Executive Director Jan Hefner talks about her personal journey that brought her to be a member of The Center’s core leadership: acting, theater, advertising, AIDs activism and community health work. Born and raised in Bakersfield, Hefner gives us a glimpse into what she finds challenging and rewarding about working as an LGBTQ advocate here in Kern County.
Do you face specific challenges as a member of the LGBTQ community in this particular area, the Central Valley?
It's interesting. I was born here, and except for the two years I lived in LA, I've lived here all of my life. I've never felt the need to flee Bakersfield as a place, but I acknowledge there are a lot of people who really have struggled being here.
I'm not sure why I never felt the need to flee, but really attribute it a lot to the community I found through theater because there were a lot of LGBTQ people in theater.
Were you out in your daily life?
I had not considered myself closeted, but I also didn't talk about "those things that we're not supposed to talk about." And I was partnered during almost all of my time when I worked at the newspaper, and I talked about my partners but not in a partner kind of way. You know, roommates or friends or whatever.
But there were several people that I became friends with, and of course they knew, and we talked about it openly.
When I got involved in the Center, before I was hired here, I was a spokesperson for the news, because of my marketing background.
I distinctly remember standing on the corner outside my office over on the corner behind the hospital, with the news crew who wanted to shoot it outside because of the light. I was doing something about transgender rights. I'd done lots of TV, I'd done commercials and all that. But I remember my stomach just flopping over, because it was the first time that I was going to be on TV advocating for the LGBTQ community.
And it just made me incredibly nervous.
But it's like anything else, because you go through and you think, "OK, that was okay, nothing broke" - and then you do it some more. And now we're doing these TV spots that are out there, and it's going to be interesting to see what kind of response there is to those.
[Click "Read More" below to read the full interview with Jan Hefner.]
By Jose M Granados
Public opinion and support for LGBTQ rights have tipped to the positive side, even in Bakersfield and Kern County. The latest surveys and polls show that nearly half of Americans and 64% of those who identify as LGBT allies say they are more likely to spend money with businesses that are LGBT inclusive – see “Being LGBT Inclusive Is Good for Business, Survey Finds” on Fortune.com and “Why Many Businesses Are Becoming More Vocal In Support of LGBTQ Rights” on hbr.org.
Clearly, welcoming all customers, including LGBTQ and their allies, can have a wide range of economic impacts for your business, the city and the community - from recruiting educated and talented employees to the ability for the city to attract corporate investment, tourism, conventions and major events. In a 2016 poll, nearly 50% of American meeting planners said they would avoid planning events in places that pass anti-LGBTQ legislation. Since then, several business coalitions have popped up around the nation making the economic case for nondiscrimination, inclusion and diversity.
As the general support for LGBTQ grows, so does the economic incentives for companies to position themselves in sync with that growing sentiment. Embracing inclusion and diversity is not just ethically and morally right, it is also good for business. Being LGBTQ-friendly makes your company more profitable. Is your company ready to create an inclusive environment for your team and customers? Is your business ready to tap the growing LGBTQ market? If you are, great! If you are not, help is here. Reach out to The Center for Sexually & Gender Diversity and they will walk you through the process of how to become an LGBTQ friendly business and how to tap into the growing LGBTQ market segments. Either way, you should attend the next abOUT Kern business mixer, a professional networking event for LGBTQ+ people and allies. The event is Thursday, April 4, 2019 5pm – 7pm, at California State University, Bakersfield, Stockdale Room, 9001 Stockdale Hwy, Bakersfield, CA 93311 – download the flyer below for details. The event is free and open to everyone.
LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning
Jose M Granados
is a longtime member of the Bakersfield community and a member of the Board of Directors at The Center for Sexually & Gender Diversity. He can be reached at email@example.com.
As you know, sexual orientation and gender identity are not asked in many national surveys – including the Census – which can make it difficult to advocate for the resources that our communities need to thrive. Our programs and advocacy work is stronger when we are all counted.
That’s why we’re excited to share the #Out4MentalHealth Community Survey with you.
This survey is designed to capture the lived experiences of diverse LGBTQ Californians, and the factors affecting our health and wellbeing. The results of the #Out4MentalHealth Community Survey will better direct statewide and local advocacy efforts for programs, resources, and policy changes that will meet the needs of our communities.
Please take the time to take the survey and share with others who would be interested. Our social media toolkit provides sample graphics, Facebook, and Twitter posts, as well as a sample email and flyer you can display at your work or anywhere LGBTQ people gather locally.
Everyone ages 18 and up who completes the survey will have a chance to win a gift card worth up to $50. The first 500 youth ages 17 or under to take the survey can claim a $5 gift card.
Share your experiences and make sure your voice is counted in the #Out4MentalHealth Community Survey!
