Full video of Queer Out Awards, filmed by CMAC.
Those honored included:
• Queer Hero of the Year: Marsha Conant
• Outstanding Queer Nonprofit Organization: Fresno Barrios Unidos
• Outstanding Queer Business: La Vogue Beauty Shoppe
• Queer Youth (Under 18): Tobias Stokes
• Queer Youth (18-24): Kiana Medina
• Contributor to Queer Life through Volunteerism: Zoyer Zyndel
• Inspirational Queer Activist Leader: Robin McGehee
• Ally of the Year: Jennifer Chou
• Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Robertson
- Written by Jose Hernandez
When news headlines are dominated by disasters and political turmoil; it’s easy to forget the good in the world. It’s even easy to overlook the good happening in our own community; good that community members Randall Velasco-Stoll and Leon Velasco-Stoll are doing.
Founders of the Fresno Spectrum Center, Randall and Leon are here to assist the LGBTQ+ community members and allies as well. They provide resources and a safe space for people to come hang out and meet other members of the community. They provide board games, video games, and books for people to enjoy. The center also provides space for groups to have meetings or trainings. They provide this service for free, but a donation is always appreciated but not necessary.
“We developed a relationship with a lot of other non-profits, and in some cases, have also helped them become more LGBT friendly and become allies,” Randy explains. “So, we can help refer people that may have services; from anything like domestic violence situations or they don’t have enough food in their refrigerator for their family. We can help provide resources and stuff for them to make connections so that they can fulfill those needs.”
Randall and Leon also founded the LGBT Pink Panthers Movement; an anti-bullying organization. Founded around 5 years ago, the Pink Panthers Movement would be the first step into creating the Spectrum Center.
Located near Princeton and Blackstone, the Fresno Spectrum Center was founded by Randall and Leon, but they had plenty of help along the way. One of the biggest contributors, was Leon’s mom.
“It started off as an idea and [Leon’s] mom saying, ‘yeah you guys need to do this,’” Randall explains. “’You need to develop this, Hun, I’m behind you to help you.’ So, that’s how the LGBT Pink Panther’s came about; she was actually on the first board and she was a really big supporter.”
“She kind of helped to bring about that idea through her knowledge and was able to pass that on to us. Plus, we were also able to contact some of our mentors, like my mentors in the community; Jeff Robinson, Peter Robinson.”
Although it was a long journey for the idea of the Spectrum Center to become a reality; they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. They have plans for the future. They are looking to get a grant to fund their Arts and Crafts night, which is hosted on the first Friday of every month. They’re also looking to get a grant for their resource fair. In the future, they want to expand to be able to help more people and provide more services. The Spectrum Center is always looking to help people.
“We just want people to walk in and be like ‘Oh wow, this is going to be okay’, Randall says. “If they read anything or see anything on the bulletin board; they see things that are going to make them feel safer.”
- Written by Bryan T Clark
Last month my husband Brian (Yes, his name is Brian also) and I celebrated our thirty-five-year anniversary. I truly can’t believe we’ve been together for thirty-five years! It seems as if it was just yesterday that we were teenagers, sitting on a rock by the river, getting to know one another.
It was the end of the summer, the year was 1984, and I had been secretly lusting over Brian all summer. At the time, I was openly gay, however Brian was a devout Christian and didn’t even know Gay was an acceptable possibility. He was curious and questioning his sexuality as he began hanging out with my group of colorful friends. Our summer social activity was to park along the riverbank at night and party. In the cool California air, for hours we laughed, drank, and played Truth or Dare, until like clockwork, at two a.m., the local sheriff drove out and cleared all the cars away.
The night of September 8, 1984, Brian and I had separated from the crowd and had wandered over to the rocks on the river’s edge. After hours of talking, I finally worked up the nerve to confess my feelings to him. He admitted he had the same feelings, but was unsure about if it was right to act on. That night, I asked him to take a chance, to take a leap of faith, to trust me I promised not to hurt him. He accepted what I asked of him, and that night, we had our first kiss.
For years, we debated whether our official anniversary would be September 8th, or since the clock had struck midnight, and ‘our date’ continued, would the date actually be September 9th.
