Over the years I have met so many people and there are a number of them that I remember and their impact on the growth of the desert gay community. Gloria Greene is one of our desert
community heroes. The following editorial ran in our January 15, 1999 edition on her passing.
OUR DESERT MOM
Some twenty years ago, on my first visit to the Palm Springs area, I had the opportunity of meeting Gloria Greene. At that time she had a restaurant called His & Hers located in Cathedral City, one of a handful of establishments serving the fledgling desert gay community. This was the period when the GAF was on the corner of Cathedral Canyon Drive & Ramon Road, Aunt Hatties was at Date Palm Drive & Highway 111, Buns was the popular neighborhood bar, the Party Room was in full swing and C.C. Construction was just opening on Perez Road. It was the pre-AIDS era of fun and carefree living.
During those twenty years I saw Gloria open the Palm Cafe, move to a North Palm Canyon spot, relocate to the Sand Castle, move to Georgio's, onto Two Glorias, and then El Cielo Road and Sweetwater. Each and every time Gloria's army of friends and chosen family members followed her. And at each location she offered good food and drink and lots of love. Oftentimes more food in Gloria's pantries went to the less fortunate in the desert. She made sure no one went hungry. That's why I, with the greatest respect, consider her the "Mother of the Desert Gay Community." She's always been there for us. There were numerous nights after a long day at the office I'd head over to Glo's for a good home cooked meal and a hug. A little compassion, a strong shoulder, parental advice, a drive home, a place to crash, a benefit - Gloria has always been there. Her goodness and love has made such a difference to countless individuals. Her strength and tenacity helped to establish the AIDS Assistance Program that oversees food distribution and vouchers. The AAP continues to serve hundreds of people each week.
Gloria Greene passed away early in
January. Her lasting legacy of love and compassion will serve as a model for our community. Gloria enriched our lives, nourished our hunger, entertained our souls - and our valley community is a better place because she was a very Special
Lady. We will truly miss her.
Jeannette Rockefeller is another desert hero. The following editorial appeared in our edition of December 19, 1997 upon her passing.
A LADY OF DISTINCTION
Jeannette Rockefeller was a remarkable woman. In her 79 years she championed causes ranging from civil rights to mental health. As the wife of the late Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, she was credited with spearheading "education and cultural outreach across the state through the Arkansas Arts Center - and was a strong voice against discrimination, with an uncanny ability to relate to the common man and woman," recalled President Clinton. "She was a pioneering first lady of Arkansas, helping her husband bring the 'New South' to our state and leading women into the mainstream of political and public life."
A longtime foe of racism and segregation at a turning point in the civil rights movement, Jeannette organized a memorial service for assassinated Dr. Martin King Jr. on the steps of the Capitol. She also served on the national board of the Urban League, president of the National Mental Health Association during the 50s and 60s, and as a member of the Presidential Commission on Mental Health during the Johnson and Nixon administrations.
A valley resident since 1988, Jeannette Rockefeller served on the boards of the Palm Springs Desert Museum and Desert Hospital, as well as helping create the AIDS Assistance Program. According to Alan Keller, "She just absolutely lives morning, noon and night - she was a terrific organizer and a very generous person. A lot of it went unheralded."
Over the years, Jeannette exemplified the true spirit of compassion and caring. You could always find her at the AAP benefits - the annual Hoe-Down, the Thanksgiving Sharing, An Evening Under the Stars - she was always there. Her involvement was continuous and her sincerity was profound. Through the support of the desert community AAP continues to supply food vouchers to people affected by HIV/AIDS and the quality of life has been raised because of Jeannette's involvement and commitment. We will always remember her strength of character and the depth of her compassions.
MAN AMONG MEN
The following editorial appeared in the June 30, 2000 edition upon the passing of desert hero, Herb Lazenby.
A LEGACY OF LOVE
A dear friend died. A doctor, a confessor, a priest, a humanitarian - a Man among men. His compassion and love of individuals was manifested throughout his life. His humanitarian efforts touched lives, helping to comfort and ease the pain and difficulties ranging from the aging process to AIDS patients and their daily requirements.
Through his efforts and those of Gloria Greene, Jeanette Rockefeller, John Mathews, Al Anthony, Nancy Dolensek and Blair Alexander created the AIDS Assistance Program. The AAP was formed to provide community service to patients through the food voucher program.