Jerry’s Pizza sounds like a name for a common pizza place, right? However, this establishment, which is located in downtown Bakersfield, happens to be a popular venue for fun social events and local music shows. With Bakersfield being a small city, Jerry’s Pizza provides some form of entertainment for the younger generations and people belonging to different scenes, whether you’re heavily involved or you’re just there to see what these shows have to offer.
When I first started attending these shows, I was fairly new to everything and to this day I still feel like I am. I never would have expected to have spent the past two years going to shows during my free time and supporting local bands. I never imagined that someday, I’d be interviewing some of these bands and writing about it.
This past January, I had the pleasure to interview With Liberty, one of the opening bands performing with Aggravated Friction, Defected Drones, Hybrid Saints, and The Afraid for their West Coast Winter Warriors Tour. Both official members and brothers, Marco and Joey, were kind enough to provide me with insight on what it's like to be on tour and their history as a band (and also gave me a free gift of some of their merch)!
Q&A With the Band
So tell me your band name and where you’re from.
Joey: We’re With Liberty. I’m Joey and I play bass and do vocals for the band.
Marco: I’m Marco, or M6, and I play guitar and also do vocals for the band. We’re from Panorama City, or from the LA area.
What genre would you consider yourselves to be?
Joey: Our genre would be somewhere along the lines of melodic hardcore, with some elements of thrash, punk rock, and heavy metal.
Can you tell me a bit more about With Liberty ?
Marco: With Liberty is a band which tends to have heavy punk influences which can often lead to political themes, but our music isn’t overly political. We also see ourselves as huge Metallica fans.
Who are your biggest influences?
Marco: We’re influenced by bands like NOFX, Bad Religion..
Joey: And also by Rebel Spell and Metallica.
Are you currently signed to a record label?
Joey: We’re not currently signed to any record label, but we are looking and hoping to be signed soon.
What are some of the craziest events that have happened to you while on tour/performing?
Marco: So, during one of our tours, we almost hit a cow.
Joey: The cow was standing in the middle of the road and wouldn’t move either. It was as if it was really comfortable being on the road.
Are you two a member of other bands or organizations?
Joey: We used to be in a metal band, but now we’re just involved in With Liberty.
Can you tell me more about your instruments? Do they have any form of personalized modifications?
Joey: Marco actually customized his guitar so that it has color changing LED lights.
Marco: Not only does my guitar change colors, but my amp also does too.
How has the tour gone for you guys so far?
Joey: Well, so far, it’s been pretty good. It’s our first time to ever perform in Bakersfield so that’s a new experience we’ve got.
What other venues have you guys performed in and where else do you hope to be able to perform?
Joey: We’ve mainly performed out in LA in venues such as the Lexington, Watts Cave, and Pop Studios. Our main goal is to perform in one of the many House of Blues.
Can you briefly explain the songwriting process?
Joey: When it comes to us writing songs, we both work on one song. I’ll come up with one part, he’ll come up with another, we’ll look into both parts and make them into one song. It’s almost like putting together a puzzle.
After my brief interview with the band, I decided to stick around with some of my good friends and watched them perform their set. Seeing a band perform has always been fun for me, but watching them perform with a lot of enthusiasm like I saw that night was honestly the best experience for me.
Even though I was somewhat unprepared for this interview, I genuinely had a lot of fun being a part of it and I hope to be able to interview and watch them perform again soon.
Check out the band...
SoundCloud - https://soundcloud.com/withlibertyband
BandCamp - https://withlibertyband.bandcamp.com/
Instagram - @withlibertyband
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WithLibertyBand/
About The Author: Monica Chairez
Monica Chairez is a twenty-year-old college student currently attending CSUB as a psychology major. Her preferred pronouns are she/her/hers and she currently works on interviewing bands and spreading the word on the local music scene.
Lou Medina, President of the Board of Directors of The Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity, is a former staff writer for The Bakersfield Californian and an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction stories and short plays. His story, “Cub” which we feature in this month’s issue of The Center’s e-newsletter, was inspired by a Center event Lou attended in 2015: the screening at one of our movie nights, of a Spanish-language documentary film called “El Canto del Colibrí” (in English, “The Song of the Hummingbird”), about Hispanic dads who are supportive of their trans children’s coming into the fulness of their gender identity. “Cub” won Third Prize in the Writers of Kern (WOK) Fall Writing Contest that year and is featured in an anthology WOK published in late 2018.
We present it here in celebration of and solidarity with our local trans community and International Transgender Day of Visibility, which is observed on March 31. Lou, who is gay, lives in Bakersfield with his two male cats, Rescue and Groom.
