2015 was quite a year for San Diego’s LGBT community: a year of victory, mourning, and some all around weirdness. Check out our picks for top 10 local news stories from the year past below. The stories are listed in chronological order.
1. Local community activist Tim Caudill was stabbed at local bar The San Diego Eagle in late February. The 28-year-old Caudill, who says he is a Marine Corps veteran, said his attacker "came out of nowhere" and became verbally aggressive with him and his friends. Suddenly, the man took out a knife in the altercation.
Community members rallied around Caudill who insisted that he not be called a “hero,” rather he simply wants the community to begin discussion issues that have been swept around the rug.
“We have a lot of issues in our community that need to be addressed. … The biggest problem is that we lost a whole generation of gay men because of the AIDS crisis. We don’t have a lot of elder leaders to look up to. So many people of the younger generation has turned to alcohol and drugs because they don’t have good role models,” he told SDGLN.
2. On April 7, the San Diego City Council approved an amendment to add gender identity and expression as types of unlawful discrimination to the city’s Nondiscrimination and Contracting Ordinance. As a city that has made great strides over the past few decades to be supportive of the LGBTQ community, this was an important step for the city in recognizing all individuals that fit into different parts of the LGBTQ spectrum. In 2014, the City of San Diego had been dinged two points on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipality Equality Index for not having this provision, so the addition of this brought San Diego to a perfect score.
3. A house on El Cajon Blvd. that had strong historic roots to the local LGBT community was destroyed without warning in late May. Just one day after an updated nomination for the National Register of Historic places was received in Sacramento, the historic Bernie Michels-Thom Carey house was abruptly demolished. Representatives from Lambda Archives say the house was a place where many honored LGBT leaders visited to organize and plan for the incorporation of what is now known as the San Diego LGBT Community Center.
4. A story that generated a lot of discussion throughout the community in 2014 carried over into 2015 when a six-month jail sentence was handed down to Thomas Miguel Guerra, who was accused of willfully spreading HIV to his partner, who allegedly wasn’t aware of Guerra’s positive status. The story led to much conversation and debate about the issue of HIV-criminalization.
5. Marriage equality became the law of the land on Friday, June 26 when the Supreme Court announced that the Constitution does not permit states to prohibit against same-sex marriage, and they must recognize that marriages performed in other states are valid nationwide. The community was ready to celebrate following the announcement, and the San Diego LGBT Community Center hosted a huge party that evening, with some estimates saying over 5,000 crammed into the building’s auditorium and street outside. Local bars were packed to the brim with joyful community members celebrating that night as well.
6. The 2015 San Diego Pride celebration is definitely one for the record books! For the first time in decades, the San Diego Pride Parade was rained on. Not just a light sprinkle, but a torrential downpour! The parade went on with marchers soaked but still smiling. It rained most of the weekend as well, but that didn’t stop the festivities from continuing.
7. A cannabis dispensary opened above long-time 12-step program meeting hall, the Live and Let Live Alano Club. This caused quite an uproar in San Diego’s recovery community, as participants at the Alano Club would frequently smell the scent of marijuana wafting into the space, and pot dispensary customers accidently entering the recovery space.
8. The San Diego LGBT community was shaken to its core this year as four local transgender teenagers died by suicide. A gender-nonconforming teenager named Sage died in early March; Taylor Alesana, a 16-year old transgender girl, died April 2; Kyler Prescott, a 14-year old transgender boy, died May 18; and Emmett Castle, a 14-year-old transgender boy died in October. Conversations continue throughout the community on how to better support our LGBTQ youth.
9. The community was shocked in October to learn of the suicide death of well-known community activist Kurt Cunningham at the age of 46. Cunningham, who had once been an Empress of the Imperial Court de San Diego and longtime volunteer at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, had recently begun work at Mental Health America San Diego doing mental health outreach to the LGBTQ community. Memories and tributes to Cunningham's life were all over social media for weeks, and hundreds of people attended a celebration of life at The Center on Nov. 1.
10. An LGBTQ-affirming senior housing project that had been in the works for over a decade was approved by the San Diego City Council in early December. The project will include 76-units in a development to be built in North Park by 2017. Community Housing Works will develop the project, with the San Diego LGBT Community Center working alongside to provide services to the residents of the complex.
Take a look back at all of the other stories from 2015 HERE.