Welcome, 2021: Local leaders, business owners and community members look forward to change in 2021

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"A.J." Holly Huth is Las Vegas Spectrum's 2021 up-and-coming leader

The Spectrum will be going into our third year in 2021. Like everyone else, we’ve had a tough year. We’ve struggled to get the magazine published. We succeeded most months. In 2021 our plan is to publish bi-monthly and to focus on our digital presence. Watch for Publisher Rob Schlegel to debut his Rob’s Spectrum View in January. You will be able to find this weekly news commentary on YouTube. Just look for Las Vegas Spectrum.

Our first issue was published on New Year’s Day 2018. We choose an up-andcoming leader in our community and had our photographer Tonya Harvey photograph them in her studio. We surrounded that image with photos of our seasoned community leaders and had them give us quotes on what they predicted for 2021.

This year, so much has happened we had to change that tradition a bit. (What hasn’t changed this year, right?).

In any case, our up and coming community leader for 2021 is “A.J.” Holly Huth. Huth is the youth services manager and PrEP coordinator at The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada. She facilitates QVolution and special projects like Youth Thanksgiving and Youth Prom as well as co-facilitating Pivot. In addition to those duties, she also teaches comprehensive sex education at The Center and at other partnering facilities. Huth is a graduate of the 2020 Emerge Program.

“I believe that 2021 will provide renewed hope to the LGBTQ+ community. With a new year comes a new administration at the highest levels of government. This new administration is poised to be one of the most diverse and skilled collaborations of people this country has ever seen. When over 220 LGBTQ+ candidates win elections throughout the country, it shows that our nation is moving in the right direction toward equality. We also have had big wins in Nevada with a bill that will require ALL medical professionals to receive diversity and equity training. Many of the trainers will be members of the LGBTQ+ community. This will not only lead to better treatment of our siblings in hospitals and medical facilities, but also help have a positive impact on their financial health. We also are looking forward to bills focusing on HIV modernization, third parent adoption, bathroom access, gender affirming specific health insurance coverage, etc.

“We have so much to look forward to in 2021 and I am hopeful that we will achieve everything we hope for, including defeating the coronavirus and being able to gather together again.”

We talked to several other community leaders about their thoughts on 2021 and here is what they had to say:

I think the year ahead will bring new opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community in Las Vegas. Learning to adjust to the changes that 2020 brought allowed us to find new ways to be creative while still finding opportunities to connect with one another.► Michael “Mikey” Abante Associate Board Chairperson, The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada 

With many unforgotten lessons from a year like 2020, we can expect our LGBTQ+ community to continue our strong unity with one another in Las Vegas. The strong spirit we have in our community, LOVE, will continue to purposely guide us, for positive change, in the year 2021. In 2021, the Las Vegas LGBTQ+ community will be living in love. ► Jeffrey Alvarez HIV Peer Advocate, The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada 

2021 is filled with hope and possibilities of a better future for our LGBTQ community. It is a great awakening and realization that we do count and that we can make a big difference and involvement is key. Get involved with creating housing at our safety dorm at Salvation Army and now our great Bright Start housing. Do not be afraid to be who you are and live your live with pride; and live your life to help others. The joy of giving makes it all worthwhile. ► Judy Bowen, Trans Pioneer

The coming year, 2021, already augurs hope. Certainly, in my lifetime, there has not been as tumultuous a year as the current one, 2020. Fortunately, a worldwide pandemic is an extremely rare occurrence. Unfortunately, for us in the United States, the intrinsic horrors of this pandemic were magnified multiple times by a president whose only concern has been himself.

The most prestigious medical journal in the United States, and one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world is The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). It is a staid, stodgy, conservative periodical that focuses only on the most indisputable scientific discoveries. The New England Journal of Medicine began its life in 1812 and has published continuously for over 200 years. In its entire history, the journal has never taken a political stand — until this year. In an editorial letter this year, the NEJM condemned the lack of response to the COVID pandemic by the Trump administration. To quote that letter, “This crisis has produced a test of leadership…in the United States, our leaders have failed the test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy [my emphasis].”