“Cub”: A Short, Fictional Story of a Parent’s Loving Affirmation of Their Trans Child
Did you catch the Oscars this past weekend? By all accounts, this has been a good year for queer representation in film.
Rami Malek won Best Actor for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Malek captured the physicality of Mercury onstage with his band Queen incredibly well, even impressing original Queen bandmates Roger Taylor and Brian May. Bohemian Rhapsody won three other awards for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing (unsurprisingly) as well as Editing (which was a little more surprising).
Olivia Colman took home Best Actress for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite, a comedy-drama about lesbian affairs at the 18th century English royal court, in a bit of an upset given Colman isn't that well-known in the US. Colman, whose first major role was in the cult comedy Peep Show and who plays another queen, Queen Elizabeth, in The Crown, is better known in the UK, but that's about to change. Her acceptance speech was a winner, too.
Did you see Bohemian Rhapsody or The Favourite? What did you think about the nominations and awards this year?
More about this year's Oscar-winners around the web:
Rami Malek Talks Becoming Freddie Mercury for Bohemian Rhapsody: A short interview with the actor on his process. You can see why he was a critic's favorite to win Best Actor - the effort and thoughtfulness Malek put into his portrayal is definitely award-worthy.
Out also published A Guide for What Rami Malek Needs to Say in His Best Actor Speech suggesting the actor make mention of Mercury's HIV status and his bisexuality, as well as call out director Bryan Singer (who was fired mid-way through filming amid scandal).
The Favourite: The true story behind Queen Anne’s lesbian affairs in Oscar-tipped movie: Pink News investigates whether Queen Anne's relationships with her female friends were romantic or platonic, taking a look at the social norms of the time period.
‘Can You Ever Forgive’ the academy for overlooking these queer films?: Gold Derby rounds up Can You Ever Forgive Me? and thirty-four other LGBTQ films that the Academy has under-rewarded over the years.
Finally, check out the Advocate's Forget 'Green Book,' Here's 16 Queer Things the Oscars Got Right.
We are thrilled to announce The Center's two newest staff members!
Mike Gonzalez joined us in November 2018 as Client Advocate. He brings many years of experience in connecting people with HIV/AIDS to services. For The Center, he travels throughout the county to connect with agencies about how to affirm their LGBTQ+ clients, provides counseling services, and assists in establishing support groups and cultural competency trainings. Mike can be contacted at 661-404-5209 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dani Muñoz is joining us in February as Youth & Outreach Liaison after two years of volunteering for The Center, including serving as a board member. They bring with them deep experience and passion for developing programs to support young people. Dani will head up development of The Center’s Youth Programs and collaborations with schools and other partner agencies seeking to improve the local educational environment for LGBTQ+ students. They can be contacted at 661-404-5209 or at email@example.com.
The Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity is proud to announce the addition of three new members to our Board of Directors in 2019. Timothy Lafond, Deirdre O'Rourke and Brie Chartier are joining continuing members Louis Medina, (Chair of the Board), Cindy Smith and Jose M. Granados to bring the total number of board members to six. There are three remaining seats open and we are currently accepting applications (details below).
The Board of Directors is excited to have the talent and experience of our new members as a powerful addition to our leadership team. We're looking forward to the coming year, working towards The Center's urgent mission: to provide Kern County's LGBTQ residents with safe, welcoming spaces where all people from the full spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations are celebrated.
get to know our new board members
Pronouns: (pronouns they/them/theirs)
Background: Education and community work. Tim has been a staff volunteer with the Center for more than a year.
Deirdre O'Rourke, PhD
Pronouns: (pronouns she/her/hers)
Background: Education and non-profit organizations.
Quote: "Through my work, volunteer experience, and personal life, I've learned how crucial support systems are for non-heteronormative individuals. I understand how individuals with intersectional identities are at greater risk for victimization and discrimination and how inadequate systems can be at meeting their needs."
Pronouns: (pronouns she/her/hers)
Quote: "In my short time as a volunteer at The Center, I’ve met people from all ages and walks of life who have willingly shared their stories and experience and helped me grow as a person."
continuing board members
Pronouns: (pronouns he/his/him)
Position: Chair of the Board & Chair of Community Outreach
Pronouns: (pronouns she/her/hers)
Position: Board Member & Chair of the Fundraising Committee
Jose M. Granados
Pronouns: (pronouns he/his/him)
Position: Board Member & Volunteer Coordinator
2019 Board of Directors with the Treasurer and newest staff member, Dani Munoz
From left to right: Jan Dunlap, Jose M. Granados, Dani Munoz, Timothy Lafond, Cindy Smith, Deirdre O'Rourke, Brie Chartier, and Louis Medina.
