Since the 2019 debut of his album, A Man Born Black, Mykal Kilgore has swooned into the hearts of thousands of fans across the world. The award-winning Broadway performer, who is proud to be both Black and gay, is using his voice to share his truths to any listening ear and an open heart. Nominated “Outstanding New Artist” for the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Kilgore is compared to such artists as Billie Holiday, Donnie Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, and others. His single, “Let Me Go,” delivers a soulful, relatable ballad, creating an anthem for many in the world. The single landed on five Billboard charts and #2 on iTunes. “This album was my opportunity to be transparent, unapologetic, and intentional about the life that I live,” shared Kilgore. “I am very thankful to those who have welcomed me and my music.”
Kilgore announced his 2020 Born Black tour - a seven-city tour that will stop in New York, Atlanta, Annapolis, Nashville, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. During this time, fans will witness this powerhouse performer who has worked under the tutelage of GRAMMY®, Emmy, and Tony award winner, Billy Porter. Kilgore is becoming a shining star in the theater world as well, taking part in such productions as Motown the Musical, Book of Mormon, Hair, NBC’s The Wiz Live, and Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. Kilgore is known for his viral video, inspired by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “Reclaiming My Time.” For more information on Mykal Kilgore, his music, and tour, visit www.mykalkilgore.com.
Circus of Books
The three-decades-long bookstore, Circus of Books, an LGBTQ space where people could go to socialize and celebrate, is about to close. The real story behind this 35+-year-old business is the people who run it. Karen and Barry Mason, a straight married couple with three children, made Circus of Books a staple in Los Angeles and America’s biggest distributors of gay porn. Artist and daughter, Rachel Mason, in her debut documentary, discovered more about the parents she thought she knew and about the business her family refused to disclose the nature of for years. Circus of Books is a moving, thought-provoking film that not only talks about the rise and fall of a family business but what it did for a community and how it caused a family to experience different situations in the LGBTQ community.
Jess Harris, a 29 year old web designer for a nonprofit in Brooklyn, is ecstatic to be the surrogate and egg-donor for her best friend, Josh, and his husband Aaron. Twelve weeks into the pregnancy, a prenatal test comes back with unexpected results that pose a moral dilemma. As they all consider the best course of action, the relationship between the three friends is put to the test.
The Second Life of Jamie P
Sometimes we discover who we are later in life. For Jamie Peebles, it came at age 63, when she realized she was living life in the wrong body. Refusing to live in fear, Jamie decided to share her truth and be the person she was meant to be. The Second Life of Jamie P follows her emotional, revelatory, and sometimes funny year-long transition with her friend, Director Roger Sherman.
Michael Alago is a prime example of a gay person of color living the American dream. The man who signed Metallica released his new book, “I am Michael Alago: Breathing Music, Signing Metallica, Beating Death.” The autobiography takes a look into his life and his passion for music. It also shares how he consistently beat the odds. Alago survived the AIDS epidemic and overcame addiction. He is one of the music industry’s celebrated success stories.
Alago is also the feature topic in the Netflix documentary, “Who The F**K Is That Guy? The Fabulous Journey of Michael Alago.” He’s proven to be a role model for those in the LGBTQ community and is a proud example of strength - following his dreams despite all the obstacles. Building a music career with such artists as Cyndi Lauper and Nina Simone, Alago left it all behind to pursue his other love: photography.
“I am Michael Alago: Breathing Music, Signing Metallica, Beating Death” is an inspiring telling of a man who continues to live life to the fullest and takes stock on how it came to be.
Paperback: 261 pages
Publisher: Backbeat Books
P&E Must Reads
Visibility. Merriam and Webster's Dictionary define it as “the capability of being readily noticed.” To be seen - Now, more than ever, the LGBTQ+ community is rallying the battle cry of being seen. Seen in our places of business and employment. Seen in spaces of cis-gendered, hetero normality. Seen in our own families. While we are making tremendous progress in this mission, we are still sometimes missing the mark within our community. Through generational conditioning, we have created sects and different subgroups within the community to offer a sense of identity and belonging. From “bears” to “otters” and “twinks” to “muscle daddies,” affiliations have long been a way to solidify a sense of self in a community with so many beautiful colors. But it is in these groups that we also cultivate a sense exclusivity and exclusion rather than inclusion.