Besides the AAP, Herb served our desert community with his involvement that includes: the Mental Health Association, Desert Council on Aging, the Welwood Murray Memorial Library, the Desert Business Association and the Rotary Club.
To his family, friends and his life partner, Thom Walsh, we extend our deepest sympathy. Herb Lazenby was a true role model. Our desert community is the beneficiary of a legacy of love and lifetime of compassion - and we will be forever grateful.
REMEMBERING BIG AL
The following editorial appeared in our October 2, 1992 edition when Al Anthony passed unexpectedly.
Soaring to the heavens and plummeting to the depths on the wings of emotions we are reminded that our world is temporal. As we pass through the world the touch of kindred souls rewards our journey with the warmth of friendship and love. I first met Al Anthony some eleven years ago when he was organizing the first Desert AIDS Benefit at the Riviera Hotel. His exuberance and energy was contagious. Literally, everyone helped with the event. He organized the legion of the valley residents into an army of volunteers. Each person contributed his or her time decorating the grand ballroom, setting the table gifts, printing programs, rehearsing songs, writing press releases, arranging floral centerpieces - our community was never so enthusiastic. Egos were forgotten, disagreements faded, because we had purpose. We had unity. We were making a difference because we were needed and each of us had something to contribute. Big Al made you feel important. His ability to see an individual's strength made him special - but more than that - he made each person recognize their own strengths. Our first AIDS benefit was an exceptional success. Having raised over $52,000, our valley had produced the second largest AIDS benefit at the time. Due to the fact that our valley had not been touched by the epidemic, we were proud to donate all of the proceeds to the Los Angeles AIDS Project. Each of us shared in the warmth of being a part of Big Al's desert family.
Big Al has had a profound influence on the entertainment industry. The countless number of shows he produced throughout the country only reflect his unique character, personality, love and warmth he radiated. With the sudden death of Big Al on September 22 our community has lost not only a great man but a dear and loving member of our family. We are saddened by his passing. Our community has been blessed by the time he was able to be with us, and the memories that we shared with Big Al will always be special. Farewell my friend.
The following editorial appeared in our April 1, 1994 edition
In Loving Memory of Humanitarian
The passing of Steve Chase this week has left the desert community an incomparable legacy that will live forever. Through his generosity and community involvement, our valley has been the beneficiary of his numerous philanthropic endeavors. Designing the McCallum Theater's interior, donating his private art and sculpture collection to the Palm Springs Desert Museum, his $1.5 million contribution to the museum to build the third floor, his financial support to the Desert AIDS Project and The Living Desert, major contributor and sponsor of the Palm Springs International Film Festival as well as a number of charities - each speak witness to the unique love and concern Steve Chase held in his soul.
Known internationally as one of the top interior designers in the world, Steve has been honored by his peers including: Designer of the Year in 1988; induction in the International Design Magazine's Hall of Fame in 1987; as well as being named one of the top 100 designers in 1990. His style and technique earned him accolades for his unmatched creativity and vision.
In February of this year, the Desert Business Association, at their annual Awards Dinner, honored Steve Chase for his distinctive service in the betterment of relations in the Coachella Valley in his inimitable manner, he had earned the honor and esteem of countless individuals and organizations. His memory will live in our hearts as a man who truly embodied the love and respect for all humanity.
The following editorial appeared in our May 27, 1994 edition
With the death of Gary Ray, the residents of Cathedral City and Coachella valley have lost one of the most intelligent, honest and talented men in the valley. Gary was elected to the Cathedral City Council a little over a year ago. Right from the start of his campaign, he stood head and shoulders above all of the other candidates because of his civic pride and dedication to his commitments. In fact, the community support he received represented every portion of the community.
Gary served Cathedral City through his energy and love with positive results. Before taking office in 1992, Gary was on the Planning Commission, served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, vice president of the Senior Center board, and held director positions with the Desert Business Association and the AIDS Assistance Program. He with fellow councilman Velasquez were instrumental in finding state funds to build the Cathedral City library. As one Desert Sun article stated, "Gary Ray is the new library." He truly was an outstanding and outgoing individual, and will always be remembered for his charm, wit, and integrity. To Gary's family and to Rob Rice, we extend our condolences on his passing. Each person shares in their loss, for we have a lost a man of vision, purpose, and dedication whose heart was bigger than the Coachella Valley and his legacy will stand the test of time. He has been a model of community pride, and his passing leaves a void in Cathedral City leadership.
