Carrie and I both want to thank all of you for your awesome work this past month. May is always a very busy time of year for advocacy since the state budget is being finalized. We think you should feel proud of yourselves for answering the Call to Action on several key issues that effect our community. Your letters and stories helped make a big difference when these items were being decided upon.
Now that the state budget work is behind us we are moving forward with advocating for making the Dodger Stadium Express accessible. The inaccessibility of the Dodger Express was brought to the attention of LA Metro Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC), by our team member Kathleen Barajas. The AAC Executive Committee decided to also write a letter asking for improved access at the stadium. So stay tuned for further updates
June Pride Month
By Kristy Madden
As most of you know, June is Pride Month when we celebrate the gay rights movement, gay history and culture. In that spirit, I’d like to celebrate the life of Frances “Franco” Stevens, the lesbian activist and founder/editor of “Deneuve” and “Curve” Magazines and a proponent of inclusion way ahead of her time.
Franco grew up in Potomac, Maryland, the fourth of five children. When she was 18, she married a US Army doctor and moved to San Francisco. Upon finding out that his wife had become a lesbian, her husband outed her to her family and she was thrown out of their lives with no money or even a place to live. She lived out of her car until she found a job working for the famous gay bookstore A Different Light. They even provided her with a tiny apartment to live in.
Through her new job, Franco became immersed in the world of gay publishing and culture where she found a home and acceptance. It was at this time that she literally took an amazing gamble. (Warning: Kids, I suggest that you don’t do this at home). She filled out every credit card application she could find, then took the money to the racetrack. And she won big when her horses came in first and second!
With that money, in 1990, she founded “Deneuve”, the first magazine which proudly featured the word “Lesbian” on the cover. It was a beautiful glossy magazine which focused on the variety of lesbians in the world, politics, news, celebrity interviews, style and travel. Inclusion was Franco’s guiding light and she featured stories and pictures from women of all races and backgrounds. Hers was the first gay magazine to embrace the transgender and queer disabled communities. Deneuve featured prominent advertisers like Budweiser and Warner Brothers and gained a large subscriber base. Because of that, Franco became pretty famous herself, appearing on many tv shows where the gay experience was discussed, including Geraldo and on CNN. Also she served on the board of directors for GLAAD and was a founding member of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.
Then in 1995, calamity struck when the actress Catherine Deneuve sued over trademark infringement saying that the magazine didn’t have the right to use her name as the title. Even though Franco denied that she’d named it after the actress, she was forced to change the name because she couldn’t afford the legal fees.
In 1996, “Deneuve” was relaunched as “Curve Magazine” which was also successful. The first cover featured Martina Navratilova who’d only just come out. The magazine continued to be published and featured several celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge and Lily Tomlin.
In 1997, Franco was badly injured in a freak accident. She was carrying boxes of the magazines and tripped over a carpet edge. She dropped the boxes onto the tops of her feet, breaking all of the bones. She thought she’d just have surgery and recover. But in a twist that’s all too familiar to us disabled people, the severe pain just wouldn’t go away. Further surgeries to remedy the situation didn’t help, so Franco had to curtail her activities and began relying on a powerchair and service dog.
In 2010, Curve Magazine was sold, a move that Franco felt was right at the time. But the new owner made decisions which were upsetting to her, including stripping the word “Lesbian” from the cover.
Franco Stevens reacquired Curve Magazine in 2021 and it’s now a part of the Curve Foundation, a non-profit online resource which will serve to amplify the voices of lesbians, queer women, trans women, and non-binary people of all races, ages and abilities. The archives of Deneuve and Curve Magazine are being added there, as well as new content.
You can see more about Franco’s story in the 2020 award-winning documentary “Ahead of the Curve” which is available to rent or buy online. The musical score is composed by Meshell Ndegeocello and I highly recommend it. It features older footage of Franco, but also new footage of her in her powerchair with her wife Jen Rainin and her service dog. It’s heartening to see that life hasn’t stopped for this vibrant pioneer.