In my lifetime, I have been to many a bar that wasn’t the most welcoming to me because I didn’t fit the usual clientele. Furthermore, being rendered as invisible because of the color of my skin. One would think, that in 2020, ideas of racism in a community fighting for the same liberties their cis-gendered counterparts receive, would jettison any notion of non-acceptance of any group of people. But, sadly, that’s not the case. From profiles on dating apps that display preferences of no fems, blacks, or chubs. To a myriad of micro-aggressive behaviors that litter our community. We are letting the very poison that is being slung at us to be an ever-present way of life. Social media has perpetuated these behaviors. Anyone with a smartphone, internet, and a keyboard can hide under a banner of anonymity - spewing hate and vitriol relentlessly, with often a curated audience, to reinforce the said activity.
I get it. You like what you like. More times than not, like attracts like. As humans, we find comfort in the familiar and similar. The attraction is not immune to that basic human instinct. But we have to try our best to see and embrace our differences. We are all trying to survive, like when The Avengers assembled to fight Thanos. Heroes of different strengths and powers came together for the greater good - to fight a greater evil. Together, they were stronger. The same goes for our community. We are fighting for our lives - literally. We are more alike than we like to think. How can we ask for acceptance and be “seen” when we chose not to see our brothers and sisters?” When we turn a blind eye to our trans brothers and sisters, or shame one of our own because he “doesn’t have a summer body?” Or when we discount the voices of our black brothers and sisters and other people of color.
I write this not to point a finger at anyone, but as a reminder to myself and others. When we heal and move forward with love and true authentic acceptance, regardless of socio-economic class, body type, background, and life path, we can be "seen" in a powerful light - seen standing in our power as a community. Generations fought hard and gave their lives for our community to be as brilliant as we are today. Resilient, unmovable, and steadfast are words that come to mind when I think of the magnificent qualities of the LGBTQ+ community. Together, we will continue to fight for what is rightfully ours. Together - stay safe and be well.
Jason J. Carter is a Host, Producer, Journalist, and Television Personality. He is the creator of JasonUnleashed and appears on such shows as ET Live, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and The Young Turks. Learn more at JasonUnleashed.net.
Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys comes out as gay in his original, deeply personal music video, featuring music by ODESZA.
In order to know where you’re going, you must know where you began. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the momentous event, the Stonewall Riots, many in the LGBTQ community are taking this as a time of reflection to teach our younger generations why they have the liberties they have today. But the fight is not over. The LGBTQ community is still fighting to receive basic rights in this world. Just in time for the anniversary, First Run Features is announcing their theatrical re-release of Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community, on June 21st.
Produced by Robert Rosenberg, John Scagliotti and Greta Schiller, the film celebrates the moment in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village. That occurrence lead to a three-night standoff, including riots, by the gay community, birthing the start of the gay and lesbian liberation movement. While recognizing the historic moment, the film offers the viewers a glimpse of how life was before the iconic experience. As shared by the filmmakers, Before Stonewall pries open the closet door, setting free the dramatic story of the sometimes horrifying public and private existences experienced by LGBT Americans since the early 1900's. Revealing and often humorous, this widely acclaimed film relives the emotionally-charged sparking of today's gay rights movement, from the events that led to the fevered 1969 riots to many other milestones in the brave fight for acceptance.* Schiller also celebrates the 35th anniversary of the film’s original release. She remembers the process and the responsibility she had to the community to do this film justice. “This was my first foray into feature filmmaking. As the first film on an LGBT topic to receive funding from Public Television, we had an enormous responsibility to get it right – and a lot of peer pressure from people around the country who wanted to tell their stories,” expressed Schiller. “Weaving these stories into the social and political tenor of each decade, with my point of view emerging from the material, and the mix of humor and pathos, music and archive footage, has shaped my directorial style ever since. It also honed my focus as a young woman documentarian on making films that map the journeys of ordinary people, whose lives both impacted and were impacted by historical forces. When we set out to make this film, I had no inkling of the meaning it would have around the world.”
