2011 Christopher Street West
Los Angeles LGBT PRIDE Honorees
Each year, Christopher Street West recognizes people and groups that have especially impacted the LGBT community. With a demonstrated commitment to greater visibility and understanding, advocacy, human rights, empowerment, marriage equality and service, Christopher Street West is very excited to present the 2011 slate of LA PRIDE Honorees:
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Morris Kight Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual whose lifetime of work has left a lasting major imprint on the LGBT community.
What is a lifetime? Is it the length of time that you are on this earth? The amount of time you spend at work? The volume of experience that you gain? The scope of what you accomplish? Or is it all of them?
Margaret Cho is a young 42 and still going strong. She has a volume of life experience, a catalogue of work that stands on its own and has accomplished more than others twice her age. “Laughing in the face of adversity is a great distraction from the fear of not knowing what it may bring,” said Cho.
Margaret Cho is a comedian, activist and humanitarian bringing laughter to the world, and especially the LGBT community as she advocates for acceptance and equality. The granddaughter of a Methodist minister who ran an orphanage in Seoul during the Korean War, the daughter of a mother who refused an arranged marriage and a father who writes Korean joke books, Cho’s unique background is enhanced with the fact that she was raised in San Francisco during the '70s. Her childhood experience “was a really confusing, enlightening, wonderful time”, Cho said. However, growing up different made Cho race towards adulthood and she found solace in comedy.
“I grew up in this very repressed environment, I just wanted to be rebellious, and I wanted to talk about all the things that I do and be very honest about it.”
By the age of 14, Margaret began writing standup comedy and at 16 began performing professionally. It was not long before her professional career took off and she won the opportunity to open for Jerry Seinfeld. Cho moved to Los Angeles in the early ’90s and was introduced to late night by Arsenio Hall and given a prime time special by Bob Hope. While still in her 20’s, Cho became nationally known.
Margaret Cho is a quadruple threat! She can sing, dance, act and she is funny. With so much talent one may recognize that her purpose is to entertain but she is so much more than an entertainer.
Recently, Margaret Cho was on Dancing with the Stars, during a time when the LGBT community needed a voice speaking to the numerous young gay suicides. “I am very proud to have been able to wear a gay pride dress on a show that is so conservative,” she said. “It is a wonderful thing to have every one remember me … that I took time to acknowledge people who matter to me. I wanted to send an urgent message to gay teenagers to make them feel included and loved. That dress was my statement to them about pride.”
Margaret Cho has been an outspoken advocate and activist for equality within the LGBT community. When asked what she sees as her purpose in the greater LGBT community, Cho said, “I want to fight for equality, to make sure we have equal rights and proper representation in our society. I also want to be there to help the younger generation and be a good mentor for them. LGBT youth need our support and our wisdom. Also, I want to make sure we all have a good time!”
And when Pride Magazine asked Margaret Cho what PRIDE means to her, she said, “I have been attending gay pride celebrations for much of my life, and they have grown and changed so much. It’s so incredible to witness and I am grateful to have been a part of something that is so profound—celebrating ourselves, loving ourselves, being proud of ourselves. It means so much.”
For all that she has accomplished, and all that she will continue to do, Christopher Street West is honored to present Margaret Cho with the 2011 Morris Kight Lifetime Achievement Award.“ This is such a tremendous honor,” Cho said. “I am so excited about this. This is my community, my home and I am very proud of how far we have come in our journey.”
Person of the Year Award
The Person of the Year is that individual who is continually involved in an important undertaking that makes a positive statement for the LGBT community as a whole.
Changing opinion is never easy. Being in a position to affect opinion is often not easy either. But having a national stage from which to influence an entire nation, or at least the portion that tunes into your programming, is a powerful and useful tool.
Emmy and Peabody Award winner, executive producer, high-ranking television executive for a top-tier cable outlet and talk-show host, Andy Cohen is in a position to do just that. He is living openly and honestly, working to bring out and open LGBT people to millions and millions of homes across America.
Andy Cohen is Bravo TV’s Executive Vice President of Programming and Development and host of “Watch What Happens: Live.” He has not shied away from putting LGBT people in front of the camera, and smack dab in the middle of Middle-America’s living room. With shows like Project Runway, Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, Million Dollar Listing and Kathy Griffin – My Life on the D-List, there has been no shortage of open, out and proud members of our community seen weekly on our televisions.