About the board of directors
The duties of the Board of Directors include planning and executing overall strategy for the organization; managing fundraising; serving on committees and task forces; ensuring legal procedures are followed and financial resources are properly managed; and recruiting new Directors.
To the extent that qualified persons are available, the Board of Directors works to ensure board composition reflects the diversity of the community served by The Center.
2 years, beginning in January
Two consecutive terms
You must be 21 years or older. During each year, Board Members make a financial commitment of $1,500 to the Center (which can be fulfilled in the following ways). We seek board members with time, leadership skills, creative vision, personal integrity, experience and commitment.
call for board member applications
There are two remaining seats open on the Board for which we are accepting new applications.
How Applications Work
Candidates are nominated by board members or can self-nominate. After submitting their application, candidates interview with the current board members. The board members then vote on the nomination; if the applicant receives a majority of votes, they are accepted to the Board. The application period each year is in November and December, with elections in December.
The Center's bylaws are set up so that half of the board members turnover every year. This keeps the the leadership fresh with new ideas as well as opening up the opportunity to more of our community members.
about the center for sexuality and gender diversity
Founded in 2011, The Center serves 200 to 300 individuals a month, with many using The Center weekly. There are an estimated 50,000 residents in Kern County who identify as LGBTQ. The Center's goal is to provide resources to this community by creating safe, supportive spaces for those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender - all people along the entire spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations. The Center achieves this through community building activities, counseling, workshops, networking events, peer-to-peer support groups, one-on-one advocacy and support, referrals for medical providers and services, and LGBTQ cultural competency training.
What: The Laramie Project - A special performance benefiting the The Center
Where: Bakersfield Community Theatre, 2400 S Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93304
When: Saturday, October 6, 2018, Hospitality reception - 6:30 PM, Curtain - 8:00 PM
Theater Nights have become one of the The Center's signature events! This year, we are proud to be the Premier Sponsor of the Bakersfield Community Theatre's production of "The Laramie Project". Hailed as one of the most captivating and encompassing pieces of contemporary theater, the play shocks, challenges, and moves all who watch it as it reveals the lowest depths of hatred and greatest heights of compassion that lies within all human beings in any seemingly average community.
The Play background:
In October 1998 in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming, Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old student at the University of Wyoming, was tied to a fence post, severely beaten, robbed, tortured and left, alone, to die. His body -- battered, bloody, barely clinging to life -- was discovered eighteen hours later. He was rushed to the hospital and put on life support. He died five days later. The reason for this brutal crime? Matthew Shepard was gay.
The hate crime attracted vast attention worldwide, bringing sexual discrimination and violence to the forefront of public discourse. The Tectonic Theater Project, led by their founder Moisés Kaufman, traveled to Laramie in the aftermath of the murder with the intent of creating a theatrical portrait of a town coming to grips with horrible, hate-fueled violence. Over the course of a year and a half, the group interviewed over 200 subjects, some directly related to the case and some regular citizens of Laramie. Out of these interviews, journal entries, and found texts, The Laramie Project was born.
Join your Center's friends and the local LGBTQ community at the historic Bakersfield Community Theatre, where hospitality will flow and friends will gather in community and harmony. Savor cowboy chic food, beer, wine and sodas at a pre-show reception on the brick veranda. You will have the opportunity to mingle with friends old and new, take home treasures from our multiple drawings, and then settle in to enjoy the premier performance of this griping production of The Laramie Project.
Your ticket includes the show, food and drinks. Your participation will benefit and ensure that The Center continues providing a local easy access information hub, safe and supportive spaces and services to the LGBTQ+ community.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased online, or by cash or check at The Center’s Annex location, 841 Mohawk St., Suite 260, Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 1:30 pm. Center Board Members also have tickets available for purchase.
GET YOUR TICKETS ONLINE NOW! JUST CLICK THE ICON BELOW!
For more information, please contact The Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 661-843-7995
The Laramie Project is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.
Note - Parking at BCT is available in the lot behind the theatre, accessible via Wilson Rd and So. O Street.
When: Friday, September 21, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Where: The Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity - 902 18th St, Bakersfield, CA 93301
Please join us for this important community conversation at the Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity, in partnership with the Kegley Institute of Ethics and CSUB Institute for Religion, Education, and Public Policy (IREPP). This event will be hosted at the Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity (902 18th Street, Bakersfield) and will feature an informal mix and mingle (starting at 6:00 pm) followed by a panel and discussion (starting at 6:30 pm). Featured speakers include:
Moderated by Dr. Nate Olson, KIE Associate Director
For more information, please contact The Center.
are made possible thanks to our awesome team! Valerie Urso, Content Marketing Manager, and The Center's volunteer bloggers. To join the team, or to share your feedback or ideas please email the team at email@example.com