Twenty-four years later, and after a ruling by the Supreme Court of California, affirming Marriage Equality, on September 9, 2009, while standing before God, our family, and our friends, we were legally married and made the 9th our official anniversary date.
When I first decided to write this month’s blog, I was thinking about how much has changed since that summer in 1984. I would have never foreseen that after a twenty-seven-year career in law enforcement, I would be writing romance novels about gay men.
Every day, I sit down at my computer and get to craft stories about the lives of people, fictional characters that will enter bookstores, libraries, and homes around the world. Although all of my characters are vastly different from one another, they each contain bits of my and my husband’s story within their character.
In Ancient House of Cards, it was our struggle with religion and our relationship with God that was an issue. Sad to say, but the ‘church’ failed Brian and I early on in life, and much of the pain we felt has been irreversible. Before Sunrise is a reflection of the demons within us, and our struggle to keep a lid on them. Life is hard and at times doesn’t seem fair, but you must continue to swim or you will drown. Come to the Oaks echoes our innocence, our belief that our love could transcend all obstacles.
Diego’s Secret is about trusting our hearts even if it meant losing your family. Brian’s family had a very hard time with him ‘Coming Out’ in the beginning. Their love for their son never wavered, and over time their relationship has healed and flourished.
I poured my heart into Escaping Camp Roosevelt. So much of that book were pages from my life. The feeling that you’re not good enough, failure, disappointment and trust, are all things I have struggled with, and to some degree, continue to struggle with.
So, as in life, my characters have to ask themselves, “Is love worth the risk?”. To know that in coming out, they could lose everything and that by choosing love, there is a real chance they could get hurt, have their hearts broken, and still be willing to take the risk. Is this not what we all may have to ask ourselves in this one life that we get?
Romance is about the heart fluttering and the feeling that you just might die if you have to spend a single moment away from the person you love. Now, I am not talking about the mushy stuff our mothers may have read, but real relationship issues, dealing with a moral dilemma that is often surrounded by dishonesty, hurt, risk, and most importantly, real love that makes the struggle worth it all in the end.
Writing romance is so much more than rescuing the damsel in distress, or a cheesy love scene. It is about life, and what we all want… to be loved and to be in love.
Bryan T Clark
- Written by Ari Xiong
Social media. There are many forms of it such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and many more, but they all have something in common and that is that they’re being frequently used by people of all ages in this day and age. Although this may sound normal, it’s actually very dangerous. Yes, there are many good benefits about social media, but the amount of cons about social media definitely outweigh the amount of pros. Here are some reasons as to why social media is actually bad rather than good.
Using too much social media could result in isolation. Various aspects of their off-line existence, such as their jobs, families, and health are neglected due to people becoming so reliant upon online social networking (Source 1, Paragraph 2). This proves that social media is negatively influencing people to not be aware of the important priorities that they have, but instead make them, in a way, abandon it. Rather than connect with people, opponents argue that social media actually tends to isolate those from others (Source 1, Paragraph 6). Those who are too dependent on social media should really refrain from using too much of it because you can find ways to connect with others without always using social media. Isolation is a very big and recurring result that often comes from using social media too much.
Cyberbullying also often occurs on social media. Negative information posted on the internet with the intentions to destroy someone and have the information spread quickly to hundreds of people is called online bullying or in other words cyberbullying (Source 1, Paragraph 19). To teens, this might be very common because bullies use social media as a platform to ruin someone’s reputation and/or decrease their self-esteem. Social networking systems, online chat rooms, or via email are where cyberbullying can usually take place (Source 1, Paragraph 20). All sorts of social media are ways where bullies and others can use it to their advantage and make others’ lives miserable. Social media are programs that can be beneficial to those with bad intentions.
When it comes to social media, there are many risks involving privacy. There are many agreements when it comes to social media exposing its users to certain risks involving privacy regardless of whether or not it isolates or connects those who use it (Source 1, Paragraph 7). Whatever social media may do, whether it be isolating or connecting others, the users must be extra careful about the information they display because it can be exposed. No matter how carefully you protect your private information about social media, distant friends can still access it (Source 1, Paragraph 9). This shows that you can’t rely on social media when it comes to the protection of your private information. The privacy protection that is supposedly guaranteed by the terms from social media has many risks to it.