Andy Cohen’s latest venture, “Watch What Happens: Live,” is Bravo TV's late night talk show featuring guests from some of Bravo TV's most popular shows, as well as from the worlds of entertainment, politics and pop culture. As America’s first openly gay late-night talk show host, this has expanded Andy’s ever-growing exposure and what is remarkable is not the addition to the already cluttered late night market, but the fact that Cohen is so open and matter of fact about his sexuality.
In June, 2009, during the reunion show for favorites, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Andy Cohen as host mentioned that he was offended by one of the housewives’ (Teresa’s) husbands’ use of the word gay as an insult. This rare and on-air editorializing and mention of his sexuality is especially impactful given Cohen’s steadily rising profile.
In June, 2010, Andy Cohen was named one of TV Guide’s “25 Most Influential People in Television.” Out Magazine put him on their Out 100 List in 2008 and he more recently appeared on the cover of The Advocate while also being profiled in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly.
As the Bravo TV juggernaut continues to take America by storm—seemingly one Real Housewife at a time—Andy Cohen’s star—both in front of and behind the camera, and ability to continue helping our community—is still on the rise. What comes next? We’ll all have to Watch What Happens!
Dr. Isabel Gómez-Bassols
George Moscone Award
The George Moscone Award recognizes a non-gay individual who furthers human rights and does not shy away from involvement or speaking out on LGBT issues.
Family gives us purpose. It is the first place that we learn to love and to trust; the place that we learn how to become who we are. And when it comes to difficult situations—especially within our families—it is important to have an ally.
The Spanish speaking populations of the United States have that ally in Dr. Isabel Gómez-Bassols. Dr. Isabel is a long time educator and nationally syndicated Spanish-language radio talk-show host. Known as the “la Doctora Isabel, el Angel de la Radio,” which means Doctor Isabel, the Angel of the Airwaves, Gomez-Bassols is the nation’s leading Hispanic radio psychologist and garners 8,000 telephone call attempts per day. Her show, “Doctora Isabel,” airs Monday through Friday, from 1 to 3pm and is broadcast in the top 15 Hispanic markets across the United States and is available to almost 80 percent of Latino households nationwide.
A psychologist with over three decades of experience in adolescent and family counseling, as well as domestic violence expertise, Dr. Isabel has partnered with Bienestar—the leading Latino community service and advocacy organization. Her goal is to speak to mothers directly about how important acceptance is for their LGBT children as they go through the process of coming out to their families.
To show someone you care, sometimes all you have to do is listen. Doctor Isabel demonstrates such care on a daily basis during her show. It reaches an audience that is sometimes unheard and it is this audience that she listens to, speaks for and educates on such far ranging topics as interpersonal relationships, personal well being and the LGBT community.
According to Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project, family acceptance and rejection have a profound impact on the physical and mental health of Latino LGBT young people, including suicidal behavior, depression, substance abuse, HIV, STD’s and self-esteem.
Understanding this, Doctor Isabel cares, whole-heartedly, and with purpose; working to help guide her listeners by speaking honestly, carefully and with true convictions. She is striving to better not only the Hispanic community, but all communities, including the LGBT community.
CSW is proud to present the George Moscone Award to Dr. Isabel Gómez-Bassols, in recognition of her continued embodiment of PRIDE 365: Power. Passion. Purpose, crossing so many boundaries throughout the country and communities and working to enhance life for all.
Harvey Milk Award
Purpose, perseverance and passion are just few adjectives that describe Suzy Jack. She is a progressive activist deeply-rooted in the political arena and is helping the LGBT community.
Suzy Jack currently serves as the LGBTQ Liaison for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as the Liaison to the LA City Council. As the primary point of contact for the LGBTQ community, she advises and briefs the Mayor on LGBTQ policy and issues. In this position, she also works to increase accessibility to local government for LGBTQ communities and organizations.
“It was Suzy who put the spotlight on LGBT (especially Trans) issues in the Mayor’s Office and was instrumental in pushing them forward with her gumption,” said Shirin Buckman, of the Stonewall Young Democrats. “She prioritizes what’s right over political expedience and that is why I admire her.”