Also, unfortunately, the same president that turned the crisis of the COVID pandemic into a tragedy had the opportunity to appoint three conservative Supreme Court justices. Since 1969, Republican presidents have appointed 15 supreme court justices. Democrat presidents have only appointed four, yet until this year, the Supreme Court was viewed as moderately center-right until now. Today, we have what most legal scholars consider to be a conservative Supreme Court. Two of the Supreme Court justices, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito have already bemoaned the effects of marriage equality and sent signals that they are willing to hear cases which would limit the effect of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

How much hope we might have in 2021 is very dependent upon the upcoming election for senators in Georgia. If the two Democrats win, then the Senate will be split 50-50 with the Democrats in charge because of Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote. If even one of the Republicans wins, then Mitch McConnell will, once again, be in charge, and we know what that means — nothing will change nor get done.

But there is Harris! What an incredible inspiration for all of us! For me, Sen. Harris’s election to vice president was the highlight of this election season. Her election rekindled my most idealistic hopes and dreams for our country and for this planet. She personifies hope and progress. We had an openly gay candidate for president, who is now the secretary of transportation designee. Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride will be the highest ranking openly trans legislator ever elected in the United States. And, on Jan. 20 at noon (EST), Donald Trump will no longer be the president of the United States. We have many reasons to celebrate and hope.

In the overall scheme of things, we are moving slowly forward. I see no reason not to believe that 2021 will be an incredible year for the LGBTQ community, for the country, and for the world. ► Dr. Jerry Cade AIDS medicine pioneer

I’ve been out and about for the last few days and have noticed that the clubs here in Las Vegas are not ALL following the rules as for COVID-19 restrictions. I know that bending the rules is a necessary evil, just to make a buck and keep your club open. I’ve been giving advice (solicited or not) to friends “Do NOT try and open a club or restaurant DURING A PANDEMIC!!!” I HIGHLY advise against it!! Ha ha, right?

As you know when we started getting ready to open Jimmy’s at Madisons, almost two years ago there was no inkling of a pandemic on the horizon. We moved forward with major renovations and code updates that took MUCH longer than we ever expected. But we always had the knowledge that it would be worth it in the long run. Then, of course, here is the virus. We remain open with hope in our hearts that this will pass. I have always been a very optimistic person, and so is my partner, Jim Lash. Our staff and management, especially Manager Tisa Romero, have been very supportive and have worked overtime to see that our dream of a show bar and neighborhood bar would come true. My hope for 2021 is that with new leadership and renewed faith in our top elected officials, that life will return to normal by this summer. If we all stick together and follow the rules, all of us can benefit from a much better year in 2021. ► Jimmy Emerson, longtime Las Vegas entertainer and bar owner

I have high hopes for all of us in the LGBTQ community for 2021. Under the Democratic Biden/ Harris administration we will see inclusion at higher levels of government than ever before. The more visible we become, the more likely we are to achieve progress.  ► Michelle Gack Lesbian political activist

My quote would be from Audre Lorde:

“We are powerful because we have survived.” That is what I’m hoping for. That we survive this like many other obstacles we’ve faced.    ► Vanessa Gotti, client services and Advocacy manager, The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada

I think we can all agree 2020 was A LOT! It can take time to gain perspective, especially when trauma is involved. But, I know this, I look forward to brighter days ahead for our community. We have once again shown our resilience and compassion in some of our most challenging times. That gives me hope for our future. ► Joslyn Hatfield, director, editor, PRIDE Magazine; director, Vegas Women’s Fest

2020 has been a very interesting year for our community as my husband and I enjoy gathering with our LGBTQ family at our home, which has not happened since February. 2021 will bring so much joy and happiness to our community as we hopefully begin to reconnect with our friends and provide support to one another in ways we couldn’t during the pandemic. In all, I think that 2021 will mean reconnecting and providing much needed support to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. ► Julio and Will Jimenez-Wenz Community members