MY LOST MENTORS & FRIENDS
APRIL 25, 1997
My editorial at the passing of 3 mentors: Allen Ginsberg; Bob Canon & Marv Liebman
Last a Lifetime
Each of us have own mentors - those man and women who through their words, actions and deeds have impressed us with their insight, wisdom, and strength. Once a person touches my soul, I know that they will be a part of me forever. Time, distance and death cannot destroy the lessons they taught me nor the guidance and counseling they so freely gave to me. During the last few weeks I have seen three of my mentors pass away. Each of them offered: the advice; the understanding; the encouragement during different stages of my life.
As a young man questioning his sexuality, I yearned for role models - mentors who would be able to affirm and validate my feelings and emotions - and help me find the courage to be true to myself. The poetry of Allen Ginsberg and other poets of the 50's & 60's offered me answers. Ginsberg was raw - bold - and better yet - censored. That was enough to tell me that there were other people out in the world who had experienced those same feelings - and they too, had been perplexed, puzzled - but they survived. No matter how many people would tell me that homosexuality was wrong - I knew better! Allen Ginsberg couldn't be wrong - he helped to broaden the sight lines on human sexuality - and instructed me to find the courage to be different.
When my partner and I purchased this publication some 16 years ago, I met a kind and sensitive man. His name was Bob Canon. His quick wit, the twinkle in his eyes, that coy smile were endearing to me. Bob had been the dean at Reed College. We both had teaching in our blood. The encouragement he gave me over the years have helped guide the evolution of the magazine you hold in your hands today. He offered advice and suggestions that I took to heart - and I learned. To Walker Richardson I offer my deepest sympathy in Bob's passing.
This past summer I had the opportunity to meet Marvin Liebman while I was in Washington, D.C. and was impressed with his quiet wisdom, his courage of beliefs and his strength of character. Through his column "Independently Speaking" I had learned much about the man and our meeting only deepened my opinion of him. While working in the Republican Party, he rose to a level of importance that gave him access to the Reagan White House. He was a conservative in a political party that was becoming more intolerant and yet he risked everything when he announced that he was gay.
Life is a wonderful procession of experiences and adventures. And, my journey has been blessed with the encouragement that these three individuals have given me - and for that I will always be sincerely thankful to them for having touched my life.
- EDITOR'S NOTE -
Bob Canon & Walker Richardson owned the Warm Sands Resort, Hacienda en Sueno during the 1980s & into the mid 90's. Bob was instrumental in choreographing the Marion Anderson concert at Lincoln Memorial with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1939 when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused the world renown singer to perform at their Constitutional Hall.
Marvin Liebman penned "Independently Speaking" he sent his last guest editorial to us the very night he passed away! He never missed a deadline!
ACTIVIST, HISTORIAN & PUBLISHER
JANUARY 19, 1996
This editorial appeared honoring
My Mentor & Friend
As San Francisco Supervisor Angela Alioto stated, "Paul was a true San Franciscan and one of the most energetic and active people that I've met in my life. He was a persistent and tireless advocate for veterans rights." Hardman, a World War II Navy veteran, had a memorable battle more than a decade ago with the conservative American Legion over the formation of the Alexander Hamilton Post of the organization, serving gay and lesbian veterans.
"At first the local legion was delighted that all these young man and women wanted to establish a post - but then they found out just exactly what kind of men and women we were," laughed Bud Robbins. The American Legion tried to delay the start-up of the post, by conveniently losing the group's charter paperwork and the discharge histories of applicant members. Finally, after Hardman and other members threatened a discrimination lawsuit, the national relented and the Alexander Hamilton Post was formed.
Hardman who had a doctorate in history was the author of a historical book on homoeroticism in military affairs. He also was the publisher of "The Voice," a publication that served the gay and lesbian community in the San Francisco Bay area.
Paul Hardman passed away on January 6th. As the gay and lesbian veteran's affairs activist, historian, publisher and my very dear friend and mentor, we will always remember his dedication, determination and tireless efforts for human rights for all individuals.