Co/Director and Producer, Robert Rosenberg, an independent filmmaker and activist in the LGBTQ including being a Founding Director of the acclaimed Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and the Coral Gables Art Cinema understood the challenge in from of him - breathing life into an already iconic film. “It was a big, sprawling, challenging film to make, and it really was a sort of a ‘Gay History 101’ in terms of any onscreen approach,” said Rosenberg. “No one had dared to or really been able to do this before, though we were of course building on the work of pioneering scholars and community activists who were already documenting LGBT stories and digging into the past. Making ‘Before Stonewall’ for me was also such an incredible and life-changing experience as a younger gay man. I got to hear, face-to-face, the stories of so many older men and women, in a way I would not have without our film project, their tales of heroism, resistance, love and struggle in very different times.”
Quintessential author, Rita Mae Brown, narrates the film. Of those involved with the documentary, Brown is the quintessential individual of “Beyond Stonewall,” coming out in the 1960s and truly experiencing the many stories told in this documentary. Brown shared her experience in being a part of the process and living during such a significant era. “Quote from Brown.”
In restoring the film, The 16mm negative was scanned and digitized at Periscope Films in Los Angeles. The file was then color corrected at Edition Salzgeber in Berlin, who created the ProRes and DCP. Director Greta Schiller supervised the process and approved the new ProRes and DCP. “Quote about the process of restoration.”
When it comes down to it, the amazing moments of this film were the stories of the individuals who lived during that time. featuring interviews Pioneering cultural figures and activists including Audre Lorde, Allen Ginsberg, Harry Hay, Richard Bruce Nugent, Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, shared their words and feelings.
Stonewall was a moment in the making. Over three nights, lives were changed and the movement would never be the same. It was a special moment the community was waiting for. A moment we’ll celebrate this year, another 50 years and many generations to come.
Professional ballet dancer John Lam has a daily juggling act balance his career, marriage and family. A child of Vietnam immigrants, as Lam grew older he realized that being public about his life was the best way of showing people that when it comes to family, we are all the same. He took a moment to talk with PRIDE & Equality about his goals.
You have the cutest boys! Was family always in the plan or was career your focus?
Kids was always in the plan of creating our family, but we didn’t think it would go so smoothly via IVF and was blessed with such a smooth experience going through the process twice.
Being a professional dancer has and is my bread and butter of who I am as a human being. I think that while I was in my young twenties and seeing older dancers have kids to create a family, gave me the assurance that this was something that I wanted to do in the future as I grew up with an amazing childhood in my eyes, and having siblings and many cousins was apart of my teenage growing phase. Having the opportunity to create a family that is ours through IVF was and is still an incredible and huge task to take. I am so grateful for our two boys which helps me deepen my artistry in roles I take on.
Where did your inspiration for dance come from?
I think my inspiration for dance was how I listened to the music, and how my body would just react to what the music was playing. I remember as a small little child that I would listen to these epic tracks of classical music that I had really no clue what they were, but creating dances in my mind and just letting my spirit be. I would dance in my elementary classrooms and middle school years, not know what I was doing, and not caring what others would think, dancing for me was and is like a sacred drug that I have to take in order to feel zen.
Where has dance taken you?
Dance has taken me to many places and have experienced so much. While the clock is ticking, I’ve been very lucky to travel and dance iconic ballet roles that has given me much fulfillment as an artist. I grew up in the projects of San Rafael CA, with no artistic background from my family, and somehow dance found me, and I took a chance and went with it. Landing full ride scholarships to schools, and then being offered my first contract with Boston Ballet prior to graduating high school. I hold now a Principal Dancer contract with Boston Ballet and have been with the company for 17 years. Its half of my life so far, and I have learned to be loyal and trust the process of being a dancer. Its been tough, it is tough, sustaining on a high level, and continuing to inspire oneself is tough. But so far I have made dance be and allowed it to grow.
