For a few hours Saturday night, Aug. 18, the LGBT world was a brave and wonderful place. The Equality California Awards gala honored leading LGBT ally Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LA Children’s Hospital’s Division of Adolescent Medicine and their extraordinary transgender program, and Sanie Andres, who was presented with the State Farm Good Neighbor Award. Andres is an endearing marriage and family therapist and community activist in the Antelope Valley - once a haven for Skinheads that still claimed the highest rate of hate crimes in post-Prop 8 2008 and continues to deal with such hatred.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart emceed with humor and aplomb – but also noted that he and his boyfriend Nick Schmit had a brief unexpected encounter with homophobia while walking hand-in-hand along Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills.(Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart emceed the gala. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Villaraigosa has attended several EQCA dinners, often serving to introduce the elected officials and candidates who have worked with the statewide LGBT lobbying group on legislation or seek EQCA’s endorsement. This time, the mayor was the honoree – to the delight of the roughly 500 participants gathered at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.(LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressing the EQCA audience. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Villaraigosa was introduced by Equality California Institute Board President Cary Davidson and EQCA Board President Clarissa Filgioun, who hyperbolically suggested that it was Villaraigosa who nudged President Obama to come out in support of marriage equality. After declaring “what we all know to be true – the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional,” Mayor Villaraigosa, who is chairing the Democratic Party’s convention Sept 4-6, said:
“I need to clarify – I had absolutely nothing to do with the next thing. But I will say that I’m very proud that the President of the United States of America Barack Obama has declared his support for marriage equality. And the full Democratic Party, as you’ve heard, is now poised to follow the lead. In a little less than two weeks, Democrats will meet in Charlotte for the convention. The Platform Committee for the Democratic National Convention has unanimously voiced its support fro including marriage equality in the Party’s Platform. So let me tell you this: as Chairman of the convention, it will give me great satisfaction to bang the gavel and declare the Plank officially adopted!
Now we’ve rightly celebrated these legal and political victories. But amidst all of this triumph is still a tragedy. We still live in a world where gay teens are bullied for the simple fact of being who they are. We still live in a world where millions of people still cannot fulfill one of the most basic of human desires – they can’t leally marry the person they love. So this is what we fight for. We fight for rights. We fight for good laws. We fight for justice. But we also fight for something else – something closer to the heart than legal codes and licenses. We fight for the simple freedom to be who we are. We fight for a world where every young person can grow up and discover themselves without violence, without prejudice, with pride. We fight for something very simple but very profound: we fight for love. We fight for humanity. So we will keep on pushing because it’s the only way that progress will be made – and because the other side still doesn’t get it. They still don’t get that bigotry and bias have no place in our laws or in our Constitution.
It was a refreshing antidote to the nasty slush of antigay commentary drenching the online world (see John Aravois’s response to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank) prompted by the recent senseless shooting at the Family Research Council by what Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin called “an obviously disturbed man.” FRC is distraught over being called a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center but several bloggers (including AmericaBlog and Truth Wins Out ) point out that FRC deserves the appellation.(State Sen. Ted Lieu presenting the State Farm Good Neighbor Award to Antelope Valley activist Sanie Andres with Jonathan Capehart helping out. Photo by Faye Sadou)
Also moving and refreshing was State Farm Good Neighbor Award honoree Sanie Andres whose casual and self-effacing good humor belied the courage of the gay man who helped found the LGBT youth group The Out Project in the Antelope Valley.
