WEST HOLLYWOOD – On June 27, the Los Angeles Blade honored and recognized the accomplishments of LGBTQ + students, faculty, staff, and the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) administration as approximately 75 invited guests at the Le Parc Suite Hotel in West Hollywood gathered on the rooftop Skydeck lounge and pool areas to celebrate the LGBTQ + students and to celebrate the creation of a scholarship program between the Los Angeles Blade and LACCD.
“The reason LAACD can be progressive and forward-looking – the reason we are able to create an LGBTQIA Bill of Rights and make sure each of our students is safe – is that we have a great Board of Trustees that believes in a vision that every student deserves Education and security, ”said LACCD Chancellor Dr. Francisco C. Rodriguez.
These are strong words from an LGBTQI ally who runs one of the world’s largest community college systems, spread across a nine campus system with a 250,000 strong student body.
The late afternoon event was sponsored by the Los Angeles Blade, Ariadne Getty Foundation, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, GT’s Living Foods, and the Le Parc Suite Hotel.
Also in attendance were West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath and Alderman John Erickson, who presented proclamations recognizing the accomplishments of the LACCD’s board of directors, curators, and LGBTQ + student body.
Rhea Litré, voted best drag queen by the readers of Blade and one of the brightest drag stars in West Hollywood – most recently famous for her Instagram live show “Quarantine Queen” – opened the night with a warm welcome and introduced the publisher of Blade before Troy Masters.
In his speech, Masters stated that he was deeply touched by LACCD’s LGBTQ + program; “The cover of the Los Angeles Blade Pride issue is an example of something they do that really touched me. The school uses a monarch butterfly emblem that they wear to indicate that a person is a safe person to interact with openly and that an area or room is a safe place for them.
“That touched me very much, because it made me realize that their situation is different from what we may be used to. You have a deep need for safe, supportive people and spaces. They have a very great need to be who they are and to be with people and places that are safe, accepting and good for them, ”he said.
“We’re here tonight to celebrate this, celebrate the colleges, and celebrate the people featured in the current edition of the Los Angeles Blade,” he added. “
In addition to the politicians present, some of the top executives of the LACCD were present; Dr. Francisco C. Rodriguez, the LACCD Registrar, Deputy Registrar. Dr. Ryan M. Cornner, Dean for Student Success Deborah Harrington, Member of the LACCD Board of Trustees Mike Fong, David Vela, only open LGBTQ + LACCD trustee, Felipe Agredano-Lozano, LGBTQ + Faculty Liaison for the LACCD, Dr. Marcel Morales, Department Chair and Professor of Sociology at ELAC, James Limbaugh, President of West LA College and Michael P. Fuller, Director of Institutional Development at LACCD.
The blender was filled with many familiar faces from the Los Angeles community, including August Getty, who represented the Ariadne Getty Foundation and his LA-based fashion house August Getty Atelier; Marna Deitch, Southern California Motorcycle Equality Director and community college interpreter for the deaf; Michael Weinstein, executive director of the world’s largest AIDS health organization, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation; the lesbian activist and comedian Robin Tyler accompanied by her pug Oscar Wilde; Composer and lyricist Todd Pawelek and Stephen Rutgers representing the Washington Blade and Blade Foundation.
Masters thanked all sponsors of the event and several individuals who helped make the event possible, and thanked everyone who attended.
“I want to acknowledge some people who are very dear to my heart,” Masters paused. “Ariadne Getty is our most generous benefactress and her son August is here tonight.” And while the crowd cheered for August, Masters’ voice broke as he said, “I want to thank you for an immense amount of love and compassion – thank you for making us part of your family. ”Getty stood up and was visibly touched.
Masters also thanked Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation for his role in running a successful LGBTQ-focused Covid-19 vaccination program. “Michael is also one of our biggest supporters. And we appreciate Michael and the work of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, ”said Masters.
“We can thank Michael in part,” said Masters, “for his work to ensure that West Hollywood and the LGBTQ community are nearly completely vaccinated.” He added, “As a community, we are on the right track.”
AHF says it fully vaccinated tens of thousands of Angelenos. The agency also known to have worked hard during the Covid crisis to ensure its patients kept up with HIV medication and health needs. In fact, the City of West Hollywood is more than 72 percent fully vaccinated, according to the LA County Department of Public Health.
Masters said his observation that the community was “nearly 100 percent vaccinated” was anecdotal. “No actual LGBTQ statistics were kept during the Covid-19 crisis, which the Los Angeles Blade exposed in many articles,” he said.
Michael P. Fuller called the LACCD luminaries and the student award winner Sofia Zaragoza, Chancellor Rodriguez, the trustees Fong and Vela, who all gave short speeches.
West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath took the microphone and exclaimed “Happy Pride Month”. The Mayor, along with Councilor Erickson, then distributed proclamations to the LACCD leadership of the City of West Hollywood:
The proclamations read:
The City of West Hollywood honors the Los Angeles Community College district for
EXEMPLARY SERVICE FOR LGBTQ ADOLESCENTS celebrating Los Angeles Blade’s NEXT GENERATION PRIDE EVENT
The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) supports the rights, freedoms and equality of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and / or asexual (LGBTQIA +) and serves more than 20,000 LGBTQIA + students through safe and secure inspiring learning environments;
Whereas LACCD passed a groundbreaking LGBTQIA + Bill of Rights to create welcoming college communities that affirm the lives of LGBTQIA + students, faculty, and staff;
Whereas LACCD provides academic opportunities for LGBTQIA + students to achieve their educational goals, including courses and programs that recognize the contributions of the LGTBQIA + communities;
Let me know, the City of West Hollywood commends LACCD’s inclusive vision and leadership in supporting and nurturing LGBTQIA + members of our community.
The Blade interviewed several of the participants.
Litré said, “We raised an incredible amount of money for kids who want to go to college.” One of the scholarship recipients, Jamey Dee, who was featured in a special Blade in the three-part series last week, was also at the event briefly interviewed.
Dropping out of school for severe scoliosis and battling cancer twice is an uphill battle, but Dee won and was able to achieve her educational goals thanks in part to the LA Promise Scholarship Program. The LAACD Promise Program is a program that provides community college students with two years of tuition-free education. “Without a Promise,” said Dee, “I honestly don’t know where I would be.”
There were many people from LACCD who helped make this moment possible, like Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, Chancellor of the LACCD. About the event, he said: “We are only here for one reason – and that is for students.”
Sofia Zaragoza, a queer student recently accepted into the University of California Berkeley, described in the Next Generation of Pride article why she thinks she has been picked by the blade. “I think that’s because of my diverse academic background. I have a real passion for education. ”For Zaragoza, being an LGBTQ student can be challenging, but it not only“ diversifies ”but“ enriches ”her perspective on life.
West LA College President James Limbaugh told Blade that he looks at students like Dee and Zaragoza and that their stories are inspiring. “I think it’s important that every student has the rights and access to college … Every student has potential, so it is my responsibility to ensure that all students have a chance.” Morales of LACCD’s East LA College campus weighed in. “Diversity is very important to our district … Our district leads the way when it comes to helping and supporting students.”
Deitch, the head of the Southern California motorcycle contingent for equality, told Blade; “I don’t even have words to say how wonderful I think this is. To know that the community colleges have been very open to the LGTBQ community is nice, but it’s fantastic to bring it to this level. “
August Getty, appointed final speaker by Masters, reflects; “At the end of the day we’re a whole family … Thanks to LA Blade for giving us an open voice when we don’t have one.”