How did you and John meet?
I met John R. my future husband, in the South End in Boston, walking across a crosswalk dropping my laundry while he stopped and let me pass. Sitting outside waiting for my laundry to be dried, he drove up, pulled over, and sat next to me and introduced himself. He had balls to just come up and say hi, but the rest is history. 9 years and counting, married and creating a family, I am and will forever be grateful for John R taking a chance with me.
Many would keep their personal life to themselves. Why is it important for the public to see the dynamic of your family?
I think that it is important if one has the cache and ability to share their makeup of their lives if one is willing to share. I wish that I had a couple that was so different in age, culture, profession, but able to come together and create a life together, would have been inspiring as a teen to look up too. I hope that by sharing and giving a transparent idea of what our family is made up of, it will allow others to see and have a perspective of what is possible and what love is. I think sharing our stories, allows others to look at themselves and see what inspires them to take the plunge in creating a family, or go on a date, and or know that there are married couples out there.
What does the future hold for you both personally and professionally?
An epic question, which I cannot foresee the future. Thankfully, I have an incredible husband, that is my teammate, and two kids to care for at the same time, gives me to the chance to figure what the next steps can be. Personally, I am hoping that I just am the best father to my kids and loving and caring husband. Professionally, I know that I can’t dance forever, so enjoying every moment on stage and keeping an open heart to what the possibilities can be in the future.
Follow John on social media @johndilam and @Ruggierilamfamily.
A call went out this year after spending an evening with youth in the LGBTQ community for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. I discovered that although there seems to be a fractured community here in New Mexico, the gap is even deeper when it comes to people of color. They feel they don’t have a voice or opportunities to express it. While I offered everyone in the room the opportunity to share their stories, no one took the opportunity. So, the direction changed During this time I was approached by StormMiguel Florez, a filmmaker, who remembered his moment in 1987 - coming out as lesbian before transitioning. This Hispanic, Albuquerque native took those memories, a distinct sound, and created a documentary to tell his story. The Whistle “is a documentary film that will tell the story of a secret code created by and shared among young lesbians in 1970s & 80s Albuquerque as a means of self-identification and finding community.” Florez sat down with me to talk about the moment he discovered “The Whistle” and what he has witnessed during his time in New Mexico.
What do you remember most about that time when you came out - the good and the bad?
I am a queer trans man and identified as a lesbian when I came out at age 15 in 1987. The hard part about coming out in 1987 was the total lack of positive representation of LGBT people in the media, so people didn’t have a reference point for us, besides what they learned in church and this inherent “knowledge” that LGBT people were sad, lonely, disturbed sinners who lived in the shadows. This meant that there was a lot of shame and fear around coming out even to ourselves, but I know that is still the case for many people coming out today. Coming out to my parents was hard. My mother was a devout Catholic, but I never heard her talk about God or sin, we just went to Church every Sunday, and Catechism during summer break when we were kids, and we were expected to fulfill the sacraments. When I came out to my parents, she used words like “evil” and “sin” and told me that I was going to change. This made me feel really awful and really afraid. She grounded me for what seemed like the longest time, she made me go to a psychologist, and tried to make me go to modeling school. The psychologist was surprisingly cool and told me that I didn’t need to change unless I wanted to and that if I wanted to, it should only be for myself. The modeling school took one look at my butchy teenaged self and told my mother and I that they offered acting classes. My mother never spoke of modeling school again. It was a very hard time for both of us. I know she had a lot of shame around me being gay and I don’t think she every really talked about it to anyone. She came around over the years, which I think made things a lot easier for both of us.