It is true that social media is a good way of communicating with others, although there are many bad ideas about it. One cannot deny that it helps form relationships for many useful things whether it be for work or romantically. However, social media is really harmful both physically and mentally toward the user. Many people fear that teens that use too much technology would not be as smart as earlier generations and won’t know how to interact with others (Source 2, Paragraph 6). Therefore, social media is dangerous and should be used wisely.
People isolating themselves from others, cyberbullying, and risks involving privacy are all negative results of social media. Everything has its ups and downs and social media is no exception. The negative outcomes of social media are sure to exceed the many positive views about social media. Clearly, social media is harmful and should be handled with good and thoughtful supervision.
- Written by Jose Hernandez
Fresno State celebrated its LGBTQ+ community with its second annual pride week on campus. From Oct. 7 to Oct. 11, there was an event each day to promote diversity and to celebrate the community.
The first day there was an information center with resources for LGBTQ+ members and for allies. Then on Tuesday, they held a safe zone training; the next day was a pronoun politics workshop. Thursday was a day to show your pride on Instagram and Facebook. Finally, on Friday, a pride party was held for the LGBTQ+ community along with allies to make some new friends and get to know each other better. The week was led by Kiana Medina, teaching credential student who works for the Cross Cultural and Gender Center.
“Our overall mission is to ensure that students feel belonged, they have a sense of belonging on campus as well as inclusion,” Medina explains. “So, having an increased sense of diversity, inclusion, and belonging on Fresno State’s campus. So, being able to come on to campus and say,’ I am represented here, I belong here, I am included here, my identities are respected here.’”
Medina says that both years pride week have been a success, with a decent turnout for the events. For the information fair, there were a number of students stopping by to learn more about resources. For the pronoun politics workshop, Medina says over thirty people came. It wasn’t only students who showed up, but also faculty members as well.
Dr. Francine Oputa, director of the Cross Cultural and Gender Center, spoke on the first day to welcome people to a week of fun events. Also speaking at the event was Vice President of student affairs, Dr. Frank Lamas. President of the University, Joseph Castro, also made an appearance and spoke about how he was pleased with this event for being able to showcase the LGBTQ+ and to raise awareness of the diversity Fresno State has. Medina was excited to have President Castro speak at the pride week event.
“I know they’re very busy people, but they really tried their hardest to come to our event, to participate especially within our center.”
Overall, Fresno State made an effort to show its support for the events, the Henry Madden Library was represented at the information fair by the Anne Nixon center and by the Library Diversity Community (LDC). Sarah Pech, library specialist, was there on the behalf of the LDC, showcasing the different LGBTQ+ literature, movies, and CDs.
“The entire library, all of our materials, we really try to be inclusive and diverse as possible,” Pech explains. “You know, regarding subjects for school, regarding, I think really any matter. We really just want all students to feel comfortable in all parts of the library.”
Although pride week has come to an end, Medina wants to let people know that the Cross Cultural and Gender Center is there all year to help the LGBTQ+ community.
“You can come to the center and meet me or anyone on my team,” Medina says. “So, it’s exciting to have a week that solely focuses on our identities and our experiences but we’re always here for you.”
- Written by Janet
The big top has come down. Kampout Goes to the Circus has come to an end. What a great weekend it was for the over 110 kampers who attended. The weather was absolutely beautiful, days in the low 80’s and comfortable nights.
We had a lot of kampers arrive early this year, and they were treated to some relaxation before the festivities began. Thursday evening, an unexpected early beer bust was held at the main kamp.
On Friday morning, kampers began to arrive. After setting up their kamps, they gathered at the main kamp to play Kampout Bingo, hosted by and prizes donated by Oscar and Steve. Thank you so much for this fun addition to Kampout.