Having come out in high school, Jack realized the struggles ahead of her. At 18, she moved cross-country from conservative small-town Pennsylvania, to the big city – Los Angeles. She graduated magna cum laude from USC with a degree in American Studies and Ethnicity. In addition she served as Vice President of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance.
Suzy Jack co-founded and co-chairs the grassroots organization FAIR (Freedom, Action, Inclusion, Rights). FAIR is working on achieving marriage equality in California through the innovative use of social media and art.
“Suzy strives to make local government, elected officials and law enforcement more accessible, responsive and collaborative with LGBTQ communities and organizations,” said Karina Samala, CSW board member.
Suzy Jack works to continue to reaffirm the LGBT community’s place in Los Angeles. She collaborates with community partners and City staff to establish annual events including the annual Harvey Milk Day of Service and Mayor Villaraigosa’s LGBT Garden Party honoring CSW. She is actively engaged with both the City’s Transgender Working Group and the Los Angeles Police Department who are working together to create policy changes to improve LAPD’s interactions with the transgender community.
Christopher Street West is proud to honor Suzy Jack with the Harvey Milk Award in recognition of her selfless dedication to achieving equal rights for all.
Connie Norman Award
The Connie Norman Award recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding achievement in fostering racial, ethnic, religious and gender unity within the LGBT community. This award is named for transsexual Connie Norman, who fought tirelessly for the rights of people with HIV/AIDS.
The first step to making a difference is believing you can. Asian Pacific Islander Equality-Los Angeles (API Equality-L.A.) is doing more than believing, they are making that difference.
“API Equality-L.A. was founded in 2005 in response to protests against marriage equality by Chinese Christians in the San Gabriel Valley,” said Karin Wang, Vice President of Programs for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “API Equality-L.A. has tirelessly advocated in the Asian/Pacific Islander community for marriage equality and the fair treatment of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
API Equality-L.A. has demonstrated significant impact within the Asian Pacific Islander community. “For example, exit poll data from the 2000 (Prop 22) and 2008 (Prop 8) elections show that API voters shifted in favor of marriage equality at a much more rapid pace than the general electorate or other communities of color,” Wang said.
Since 2008, API Equality-Lahars raised enough funds to hire an Executive Director and conduct research on messaging to API voters. They have placed op-eds in ethnic newspapers and built relationships through service projects with API churches.
API Equality-LA co-founded Q*POC-LA (Queer People of Color – LA), with Latino Equality Alliance and Jordan Rustin Coalition. Q*POC-LA focuses on communities of color raising the profile of people of color within the LGBT community, uniting API, African American and Latinos LGBT people in a unique collaborative effort.
Christopher Street West is proud to present the Connie Norman Award to API Equality-L.A. CSW recognizes their outstanding achievements in its work within various ethnic communities and their efforts to build bridges and gain marriage equality for the entire LGBT community.
Youth of Gay Straight Alliance Network
Outstanding Youth Award
Acceptance is crucial—especially when you are a teenager facing all the hurdles of growing up, learning who you are and establishing yourself in society. Add being LGBT, and you begin to see what it is that so many of our youth face today.
“GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) Network is a youth leadership organization that empowers youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools by training student leaders and supporting student-led Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in California and throughout the country,” said Daniel E. Solis, Southern California Program Manager. “GSA Network’s youth advocates have played a key role in changing laws and policies that impact youth at the local and State level.”
GSA’s are student-run organizations that foster understanding and acceptance within school communities of students who are not all the same. These are assisted by GSA Network, whose mission is to create safe environments in which students can support each other and learn about homophobia and other oppressions.
In a unique hybrid, youth from the GSA Network from around California—leaders in their schools and active in extra-curricular activities—serve on the statewide board along side dedicated adults who bring a wide array of real world experience. By providing such in-depth leadership and activist training for youth, GSA Network is building a generation of leaders for LGBT rights and social justice. As a youth-driven organization, GSA Network brings the voices and perspectives of youth to the forefront of the LGBTQ movement.
“I see the importance of young people making a difference now—gay and straight uniting for something that they know is right. They are our future and they will pave the path for the next generation. It is our duty to encourage and support our youth any way that we can. The GSA Network is a small glimpse of what's to come and I can't wait for it,” said Joe Nevarez, CSW Communications Intern.