Andres was introduced by State Sen. Ted Lieu who urged the audience to talk to their family, friends and neighbors to call Assemblymembers to pass his bill SB 1172 – that would prevent licensed therapists from using junk science to try to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Antigay Christian opponents of the bill say it takes away parental rights and are working hard to defeat it. But in fact, SB 1172 protects parents from unscrupulous charlatans who use the apparent legitimacy conferred by their state license to entice and manipulate parents confused and pained by their children’s sexual identity.(Sanie Andrews moves the crowd. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Andres talked about how he was content to be an openly gay marriage and family therapist and help others come out – until California voters passed Prop 8 four years ago. He was “enraged” and stunned into disbelief. That anger opened his eyes and triggered a new, profound sense of activism. In explaining his transformation, Andres provides a kind of guide for others in the same situation:
I realized [what he had been doing] was not enough. But I did know what to do. Being gay in the Antelope Valley – that was an anomaly. Helping other gays in the Antelope Valley – tell me – that was a mystery. Luckily my roommate had stumbled upon a brochure for the Antelope Valley LGBT Community Center and left it on our kitchen counter. I wrote them an email – hoping I could write letters, stuff envelopes, put stamps on things. Four years later, I’m still waiting for those envelopes – and happy to put a stamp on anything. From that, they asked me to start our youth program. They told me they’d been struggling for several months to get it off the ground. There were three young people in a warehouse in the back of an SEIU unions building and they met once a month. I thought, oh my goodness – what am I going to do?
From there – a lovely couple of 19 and 20 years old – Nester and Robert – walked in. They had no idea what we had to offer. I had no idea what we had to offer. All I could say was that I loved them and that I was here to support them. From there, they brought their friends. And their friends keep coming. They know where I live, they invade my house, and they still keep coming.(Honoree Sanie Andres Photo by Faye Sadou)
From that three came a core group of 20 and they established The Out Project. They developed their own mission statement, a structure for governance, and a passion for creating social change that pushed me even beyond my comfort limits. They saw my vision for the organization: create and reach out to GSAs on our local high school campuses and teach them to be leaders. They would take over as our future youth [and community] leaders…in the Antelope Valley. And today, I’m happy that Robert – who was our first youth president, is now a permanent member of the Board of Directors.
Dr. Marvin Belzer, head of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, couldn’t contain his incredibly infectious smile. He explained that Children’s Hospital has a 30- year history of helping LGBT homeless youth and doing research into HIV. And for 20 of those years, the doctors, psychologists and other providers (including Arlene Schneir, MPH and trans activist Bamby Salcedo, HIV Health Education Services Project Coordinator) have not only trained clinicians from around the world – but have provided leadership to make the transgender youth program so effective, “we now have the largest and most comprehensive youth program in the United States.”(EQCA Award honorees Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Division of Adolescent Medicine staff and youth alumni. Photo by Faye Sadou)
Among their success stories – and living proof of the importance of helping trans kids before they hit puberty – is Aly Flores who found the Division of Adolescent Medicine and asked for trans health services at age 14. She is now a successful student at The Fashion Institute. The room was riveted by Aly’s story:(Children’s Hospital trans alumni Aly Flores. Photo by Faye Sadou)
Thank you for giving me the chance to speak today. I’ve been seeing a therapist since 2007 since I was 12, which was the age I came out to my parents. I went through a few different therapists and psychiatrists. One told me I had social anxiety disorder. Another said I was gay. And another told me I had ‘daddy issues.’ I wanted to say, ‘Shut Up, please!’ My main problem was that I wanted to get on hormones.
I was trying to beat the onset of puberty – that was my goal and I felt stuck. So I went online and found an article that talked about Dr. Belzer being one of the few doctors in the country prescribing hormones to 12-year-old youth. So I did a Google search, found his phone number, and I told my mom and of course, I called him.
Then when I was 13, I started to meet with the case manager of the Division – Bamby – who’s in audience. And with the great therapist Shann [Collotzi], I was soon able to work with Dr. Belzer on my physical transition. I started hormones when I was 14, right before I hit puberty.
I was still in middle school then and middle school was not easy. I was seen as different and not treated very well by the other students. So even though I was transitioning, I lived as a boy to protect myself throughout school. It seems like so long ago. But that was only four years ago since I started working with the staff at the Division. I feel so accepted and interested by all the staff I work with there. I also joined a support group at the Division and I’ve been going there for two years.
When I was about to start high school, I literally chose my name the night before I had to go register. My mom and I decided and, well, I really thought of my name. High school was still lonely but I have Sean and the trans group to talk to. It is scary to transition and start high school, given what I went through in middle school. But I was happier and I was physically myself.
I’m now 17 and in my first year of Fashion college. I worry about having six classes. I worry about my hair. I do not worry about being trans.(Aly Flores at the EQCA Awards gala Aug. 18. Photo by Faye Sadou)
The room erupted with a thunderous ovation and appreciative laughter.
