David Brian Sanders Interior
Design. Our in-kind sponsors were Virgin America and Audi.

To see more photos from the event,
check out the Facebook gallery.

Big Queer Convo - May 14th

Big Queer Convo - May 14th

Gil Diaz
323-993-7604
gdiaz@lagaycenter.org


*UPDATED PRESS RELEASE*

American Idol’s Crystal Bowersox to Perform at
‘Threads of Change’ Party, Dec. 8

Athletes Jason Collins & Robbie Rogers To Donate Clothes for Homeless LGBT Youth; Iron Fist Clothing Donating $4K Worth of Clothes & Accessories

LOS ANGELES, December 2, 2013—The act of giving during the holidays will feel—and sound—so good this Sunday, December 8, at Eleven Nightclub in West Hollywood, when the Threads of Change clothing drive party returns for its seventh year. The event, sponsored by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Young Professionals Council (YPC), will collect gently used clothes for homeless LGBT youth served by the Center. American Idol finalist Crystal Bowersox from Season 9 will perform her latest single, “Coming Out for Christmas.”

To add to the excitement, out athletes Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers will donate clothes from their closets and Iron Fist Clothing is giving $4,000 worth of clothes and accessories, which will help stock the closet at the Center’s Youth Center on Highland where staff distribute an average of 1,200 clothing items each month.

“Our homeless LGBT youth will stay warmer this season—thanks to Iron Fist and inspirational sports figures like Jason and Robbie who are making a huge difference. We just hope someone can fit into Jason’s clothes!” says YPC member and event co-chair Tommy Johnson. “And to have Crystal entertain our guests with her latest holiday hit will truly make everyone’s spirits brighter. She is ourAmerican Idol!”

Admission to the clothing drive party is free, and guests who donate a bag of gently used clothes will receive a complimentary mimosa.

Items of apparel for men and women in greatest demand are:

·      Gently used casual clothes (of all adult sizes)

·      Gently used professional attire for job interviews

·      Gently used winter coats and sweaters

·      Shoes in excellent condition

·      New socks and underwear

Guests are encouraged to post photos of their fashionable donations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to @LAGayCenter with hashtag#YPCThreads.

Those unable to attend the clothing drive and party can drop off donations at the Youth Center on Highland, 1220 N. Highland Ave., any day between 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Threads of Change sponsors include Bloomingdale’s, Eleven Nightclub & Restaurant, Instinct Magazine, Iron Fist Clothing, LA Pride, Real Rock ‘n’ Roll Movers, and SoCal Social Club.

 WHAT:                       Threads of Change

The seventh annual clothing drive party hosted by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Young Professionals Council to collect apparel for homeless LGBT youth.

Those unable to attend Threads of Change can drop off donations at the Highland Annex, 1220 N. Highland Ave., any day between 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

WHEN:                       Sunday, Dec. 8
Noon-4 p.m.
  
                             

WHERE:                     Eleven Nightclub
8811 Santa Monica Blvd. 
West Hollywood, CA 90069

COST:                       FREE

For more information about Threads of Change, visit lagaycenter.org/threads.

For more information about the YPC, visit facebook.com/lagaycenterypc.

For more information about the Center’s Youth Services, visit lagaycenter.org.

###

About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center 
For more than 40 years, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of LGBT people. We serve more LGBT people than any other organization in the world with services ranging from LGBT specialty care to cultural arts programs; from housing homeless youth to hosting life-enriching programs for seniors. Learn more at lagaycenter.org.

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