Youth are self-identifying as LGBTQ at younger and younger ages, some as early as middle school, and that is why GSA’s are so important. These brave individuals face more than just growing pains; they face harassment and bullying and often without a supportive, knowledgeable or safe school environment.
It is for all that the youth of GSA’s around the State of California do to improve the school environments for themselves, with the help of GSA Network, that Christopher Street West proudly awards them the Outstanding Youth Award for 2011.
Torie Osborn / Dick Michaels
Being the eyes and ears of LA’s LGBT community is no small task. Frontiers Magazine has spent 29 years doing just that.
Frontiers published its first issue in 1982—the founders included Bob Craig, Greg Carmack and Jerry Hyde. Since that time, the magazine has been a resource for the LGBT community during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, the establishment of the City of West Hollywood and throughout the continued efforts of all LGBT people to gain full equality.
Today, Frontiers spotlights issues important to our community and provides an LGBT voice on current issues while reflecting on lifestyle trends in Southern California. It provides a one-stop resource for news, events, lifestyle, arts and entertainment coverage, as well as reporting on LGBT-friendly businesses, products and services.
Frontiers works to inform its readers of landmark moments in our community’s fight for equal rights, documenting the coming out stories of celebrities and the noted and keeping its readers abreast of advancements in HIV/AIDS research and treatment.
“It must be noted that the magazine’s existence is intrinsically tied to the history of gay rights in Southern California and nationwide. Looking back, it is amazing to see not only how our community has progressed, but also how far we have yet to go,” said David Stern, Frontiers’ publisher.
Christopher Street West is proud to award the Torie Osborn / Dick Michaels Media Award to Frontiers Magazine, in recognition of its indelible service to the LGBT community through their media outlets.
Pat Parker Arts Award
Before history is written, it is lived. Before it is retold, it is remembered. History not recorded is easily lost. As Project Director for Impact Stories, Glenne McElhinney is helping to remember, record and re-tell the history of California’s LGBT Community.
Glenne McElhinney, a native Californian, was raised in the Bay Area. Growing up, she learned to appreciate the rich and diverse history that is California. In 2007, she launched a statewide oral history project called Impact Stories. Its purpose is to document California’s LGBT movement of the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Gathering stories from the personal accounts of those that lived it, Impact Stories is focused on the period of social change when California’s LGBT community set in motion a human rights movement that soon swept the rest of the west coast, the United States and the world. Preserving this preeminent history, and having these inspiring stories shared and accessible, will allow us all to continue to be inspired.
From the stories and histories collected, Glenne McElhinney created On These Shoulders We Stand—a documentary about the Los Angeles LGBT community—serving as producer and director. On These Shoulders We Stand premiered at Outfest in 2009 and was awarded the Special Programming Award for Freedom. McElhinney also co-curated the historical exhibit Dykes on Bikes: 30 Years at the Forefront at the San Francisco GLBT Historical Society.
Impact Stories has received the Monette-Horwitz Trust Fellowship, in part due to the efforts of Glenne McElhinney. This very special grant supports individuals and projects working to end homophobia in the United States.
McElhinney is a member of the National Council on Public History, the Oral History Association, Bay Area Women in Film and Media and the International Documentary Association. She works tirelessly to preserve California’s cultural history—especially the powerful and purposeful stories that shape the LGBT community. Through film, she defines her purpose as a historian and an activist, working to help each person remember so that future generations will know what came before.
Christopher Street West is honored to award Glenne McElhinney the Pat Parker Arts Award in recognition of her ongoing support for the LGBT community through the Arts.
Berman Schaffer Award
“Valerie Spencer is a special, gifted and courageous individual. She is true to her convictions and knows her purpose,” said Karina Samala, CSW board member.
Valerie Spencer is a transgender advocate and educator. A native of Southern California, she works in the arena of social services—specifically representing HIV prevention and service delivery as it relates to the transgender community. Spencer has worked with a diverse array of organizations and agencies—including health departments and universities and developed Los Angeles County’s first curriculum addressing transgenderism from the perspective of people of color. In addition, she has presented to community groups and at conferences around the country.
Valerie Spencer describes herself as “being a woman from birth but discovering that just a bit later.” Her personal directive is simple—to make the complex comprehensive. “Trans-issues are very diverse, often moving into areas more commonly ignored by mainstream society: sexism, gender phobia, poverty and marginalization as a whole,” Spencer said.