The lack of general awareness or reference for us in the Southwest had it’s upside. People didn’t necessarily know what they were seeing when they saw us, especially us lesbians, so we were able to duck under the radar a lot of the time. That meant we were able to be out in public with each other in groups, and no one would bother us. Either we were intimidating, or people just didn’t know what they were seeing. That said, we were bullied in school and many of us didn’t graduate high school or barely graduated because of bullying and not feeling like we could really be ourselves at school. Many of my friends were kicked out of their homes when their parents found out they were gay, so it was by no means perfect, and in fact there were a lot of hard times. But we got a lot of support from each other.
The best part about coming out as a lesbian at that time was the community. There were so many of us in Albuquerque! We were at every high school - especially from the west side up to Del Norte high school. And we would all party together and hang out at each others’ houses, and go to each others softball, basketball, and soccer games. And when we wanted to confirm that some mullet sporting girl that we had never seen before was gay, we would use this whistle. The whistle was known by what seemed to be most young lesbians in Albuquerque - especially Latina lesbians. When we used the whistle to spot someone, if they were one of us, they would whistle back or look up (maybe thinking it was their friends trying to get their attention) and give what was often a shy, but happy little nod.
I have a lot of great memories of coming out at the time and wouldn’t change it for anything.
What was New Mexico (Albuquerque) like for a person of color in the LGBTQ community?
That’s an interesting question because of the particular makeup of our ethnicity and race in this state. I believe there is a higher percentage of Latinx (or Hispanic) people in New Mexico than any other race/ethnicity. So for Latinx people, I think it’s a lot easier for us than other people of color, because we see ourselves represented more and probably have more access than other people of color do in this state. So on that front, being a young Latinx butch lesbian, I always felt like my masculinity was the thing that people noticed about me and the thing I was targeted and harassed about - not my race/ethnicity.
Despite there being more Latinx people in New Mexico, the people who owned the businesses and had the wealth and means of production were and probably still are overwhelmingly white. When you look back at the old Common Ground or Out (New Mexico) magazines that were being published in the 80s and 90s, the writers, the advertisers, the story subjects were mostly white. The owners of the bars were mostly, if not all white. The owners of the local lesbian feminist bookstore, Full Circle Books, who were wonderful, supportive women, were white. I recently spoke with a straight, cis, white elder from Albuquerque when I was doing research for this film and she used the phrase “the Hispanic people, the Native, people, and the American (white) people” when referring to a demographic of people that go to a particular establishment. She was well meaning, but it verified so much of what many of us people of color already know, that even in a place like Albuquerque, many white people think that people of color are unAmerican or not American. This makes it hard for people of color in general to even see ourselves in leadership roles, as business owners, or as people who are truly welcome wherever we go. Add being LGBTQ and we feel that within our own families and communities.
When was the first time you heard about The Whistle?
The first time I heard about the whistle was from the person who brought me out. She told me about it and might have tried to teach me. It was really hard to learn. It’s a super high-pitched sound made by sucking in. Many describe it as being like a dog whistle because it’s high-pitched and people only tend to hear it if they are tuned in to it. That made it very easy to use the whistle in a large crowd without anyone even noticing or hearing it. Anyway, I was obsessed with learning it and practiced and practiced until I finally got it. I think I annoyed all my friends who already knew it with how excited I was. I was like a little excited puppy.
There is a large Hispanic presence in this documentary. Did you seem to notice bullying for being both Hispanic and gay or was it one-sided?
To me, the bullying felt like it was specifically around being gay. Two of my biggest bullies were closeted Latina lesbians. I ran into one of them years later at a Melissa Etheridge concert.
You have some amazing interviews. What was this experience like creating this documentary?
It was a huge privilege to get to make this documentary. I was really nervous approaching participants as a trans man who they might not remember, or didn’t even know at the time. I was worried that they would not trust sharing their stories with this random dude. But everyone was so wonderful and warm and really shared so much of themselves. One participant, Gloria Vigil, started doing research on her own that ended up really helping to shape the film. Gloria and I met on Facebook when I was putting the word out about the project. She said she had some stories and after we spoke on the phone, she agreed to an interview. During her interview, I really saw how her generation (she’s about ten years older than I am) and those who came before her really shaped my experience coming out as a teen. The language and signals, the codes, the way she really cherished what was happening for her even at the time, those things were translated directly to me without ever having met her and her peers before. It confirmed how important our LGBTQ history is and how it shapes us and paves the way for us to get to be who we are.