Contacted later, Bamby Salcedo explained that standards of care do not permit hormone therapy until a young person is 15 or 16 and “it’s important to have the parent’s support.” However, she said, there are “hormone blockers” that can be used to prevent unwanted gender characteristics from developing with puberty, before utilizing actual hormone therapy.Actor Wilson Cruz, Children’s Hospital trans activist staffer Bamby Salcedo, Dr. Brent Polk and trans Fashion College student Aly Flores. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Salcedo also said that the Angels of Change 2013 Calendar release and runway show will take place on Saturday, Oct. 27, starting with a VIP reception at 5:00PM and runway show at 6:00PM with Calpernia Adams and Kelly Mantle hosting the show. (For more information, contact Bamby Salcedo, HIV Health Education Services Project Coordinator, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Ph. (323) 361-5983 Fax. (323) 913-3614 email@example.com).
Also taking center stage were the elected officials and candidates for political office seeking LGBT votes. This year, longtime EQCA board member Assemblymember Betsy Butler introduced the candidates.(EQCA Board member and Assemblymember Betsy Butler, a candidate for the 50th AD, introduced the candidates for elective office. Photo by Faye Sadou) (Openly gay Luis Lopez, a candidate for the 51st AD, waves to the audience watched by openly gay Assemblymember Ricardo Lara who is pushing an LGBTQ Bill of Rights through the Legislature. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
The event, produced by Jack Lorenz, had many moving moments with its particular focus on LGBT youth and few people wanted to divert attention from the gala to discuss issues I raised in “The Hollow EQCA,” a critical analysis of the organization after Rebekah Orr, the last senior staff member, resigned earlier this month
Since the gala, I’ve spoken with numerous EQCA supporters and board members who pushed back on “The Hollow EQCA” (though off the record), saying the work of the organization during this transition period is strong and going forward, the board is vigorously engaged, the finances and the plan to recruit a new executive director are on track, and in fact, for all my hue and cry about the lack of outreach and information about what EQCA is doing – the 2012 San Diego Equality Awards and Garden Party, scheduled for this Saturday, August 25, is almost sold out so someone’s getting information.(EQCA! Board President Cary Davidson and EQCA Board President Clarissa Filgioun keynoting the gala. Photo by Faye Sadou)
EQCAI Board President Cary Davidson suggested that I sit down with him, EQCA Board President Clarissa Filgioun, and Interim ED Laurie Hasencamp in a few weeks (after Hasencamp returns from vacation) during which all my questions would be answered. Sounds like a good idea, especially if all or at least most of the meeting is on the record. This is key since there seems to be a considerable disconnect between the board’s understanding of how the organization should operate and the views of some grassroots activists and movement leaders on if and how the organization is carrying out its mission and responsibilities without an officially hired, publically recognizable, politically savvy executive director and senior staff.
It’s been 10 months since Executive Director Roland Palencia officially resigned on Oct. 14, 2011 – when he also announced that the board would present a transition plan within days. On Oct. 20, 2011, Orr said the board “wanted to take the time for a more deliberative transition process.” But she also confirmed that the previous recruiting firm of Morris & Berger – about which there had been many complaints -had not yet been reengaged. I also learned that Joe McCormack from the recruiting firm of McCormack & Associates – had offered to help EQCA in their original search but his proposal was not even considered by the board. McCormack recognized the urgency of finding “the right leader” for EQCA – not just for the organization but also for the LGBT movement. He wrote in an email to me:
As Roland Palencia recently parted company with Equality California, it’s urgent that they find the right leader to advance the cause of LGBT rights in California. There is no margin for error this time, and we would like to be of assistance in identifying an exceptional executive director for the organization.
You may know that we recruited Rebecca Isaacs to the Equality Federation, Kara Suffredini to MassEquality and Lee Swislow to GLAD. We are presently seeking an Executive Director for Amnesty International USA in New York.