The Progressive Koctail Party, our official “meet and greet” on Friday night made 4 stops, starting at the cabins and hosted by the Kampout Committee. Making the trek down, kampers stopped at Jeff Hough’s for an impromptu stop…thank you Jeff. On to the IDC and their fabulous Freak Show kamp, then back to the Fun House, sponsored by the Oscar and Steve (The Long Beach Boys) and Eli and Dennis. Thank you all for hosting these great stops. The Progressive ended at the main kamp, with a beer bust sponsored by the Red Lantern and Kampout Karaoke.
Saturday was, as always, a busy day. Starting out with a great breakfast by the Kampout Committee, kampers got ready to participate in the fun and games scheduled throughout the day. Kampers started building their boats to race in the Yacht Regatta. The Needle in the Haystack search continued and then it was time for Kamptown Races, which is always a lot of laughs.
Saturday night’s beer bust was sponsored by Alibi, and was followed by a great dinner provided by the Kampout Committee, consisting of pulled pork on a French roll and 4 salads.
Saturday’s festivities continued with the always fun Kampstravganza Show, which opened with a beautiful rendition of God Bless America, sung by Rick a.k.a Maxie Grant. Thank you so much to reigning Empress Victoria de Leon for a great job as M.C. Many performers graced the Coleman lantern footlights to entertain the crowd, and compete for the titles of Kampout King and Kampout Kween. What an incredible show they put on.
So, on to the winners of the weekend’s contests. In the Yacht Regatta, the best decorated boat went to Lynda. In the races, 1st place and the title of Kamp Komodore went to Kevin, 2nd Amanda, and 3rd Tena. The Needle in the Haystack winners were Karen, Danny and Chris. Kamptown Races winners were: for Drag Race, 1st Danny, 2nd Sunny, and 3rd Ray. Ring Toss was won by Joey. The Balloon Pop 1st place team was Danny, Keith, Ronny, Josh, and Travis. And for Musical Chairs, 1st Keith, 2nd Tena, and 3rd Doug. Best Kampsite Decorating went to the IDC for their Freak Show and to the Long Beach Boys for their Fun House. Kamp King was Frankie and Kamp Kween was Electra City. Congratulations to all our winners.
The Kampout Committee would like to thank our wonderful sponsors, without their help, we couldn’t do this. Thank you to Virgil Wigley and the Red Lantern and to Jeff Hough, Alibi and Club Legends, for donations of the kegs for Friday and Saturday’s beer busts. Thank you to Fresno Pride Lions for your donation. Thank you to Peeps and Shawnie of the HLK for donating prizes. We would also like to thank all of our volunteers who helped out before and during Kampout.
Kampout officially ended on Sunday with another wonderful breakfast provided by the Kampout Committee.
2020 marks the 40th anniversary of Kampout, and the theme for next year’s Kampout will be “A Hike Down Memory Trail”. This will be a celebration of the best of Kampout. Pick your favorite theme from the past and run with it. The Kampout Committee will be posting an updated list of prior themes on their webpage www.kampoutfresno.com. The dates for Kampout 2020 will be Friday, September 11 through Sunday September 13. Mark your calendars now and join us to celebrate 40 years of Kampout.
- Written by Jose Hernandez
Throughout the history of the United States; there have been landmark cases that have changed the nation. Famous cases such as Brown v Board of Education (1954) and Roe v Wade have dealt with segregation and abortion. Now, in 2019, there will be three cases that deal with LGBTQ rights; cases that can change the nation once again.
On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court will hear three cases that will determine whether the rights of the LGBTQ community will be protected under discrimination laws, and whether these laws protect them from discrimination in their workplace; which will set a precedent for the future. The first one has to do with Aimee Stephens and transgender rights.
Since 2008, Stephens had been trying to figure out her true self and trying to piece it all together. In 2012 she finally made the transition and started confiding into people about who she really was. It wouldn’t be until 2013 when she would tell her boss at R.G and G.R Harris Funeral Homes, a place where she worked as a funeral home director for six years. Stephens gave her boss a letter explaining her experience and her difficulties coming to terms with who she is and explained that she would be adhering to the women’s dress code from now on. Two weeks later, Stephens was terminated.