Valerie Spencer co-developed and co-facilitated the Transgender Leadership Academy, a collaborative effort between the Los Angeles Transgender Youth Consortium and the FTM Alliance. “This was a ground-breaking effort to build our leaders. In the past, transgender leadership came into being by way of osmosis. This was a chance to take all of the information that we as leaders have gained, share it in a constructive manner and shape our mavericks of the future,” she said
Spencer has an artistic side as well. She co-starred in the 2004 V-Day production of “The Vagina Monologues,” featuring an all trans-woman cast. In addition, Spencer was featured in the documentary, “Beautiful Daughters,” which aired on Logo and Showtime television.
“We are a special, gifted and courageous people who have been caught by the diversions of labeling, self-hate and misunderstanding. But there is hope and this hope will move us to the greatness of who we really are,” Spencer said.
Valerie Spencer has made forward-development and comprehensive dialogue her movement. For all that she has done for the transgender community, the LGBT community and the community at large that Christopher Street West is proud to honor her with the Berman / Schaffer Award.
Sheldon Andelson Award
A dark bar. Hot guys in leather. And cold beer. Just another night at the EAGLE LA.
A place where all are welcome to come and celebrate their sexuality and to meet others doing the same. An atmosphere where gays and lesbians could celebrate life—what the EAGLE LA is all about.
A good night out with friends can be so much more when you patronize places that support and give back to our community.
“The EAGLE LA is a central location for the Los Angeles leather community and a home for the young guys who venture east of La Brea. It attracts a cross-section of the community,” said Durk Dehner, Co-Founder and President of Tom of Finland Foundation.
Reopening in 2006, the EAGLE LA has been a major supporter of many causes near and dear to the hearts of the LGBT community including Los Angeles Leather Coalition (LALC), APLA, Being Alice, Aid for AIDS, Trevor Project, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Tom of Finland Foundation, Tweakers Project, Camp Laurel and the Lazy Bear Fund.
“Knowing the depth of need in our community, it is an honor to be able to serve the community in which I live,” said Hunter Fox, General Manager of the EAGLE LA.
Because of their efforts on behalf of our community, the EAGLE LA’s staff and management have received numerous awards including the Rainbow Key Award from the City of West Hollywood, Southland Honors Business of the Year, 2007 and Pantheon of Leather Business of the Year, 2007.
“The location has always been a popular bar, but it was the current ownership that has taken it to the next level, making it a community gathering place that is always willing to help,” Dehner continued.
The EAGLE LA has successfully created a location for multiple generations, where sub-cultures and organizations can mix and mingle, connect and bond. It is a place for old leather hands to mix with those just exploring what it is all about. And the EAGLE LA is always looking at ways to help our community. “We enjoy hosting fundraisers for groups and organizations,” said Charlie Matula, EAGLE LA owner.
For their continued support of the community, and for their willingness to always be helpful, Christopher Street West proudly honors the EAGLE LA with the 2011 Sheldon Andelson Award.
Sergeant James Farrell
CWS Special Community Award
Sergeant James “Jimmy” Farrell, of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, serves as the Community Relations / Special Event Sergeant for the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. 18 of his 23 years with the LASD have been spent in West Hollywood.
A multiple award winner for his numerous contributions to public safety, Sergeant Farrell currently manages all the high-profile special events here, including LA PRIDE, while also supervising the COPPS Team (Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving) and bicycle patrol. He is a leader in law enforcement and a key ally for the LGBT community.
“As a leader in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, I commit myself to honorably performing my duties with respect for the dignity of all persons, integrity to do right and fight wrongs, wisdom to apply common sense and fairness in all I do and courage to stand against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and bigotry in all its forms,” said Sergeant Farrell.
“Jimmy does not see himself as the straight guy doing this—he is a plain old fashioned good guy who operates from his head and his heart,” said Lynda Castro, retired LASD Commander.
Christopher Street West, and the greater LGBT community, has benefitted immensely from having an ally in Sgt. Farrell. He is thoughtful, respectful and understands the unique challenges we sometimes face and has helped foster greater understanding and acceptance among the law enforcement community.
Christopher Street West recognizes Sergeant James Farrell for his outstanding community service to all and proudly awards him the CSW Special Community Award.