Our proposal to assist EQCA on this search initially was turned down because—we believe—of the mistaken perception that we are too much a part of the “gay boys’ network” to produce a diversified panel of qualified candidates. A look at our record, however, would show that nearly 40% of our placements are people of color and over 60% are women, often the first to hold the senior leadership position in the client organization.(EQCA Interim ED Laurie Hassencamp and her husband at the play ’8.’ Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Finally, in February, Laurie Hasencamp was brought on as an Interim ED – with the understanding that she would stay for four-six months and primarily serve as an administrator. In fact, EQCA didn’t start their renewed search for a new ED until May, at her three-month mark. But now time’s up and Hasencamp is on her pre-planned vacation, missing the LA Equality Awards.
But there is still no indication that the EQCA Board has any sense of urgency about hiring a new ED, a director with political leadership to vigorously guide LGBT Californians through the upcoming the elections. Theoretically, this should be the time EQCA issues a mighty call for all hands on deck and launches their strategic media and public engagement plan to push for EQCA’s endorsed candidates – with a visionary ED driving and inspiring field staff on the ground in districts where added support could make a difference and coalition building with other groups to defeat antigay/anti-progressive elected officials and measures. Instead, the president of the EQCA board makes an avoidable political error during a keynote introduction that the honoree has to clean up in real time. While at least one supporter of the organization thought the mistake was a minor gaffe, just a “hiccup” in an otherwise splendid evening, hardcore politicos know that such a gaffe by the “face” of EQCA besmirches the organization’s political reputation.(Attorney, former CAPE Board member and EQCA ED Geoff Kors with Human Rights Campaign Board member Diane Abbitt, who became EQCA PAC President. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
This is a critical election year with Democrats trying to win back the House and Republicans trying to consolidate their congressional majority by winning the Senate. But the November election will be marked as yet another missed opportunity for EQCA to be an effective movement leader – this time on the federal level, when the organization is most needed. During his tenure, former ED Geoff Kors and his board insisted on full equality as the standard for endorsement – which is why Sen. Barbara Boxer was never invited to speak at an EQCA event until she supported marriage equality (which was after her more conservative Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein). He had plans to extend the EQCA endorsements to federal offices in California, as well, in order to expand and push the successful equality agenda. By now, EQCA’s Political Director would have been working closely with openly gay Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, who’s made it clear the Democrats are counting on California to help them win back the House. But with Kors’ departure, the board let slip the opportunity to become a major player with the Human Rights Campaign, the California Democratic Party and the progressive CREDO SuperPAC, in defeating such vulnerable antigay Republicans as Reps. Dan Lungren (R-Sacramento), Jeff Denham (R-Modesto) and Brian Bilbray (R-San Diego), who co-sponsored Missouri Republican Todd “legitimate rape” Akin’s bill (HR-3) to narrow the definition of rape.
At the EQCA gala Saturday night, Davidson and Filgioun both welcomed the crowd and talked about the pride they take in the work EQCA has done in the past year.
“Because of our leadership transition, greater demands have been placed on our Equality California family. This is particularly true of our boards as we move through the search process to identify and select Equality California’s next executive director. We are pleased with the process and look forward to keeping you posted about our progress.”
The boards received a rousing ovation when recognized by Davidson, who also noted that the EQCA “staff of 50” has been “working diligently to move the needle closer to LGBT equality. We are in awe….Thank you.”
“We are in the business of building a state of equality so lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids can grow up knowing they are safe and affirmed at school and at home….
Our priorities are ambitious – and that’s as it should be. Our families and our young people deserve nothing less. And not a single one of us can sit idly by. We must protect our pro-equality legislative majority. We must advance meaningful legislation that impacts LGBT youth and protects LGBT families. We must defend against attacks on the FAIR Education Act and other hard-won gains for equality. And we must neutralize the lie used by our opponents that LGBT equality harms kids. That falsehood prevents us from securing full and lasting equality, including the freedom to marry.”
In addition to six pieces of legislation and a state-funded study to examine the disparities in mental healthcare (see the EQCA mid-year report here), the two board presidents said they have “retained experts to engage in cutting edge research to better understand the arguments successfully employed by our opponents. And we are working with 16 coalition partners to engage in Breakthrough Conversations with friends and family members, as well as strangers, to confront the falsehoods offered by those opposed to equality.”