What do you want viewers to take away from this documentary?
I want people to know about this really unique piece of Southwest LGBTQ history. I want people who were living these stories to see themselves reflected and celebrated. I want LGBTQ youth in the region to know who came before them. I want non-LGBTQ people to see how amazing and resourceful and resilient, and most importantly, how human we are. I want more LGBTQ people in the region to be inspired to research and document stories from their own communities.
The Whistle is supported in part by NALAC (the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures), The San Francisco Arts Commission/Independent Artists Commission, and The Horizons Foundation. Learn more at www.stormflorez.com/the-whistle.html
Fifty years ago history was made. This year we celebrate the night of the Stonewall Riots, which catapulted the LGBTQ movement. Many in the community know of this moment in history. Others are learning the story for the first time. Greta Schiller and the team behind the restored documentary, Beyond Stonewall, talk about life for the LGBTQ community before the stone was thrown in front of that landmark bar.
We celebrate another year of amazing role models in the community. The Vincent R. Johnson Models of Hope Award will honor Neil Macernie of Albuquerque Pride, Renato Estacio-Burdick of Twist and Sidewinders, Jax Sugars of TeeN’MPower and our Community Organization honoree, Casa Q.
We also interviewed StormMiguel Florez, director of the documentary, The Whistle, exploring the lesbian community at Del Norte High School during the 80s and a special call that let others know they’re not alone.
Happy Pride everyone. Be kind to each other and praise your history.
Teresa Maria Robinson-Ewers, Editor-in-Chief
PRIDE & Equality Magazine
PRIDE & Equality celebrates another year of Models of Hope. The Vincent R. Johnson Models of Hope Award honors individuals and organizations making a difference, being seen as role models in the community. This award has created a roster of quality honorees over the past twelve years and we are honored to have this year’s nominees join the lineup. Take a look at who we will be honoring at a special brunch on August 25th.
Community Honoree, Neil Macernie, Albuquerque Pride
If you haven’t heard the name Neil Macernie in the LGBTQ community, you are in for a treat. Neil is the epitome of volunteerism. Macernie has been a major asset for Albuquerque Pride for years holding many titles including President and now Vice-President of Public Relations. His introduction into the community is pretty much what you would expect. He “started by getting a group of friends together to create a pride float.” When it came to his childhood, Neil found it difficult. “It was very challenging as a youth,” shared Macernie. “Because you were expected to express yourself a certain way as a boy and people were very mean if you did not.”
When it comes to his advice for LGBTQ youth, it’s simple, “Don't be afraid to express yourself,” says Macernie. “I know it feels like the people in your school life are important, but that's less than a quarter of your life, you have only just begun. Find friends that will stand by you and advocate for you.”
Community Honoree, Renato Estacio-Burdick, Sidewinders & Twist
How did you get involved with the LGBTQ community?
I got involved because of a friend or a need in the community for 25 years now! In the 90s we served on leadership councils, led retreats, and emceed events. In 2011, our drag mother Martinique Toya-Bouvier, was recruiting for a softball tournament for the UCS, and a friend approached us to play on the team. We kept in contact with her for four years. We joined the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus in 2014, finalizing their paperwork for their 501(c)3 status. We remained on the board until 2018. In 2015, my husband, Michael, and I we took over Sidewinders Bar with the idea of finding a space that would welcome all artists and members of our community. Since then, we have been involved with the local chapter of the International Court System, which we served as Crown Prince XXV and Imperial Crown Princet XXV (first known nonbinary title in the system). I was also Wild Rose to the New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association. Prior to that, I served the Nevada diocese for our church as evangelists for LGBTQ members and for music. We also did outreach through music programs - singing and performing for LGBTQ groups. There was a need for a safe space and opportunities for organizations to raise funds, hold socials, and connect with others in our community. So we opened a cabaret as part of our bar and we get to liaise with over 40 different groups, 250+ entertainers, and overseeing various aspects of roughly 300 events.