Stephens argues that federal sex discrimination laws should protect LGBTQ people as well, and on Oct. 8, the Supreme Court will decide if the rights of transgender
individuals are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court will also decide if sexual orientation is also protected under these federal laws by hearing two other cases.
Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock both claim they were fired from their respective workplace after coming out as gay. Zarda was a skydiving instructor who worked for Altitude Express until 2010 when he was abruptly fired. The incident that ignited the whole thing was when Zarda told a customer his sexual orientation to sooth her concerns of being strapped to a guy; he was fired shortly after that. Altitude Express claims that Zarda touched the customer inappropriately, but Zarda’s team denies these allegations and says Zarda was fired for his sexual orientation. Zarda sued his former workplace, and in 2018 the Court of Appeals for the Second District agreed that sexual orientation is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unfortunately,
Zarda would not hear this ruling as he passed away in 2014. Altitude Express later petitioned for the Supreme Court to review this case and was successful.
The Supreme Court will also hear the case of Gerald Bostock. Bostock worked for the Clayton County in Georgia. He was part of their Court Appointed Special Advocates program until 2013 when he was fired; Bostock claims it was because he was gay. He alleges that his workplace found out after he joined a gay softball league, and he also claims that some of his former coworkers made negative comments on his sexual orientation. The county has vehemently denied firing Bostock for his sexual orientation. Bostock sued the county but hasn’t been successful, thus bringing his case to the eyes of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court will hear these three cases on Oct. 8 and will finally set a precedent on whether the LGBTQ community is protected under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 from discrimination in the workplace.
Don't miss your chance to attend Fresno's Drag Festival 2019: Werk! Oct 5th and 6th
This year we will have TWO special guest! This year we will also have a two day event. During the two days there will be performances from Queens & Kings from all over California.
Ada Vox, contestant on season One of American Idol, will be our featured guest for our Dinner & Drag Show.
Erika Klash from the Dragula show will be our featured guest on our second day! She will also be hosting our Runway portion of the event. Runway will consists of seasoned Queens or Kings transforming an audience member and getting them ready to perform their own number!
Mimosas with Erika Klash: $15 general admission, $20 VIP (includes Meet & Greet)
Last chance to attend Common Space's 2nd Annual QueerOut Awards Gala! We're allowing all ticket/table sales through the end of Friday, October 4. No tickets will be sold at the door. This event is close to being sold out! Purchase a ticket at commonspacefresno.org/queerout
Join us this Saturday! Music, Games, Entertainment, Bounce Houses, Mascots, Lunch, FREE!
Radio Park - September 28th 2019 - 9am to 1pm
- Written by Jose Hernandez
Movies, popcorn, and good times! The Fresno Reel Pride LGBT Film Festival was held last week, showcasing a variety of different films.
Starting from Sept. 18 and running until the 22; several movies were played each day in the Tower and Vistas Theatres. There was a genre for everyone; ranging from comedies to documentaries. For example, there was the dramedy Tucked, a movie about a drag queen who makes an important friend while dying of cancer. There was also the documentary Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, chronicling the experience of actor Mark Patton who was the star of A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Revenge.
A viewer of Tucked, said it was a “good story” and described it as meaningful. The movie was liked by many as the whole theatre was roaring with laughter during the comedic bits, and completely silent during the tear-jerking moments.
This marked the film festival’s 30th anniversary, making it one of the oldest LGBT film festivals in the country; it also has the achievement of being one of the biggest. Attending a screening makes it obvious why it has both achievements.
The film festival has friendly service as soon as one walks up to buy a ticket, and it continues during the entire night; with volunteers helping people out if they don’t know where to go. As soon as one steps into the lobby, they are surrounded by laughter and smiling faces; creating a welcoming environment for first-time attendees. Ivan Manriquez is one of these attendees.
Manriquez went to the screening of Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street. He explained that he came to be a part of his community; which is what the film festival is all about. Even if one is not a part of the community; they are welcomed with opened arms. The Fresno Reel Pride LGBT Film Festival slogan is, “Films for Everyone.”
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