“The tide has definitely turned toward equality,” said Davidson, noting that the night was devoted to acknowledging “the heroes who embody the values of our movement – freedom, respect, fairness and courage.”
Acknowledging heroes is important. But in a crazy year such as this – with 11 weeks to go before one of the most important elections in our lifetime – I was surprised not to hear a rousing get-out-the-vote section in the keynote speech. There are two openly lesbian candidates in Stockton – in the important, too often overlooked middle of the state – who could probably use all the help they can get (Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani running for State Senate and City Councilmember Susan Talamantes Eggman for the Assembly ). There was no incitement to spread the word about the endorsed candidates – or an articulated strategy on how to connect with and mobilize the LGBT youth vote. This is of particular importance this year since that Barack Obama-inspired youth vote of four years ago has evaporated. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
For many in the youth voter registration business, those conversations [about registering] have a much different tone from four years ago, when a record 23 million young people cast ballots. It was the first time that voters under 30 made up a higher percentage of the electorate than those who were more than 65 years old.
But this year, major organizations who register young voters, from HeadCount to Rock the Vote, project no increase in youth voter registration over four years ago.
Part of the reason is that enthusiasm among under-3o voters has faded like the colors in Shepard Fairey’s iconic 2008 “Hope” poster of Obama – and that will hurt the president, who received two-thirds of the support among 18- to 30-year-olds in 2008.
Clearly, during this long and economically fraught transition, EQCA doesn’t have the capacity to do all it wishes to do or fill the gaps no doubt frustrating their still loyal staff. There is no Political Director, for instance. But then, why no silent auction at the gala – which usually brings in about $35,000? According to OutThink Partners’ Steve Roth, serving as EQCA’s communication person:
“We made a strategic decision to focus our efforts on the in-person ‘ask’ at this event. There are more costs associated with producing a silent auction, and we anticipated a higher return on investment if we focused on the ‘ask’ for this particular event. We also wanted to use the space in the reception area to feature the exhibits from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, which we felt tied in well with the evening. We will be hosting a silent auction at our San Diego event, where historically the silent auction has been more successful for us.”(The late Frontiers publisher Bob Craig with LIFE Lobby ED Laurie McBride in the early 1990s. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Despite Davidson’s promise to me that the leadership would answer all my questions during a future interview, I was disheartened when Roth refused my request for the early numbers of how much was raised at the gala. For years covering LIFE Lobby, CAPE and EQCA, event fundraising numbers were always disclosed to me, including the breakdowns of the totals into gross, net, ticket sales, auction, and pitch. Nonetheless, Roth emailed me that:
“Equality California does not release fundraising results from individual events. Our total results for funds raised at events throughout the year are aggregated and released in our yearend financial report. We’re very pleased with the results of the LA Equality Awards, which were on target with our expectations. Both our San Francisco and Los Angeles Awards were profitable and successful. And we’re looking forward to our San Diego event next week, which is nearly sold out, and our Palm Springs event in October.”
Being unaware of precedent and the refusal to be transparent reflect a kind of cavalier attitude towards the importance of accurate institutional knowledge. But perhaps even more importantly, it casually shrugs off a deeper sense of obligation to share information with the LGBT public EQCA purports to represent. We are a long ways from the days when the late Frontiers publisher Bob Craig was Treasurer of LIFE Lobby and featured a column by ED Laurie McBride in every issue of the magazine in the early 1990s. This year, publisher David Stern, who usually buys a table, wasn’t even aware that the LA Equality Awards gala was taking place last Saturday. How is it that the state’s LGBT lobbying organization didn’t find it important enough to engage the primary LGBT media outlet in Los Angeles? But Stern wasn’t alone in not knowing about the event; several key political leaders were unaware of the Aug. 18 event, as well. How many tables, potential sponsorship and revenue slipped through the cracks because the one EQCA staff member left in the Develop Department was too overwhelmed to reach out or follow up?