What was life like when you were a youth?
Emotionally, life had its ups and downs when we were younger! We would be upset because of the inability to marry, no one would understand; there was lots of loneliness; however, there was one person in high school who was very “graceful” in his mannerisms, but we became competitive with each other, which was silly when you look back at it; we even competed to see who would date a certain “Sara.” We both turned out to be gay and out as adults! We were extremely artistic but also sporty, having run cross-country, being on our high school soccer for 4 years, and hurdling in track and field. We weren't going to let anyone say “gay” or not good enough; our youth was spent being the best we could be. Our outlook wasn’t always positive, but no one knew that. On the inside, there was hurt. On the outside, there were smiles.
What piece of advice would you give today LGBTQ youth?
Life always gets better. Look at where you want to be and do what you want for yourself to be the best person you can. Don't try to control everything in life; some things can't be controlled. Don’t hate and don’t use spite to fuel your actions. Love others, be kind, listen, and be understanding. Be a part of everything around you that helps you be the best you can be, serve the community, and help others judiciously - but don’t expect anything in return. Be grateful and be mindful of those who came before you, and support those who come after you. Nurture good relationships, and never put yourself on a pedestal. We are all equal. We all need love and encouragement. We are your family, and we are here to help you. Remember that united community members can better support each other and our future. Don’t jump on bandwagons that often cause hate and division in our community. Seek to understand and don’t always take action. Sometimes, no action is the best action after a wider lens is used. Be comfortable with who you are. Don't let anyone define you.
Community Honoree, Jax Sugars, TeeN’MPower
How did you get involved with the LGBTQ community?
I became involved with the LGBTQ community when I came out as transgender and started attending events at TGRCNM. Through them, they connected me to Planned Parenthood where I got a job leading the TEEN’MPower program and from there I became heavily involved in the community.
What was life like when you were a youth?
When I was a youth, LGB people were around and I knew a couple of them, but it wasn’t really talked about. Transgender people had low visibility and I didn’t know much about them or anyone who actively identified as trans, which was part of why I didn’t come out as trans until I was an adult. I didn’t see or know about anyone getting bullied for being LGBT, but I also kept to my small group of friends. Mostly, LGBT people were invisible and not talked about.
What piece of advice would you give today LGBTQ youth?
Advice I would give LGBTQ youth is to always be yourself. The right people will love and support you, and even if things are terrible right now, know that it does get better. It may not for a while and it may be a slow process, but it does get better. Never jeopardize your safety without a fallback plan, and only you know what’s best for yourself and what you need. You are strong and brave. Be true to yourself. You can do this.
Community Business/ Organization Honoree, Casa Q
The mission of Casa Q is to provide safe living options and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, as well as allies, who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Unlike emergency shelter programs, Casa Q provides residential and transitional living services in a home-like environment, complemented with comprehensive and individual case management.
When it comes to what piece of advice they would give to today’s youth, it truly follows why Models of Hope was created. “Find a mentor or role model in the broader LGBTQ community who you can relate and look up to. There are a lot of heroes in the international, national and local community who have done great work to earn our rights and freedoms. And if you grew up in a loving supportive home, reach out to someone who hasn’t. And if you lack that love and support, reach out to one of Albuquerque’s many youth-focused LGBTQ groups and find the support every person deserves. There’s a huge community of people waiting to help. Here’s a list: Gay Straight Alliances at most high schools, Common Bonds Under 21, UNM’s LGBTQ Resource Center, NM’Power, and, of course, Casa Q.
Purchase your tickets now to our honor brunch at http://www.myprideonline.com/models-of-hope.html
P&E - After Print
Here are some of the latest articles and topics in the GLBT community.