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Hundreds Celebrate Dedication of ‘Jewel Thais-Williams Square’

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LOS ANGELES — Thais-Williams is the second black woman and the first Black lesbian to receive honors in the City’s history. Over 400 people came out to witness the historic designation by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson of “Jewel Thais-Williams Square” in Arlington Heights Saturday. 

The square sits at Pico Boulevard and Norton Avenue in front of the site of the night club she founded in 1972, ‘Jewel’s Catch One’, that became a safe haven for the Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Thais-Williams has since become recognized by many as a matriarch of Los Angeles’ Black LGBT community.  With this designation, Thais-Williams becomes the second Black woman in the history of the City of Los Angeles to have a square named after her and the first Black lesbian to receive the honor.  

For over four decades, Thais-Williams helped change the course of our country by breaking down racial, social and cultural barriers. One of the original safe spaces for the Black LGBT community, The Catch, also served as a refuge for many during the AIDS crisis.

LGBT and human rights activist Jewel Thais-Williams addresses the hundreds gathered at the Catch One nightclub in Los Angeles in honor of her square dedication. Jewel opened ‘Jewel’s Catch One’ at the intersection of Pico Blvd. and Norton Ave. in 1972 and it quickly became a safe haven for the Black LGBT community in Los Angeles. Photo credit Office of Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson.

As Thais-Williams’ club grew to become known as the “unofficial Studio 54 of the West Coast,” Jewel became a national role model for how to fight discrimination and serve the less fortunate. 

Thais-Williams graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History; and during her college years, she wanted to be self-employed. Her first business was a boutique, but it went out of business, so she bought a bar.

She opened the club after she experienced discrimination in different clubs around West Hollywood because she was Black and female. Women at the time were not allowed to tend bar, but Jewel saved enough money and bought the bar despite the limitations.

When the club opened, it became a hub for a diverse population of performers, including Sylvester, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Janet Jackson, Donna Summer, Whoopi Goldberg, Rick James and Madonna.

While she was still the nightclub owner, Jewel went back to school and got her Master’s of Science in Oriental Medicine from Samra University in 1998. Due to the high rate of preventable diseases such as diabetes and obesity in minority populations, Jewel decided to open a non-profit called the Village Health Foundation next door to The Catch.

Jewel Thais-Williams and her wife, Rue, with Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson as the sign is unveiled. Photo credit Office of Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson.

It was created with the purpose of educating lower-income communities on nutrition and living a more healthy lifestyle and continues to serve the community. As profiled by journalist, Karen Ocamb, “Thais-Williams became a mother figure to many, helping her ‘kids’ get clean and sober and providing comfort to Black gay men rejected by their families and church during the AIDS crisis.”

But Thais-Williams took the extra step and co-founded the Minority AIDS Project and Imani Unidos Food Pantry in South L.A. while joining the Board of AIDS Project Los Angeles to bring their HIV/AIDS services ‘down to the hood.’ Ocamb continued, “additionally, with her wife, Rue, Thais-Williams founded Rue’s House, the nation’s first housing facility for women with AIDS and their children, most of whom were poor and Black.” 

Thais-Williams funded Rue’s House from revenue at The Catch. A number of the women living with AIDS staying here publicly raised the issue of what would happen to their children after they died.  After the women gained access to life-saving HIV medications, Rue’s House transition to a sober living facility. 

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Affordable Housing

LA LGBT Senior Services Affordable Housing Event -Feb 21

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PLUMMER PARK — The Los Angeles LGBT Center has a new development in senior housing, and are offering info and answering questions about 98 new affordable and accessible units -tomorrow at Plummer Park. The development, located at 1127 N Las Palmas, Los Angeles CA 90038, will be open in fall 2020, brought to us in part by Thomas Safran and Associates.

The Center’s case managers are experts at helping seniors navigate the complex world of Social Security, Medicare, affordable housing, and more. Please join them and learn about how to grab one of these apartments and what what services they offer for veteran and disabled community members.

Applications will be available Feb. 26-March 4.

More information about the housing at mccaddencampus.com

RSVP for Senior Services events through the Senior Services Portal (seniors.lalgbtcenter.org).

The Center’s website states “The LGBT Center is a safe and welcoming place where individuals of all ages can find help, as well as hope and support, when they need it the most…From housing homeless youth to providing affordable housing for seniors—and from helping transgender people find employment to providing legal support for asylum seekers—no organization serves more LGBT people than the Center.”

Check their calendar for upcoming activities and events that include:

  • Health and wellness programs
  • Enrichment classes (computer, writing, dancing, acting, photograph, etc.)
  • Monthly dinners and social networking opportunities
  • Cultural excursions (theater, opera, museums, etc.)
  • Educational seminars and workshop
  • Senior-Youth Photo Project
  • Senior-Youth Dinners

More info about the center at lalgbtcenter.org

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City

WeHo Chemsex Town Hall Panel Focused on Meth Crisis in the LGBTQ Community

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WEST HOLLYWOOD (WeHo Times) — “What makes your dick hard?” That was one of the questions that panelist Tom Pardoe, explored at West Hollywood’s Chemsex Town Hall panel this past Wednesday, February 12.

The town hall discussion centered around sex and drugs and why too many in the LGBT community, mainly gay men, turn to dangerous party drugs like meth, GHB, ecstasy and cocaine to reduce inhibitions that allows them to engage in sexual activity that turns them on and is often times stigmatized and deemed shameful.

The Chemsex Town Hall , moderated by West Hollywood council member John Duran and Alexis Sanches, Assistant Program Manager with the Institute for Public Strategies (IPS), attracted a decent crowd of community members.

The panelist were diverse in the politically correct sense, with a mixture of gay, lesbian, […]

Continue reading at wehotimes.com

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Health

ABC Boss Hosts Fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Transyouth Center

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Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, who has been treating patients at the Children's Hospital Transyouth Center since 2006.

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Report) — The ABC Network President and ‘Project Runway’ creator is honoring the work of Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, who has been treating patients at the Children’s Hospital Transyouth Center since 2006.

Upon a first glance of the Bottega Lorenzetto Art Studio, visitors can see walls covered with abstract portraitures not only bold in shape and color, but also fluid in design.

The colorful gallery located on Sunset in West Hollywood became the site for a fundraiser event on Saturday aimed to benefit The Center for Transyouth Health and Development.

The fundraiser was hosted by Project Runway creator Jane Cha Cutler and ABC Network President Karey Burke, who spent the night honoring the work of Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, a longtime physician at the […]

Continue reading at hollywoodreporter.com

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