Remember, Davidson told the crowd: “We are pleased with the process [of the ED search] and look forward to keeping you posted about our progress.” How? When? The same firm that recommended Roland Palencia is conducting the ED search – but this time, to my knowledge, there have been no requests for community input. Nor has EQCA made any effort to reach out and engage the community through town halls or online meet ups – an effort that had been promised under the revised new mission enthusiastically proposed by Palencia and supported by the board.
But almost more importantly, there appears to be a fundamental shift happening to the organization that hopefully Davidson, Filgioun, and Hasencamp can explain. It appears as if the board is deconstructing Equality California from a living, breathing lobbying organization with an inspired and committed staff to a more business-like model with a Board-led group of consultants who oversee and execute specific programs and plans. That’s one question for the future interview: which is more cost effective – a consultant from a firm with other time-consuming clients or a dedicated staff that does tons of overtime for free because they care about the organization and movement?
“I am a consultant for Equality California. EQCA retained my firm, OutThink Partners, to serve as the organization’s primary point of contact with the media. EQCA has brought on consultants like Alice Kessler, my firm OutThink Partners, and others, to help them keep important work moving forward while providing them with increased flexibility and good stewardship of donor dollars.”(Legislative consultant Alice Kessler has a huge fan club. Photo by Karen Ocamb)
Mind you, Alice Kessler is a former EQCA Government Affairs Director and no doubt the main brain behind EQCA’s legislative effectiveness. No one questions her heart or loyalty to EQCA. But Kessler, too, is a hired hand, a consultant with the Sacramento firm of DiMare, Van Vleck & Brown. If there is a conflict between work for EQCA and work for a bigger, more important client to the firm – which would get her concentration and time? And given the weight of her work, how is she doing it with no additional resources provided by EQCA?
Like Kessler, Davidson and Filgioun undoubtedly love Equality California – just look at all their volunteer hours. And as Board presidents, they have accepted the leadership responsibility to keep EQCA afloat. But they also have a responsibility to the state’s LGBT community and to the LGBT movement the organization serves. And that means bursting that patronizing “just trust us” Board bubble and becoming more transparent and engaged with people who can’t afford to go to their galas. Hopefully, more will be revealed in that future interview.
Here are more photos from the gala:(EQCA Board member and social justice heroine Dolores Huerta with EQCA honoree LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Photo by Faye Sadou) (New EQCA Board member attorney David Codell (rt) and Daniel Brownstone, of San Francisco, a new Board member of EQCA Institute. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Stonewall Young Democrats President Michael Colorge with Assembly candidate Reggie Jones Sawyer and SYD Ops VP Rosalba Gonzalez. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Actress Jane Lynch and her wife Dr. Laura Embry. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Lambda Legal’s Legal Director Jon Davidson (rt) with Lambda staff attorneys Peter Renn and Tara Borelli. Photo by Karen Ocamb) EQCA gala emcee and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart and his boyfriend Nick Schmit. (Jackie Lacey, candidate for LA County District Attorney. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (LA City Council candidate Matt Szabo with Chuck Williams, founder of the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (EQCA Board member Assemblymember Betsy Butler, candidate for re-election in the 50th AD, with her friend and state senate candidate, openly gay Assemblymember Ricardo Lara. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Point Foundation CEO Jorge Valencia (center) and his boyfriend (rt) Film Independent co-president Sean McManus with friend. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Katherine Spillar, Executive Vice President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Longtime AIDS activist and Bienestar CEO Oscar de la O. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (The Wall Las Memorias Founder and CEO Richard Zaldivar. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Jack Davis, 17 year old trainee with the Breakthrough Conversations program. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (State Sen. Ted Lieu, author of the “ex-gay therapy” bill SB 1172, with LA City Controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (LA City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti and LA Times Theater critic Charles McNulty. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Liberty Hill Senior Program Director Vincent Jones. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Dr. Marvin Belzer, head of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, with trans staffer Bamby Salcedo. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Cecilia Estolano and her partner Katerine Aguilar Perez-Estolano, partners also in Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (LA City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s communication staffer Mike Ai (center with bow-tie) with his friends and entourage. Photo by Karen Ocamb) (Ubiquitous photographer and Stonewall Democratic Club Outreach chair Debra Evans throws me a pose as her gala seat-mate looks on. Photo by Karen Ocamb)