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.”
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.
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.”
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!
Fresno's Drag Festival $5 admission for the day or $7 for both days. 9am to 2pm - Piccadilly Inn Airport, 5115 E McKinley Ave, Fresno
Mimosas with Erika Klash: $15 general admission, $20 VIP (includes Meet & Greet)