By Kim Vuong
My name is Kim Vuong. I am the community liaison at Tichenor Clinic for Children in Long Beach, which provides therapy for young clients up through age 18 and support for their parents.
I started out as a volunteer at Tichenor, and after two years was hired as a staff member. I used to work with the early intervention children’s group. I still do that but now I am more focused on working with the teens.
One of my projects at Tichenor has been developing and teaching life skills classes. A lot of our parents were concerned with their children not having the ability to take care of themselves, and wanted them to have the opportunity to be independent. But the parents didn’t necessarily know how to teach a disabled person how to manage everyday tasks and find adaptive ways of doing things. When I researched this issue, I discovered that while schools provide life skills training starting at age 16 and the Regional Center offers training at age 18, there wasn’t anything available for younger teenagers. That was a critical gap, because it’s important for young people to start developing these skills early so that they can gain confidence and gradually build upon their abilities.
For that reason, I started the life skills classes three years ago with my coworker, who is an occupational therapist. We teach them how to cook, wash their clothes and shop for groceries.
In addition, I’ve realized that it’s important for teenagers to learn how to advocate for themselves and planning for their future. For that reason, last summer I decided to start a support group for disabled teens with my friend Deaka. We use games and music to get the teens to learn strategies for self-advocacy and to think about what they want to do in the years ahead, such as going to college.
You’ve probably heard that old song with the opening line, “I believe that children are our future,” but there’s another line that comes after that, “Teach them well and let them lead the way.” There really is a lot of truth in those words. It’s important for them to have this sort of support so that they can see what is possible for them, and understand what they need to do to achieve their dreams.
CALIF SWAT Meeting Minutes
May 26, 2021
Participants: Cynde Soto, Carrie Madden, Tina Foafoa, Kathleen Barajas and Kristy Madden.
Kristy attended the DRC COVID Webinar and spoke at Governor Newsom’s Budget Rally.
Carrie delivered comments at 2 SSI meetings.
We have over 1,000 contacts for CALIF on Facebook.
The LA County Fair is permanently opening early when the heat isn’t as bad, starting in May 2022.
Metro has an $5 express bus to Dodger Stadium from Union Station, but the ramp is out of compliance because there’s no sidewalk.
Kathleen suggested writing a letter to Dodger Stadium asking them to make an island for the disabled to disembark onto.
SWAT will write a letter with everyone’s comments attached.
The Metro Accessibility Advisory Committee will also write a letter. We can find out the maximum gradients of different wheelchairs so we can inform Metro.
Disability History Week
Cynde met with Long Beach officials and got disability history week into their schools.
This afternoon, the Bus Furniture Study is going before the LA City Council at 2:00pm and they’re open for comments. Participation only via telephone. Cynde commented about real-time bus arrivals and water stations. Carrie will say that more sun shelters are needed.
Almost all of the legislation we were working for is being worked on now. We plan to ask again for support for Biden’s Build Back Better Plan for long-term support services.
Cynde chairs Metro Meetings that are very good. They meet the 2nd Thursday of the month from 10:30am-12:30pm. We’ll be sending out a letter inviting SWAT Members to join because we need more members. We’ll also put links in the newsletter along with Cynde’s Twitter handle.
Carrie wants us to make TikTok videos for a SWAT summertime project on the topic “Why We’re Not Special”. We need to be thinking of ideas for this.
Tina said that the new Next Gen improvements have made Metro stops too far from each other. And some stop signs aren’t close to the shelter. We need to bring that up.
Carrie wants some type of beacon, so bus drivers know to slow down to look for disabled passengers.
With Next Gen, there’s now up to a half mile between bus stops. They removed stops in small neighborhoods, so that buses would make less stops.
Carrie will also bring this up at the ADRC Meeting.
Meeting ended at 1:13pm.
Next SWAT Meeting June 30 12pm - 1pm
Cynde Soto is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Time: Jun 30, 2021 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 811 6789 0384
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