This holiday season was not about asking for things I want but instead being grateful for what I have. This New Year’s Eve, instead of a resolution, I’d like to make a wish that 2020 may have been the year of perfect vision and we all got to see how bad things could get, but 2021 will be the year that we learn how to fix them. ► Frank Marino Las Vegas legendary Diva

As I look ahead to 2021, I am so optimistic for our local LGBT+ community and I am so proud to have seen strength and perseverance as we all made it through this very difficult past year. Our community functions very much like a big extended family, and I have been proud to see the community coming together to support those of us in need with help, love and support! I hope to continue our community sharing information about jobs, donations and resources online. Please feel free to tag Las Vegas PRIDE on Facebook to share. We hope to be able to restart safe gatherings soon and to be able to safely celebrate Las Vegas PRIDE 2021 in October with many happy reunions and a fabulous celebration of and for our community! ► Brady McGill President, Las Vegas Pride

I believe 2021 will be a great year for the LGBTQ+ community! We’ll have a new president in the White House and an administration that will act favorably on LGBTQ+ issues. It also will be a challenging year as we work hard to reverse the losses we sustained over the last four years! ► Former Nevada State Senator David Parks

We’ve had a rough couple of years for our community. Though we’ve reached milestones and transcended obstacles, we also faced a lot of adversity, and challenges. Many of those challenges came from the out-going administration. In 2021, I see a new hope. We have a lot of bright spots to look forward to. The former vice president who aided us in the right to get married is now going to be our president. Our incoming vice president is a staunch supporter of our community.

We faced the military trans-ban, regulations that impede us from adoption, regulations that targeted us, all in the last four years. This year alone was pretty tough. We’ve been in this perpetual chaos, a darkness amplified by the current administration. But now? In 2021? We’re moving forward, with the persistence and vitality of knowing the year we just had. I see 2021 as the year of light, new beginnings, and new awakenings. It’s a transcendence into a more joyous, empathetic and individual freedom. ► Nevada State Sen. Pat Spearman

In 2021, we will finally have Trump-free days when our thoughts, conversations and nervous systems will not be littered by incoherent rage from a cruel orange child and his equally ridiculous narcissistic offspring. That a famously failed businessman, presented as a success through the smoke and mirrors of reality TV, would be a great idea for president was not even as horrifying as his racism and misogyny.

No longer will this corrupt stain of a family determine our lives and futures. No longer will it matter when they insult Americans and the world. They’ll have a voice, but it will not be from the balconies of the White House. Instead, we will have an intelligent, compassionate president, a woman of color for vice president and diversity in cabinet members in staff who will be representing all Americans.

In jobs, we have finally transitioned to working from home, which will remain an option for many who choose to do so (or have jobs that allow it) now that working remotely proved itself a viable option for the better part of the year. Eventually, at some point, we will congregate again. ► Kristen Peterson, Las Vegas writer and artist

While 2020 was the most challenging year in modern history because of the COVID-19 pandemic that changed everything about our lives, the LGBTQ+ community in Nevada had reason to celebrate. The election of pro-equality leaders up and down the ballot, starting with Biden-Harris, will help to ensure full-lived equality for all Nevadans. And the passage of Ballot Question 2, which amends Nevada’s state constitution to recognize all marriages, regardless of gender, forever enshrines the principles of marriage equality. As we look to 2021, the LGBTQ+ community is laser-focused on HIV Modernization by updating our state’s antiquated laws that criminalize otherwise legal behavior or increase penalties for criminal behavior based on a person’s status. Unfortunately, Nevada’s laws are outdated because they do not accurately reflect modern science, which has greatly decreased the risk of transmission through proven drugs and treatments; they are ineffective because they can discourage testing; and they are discriminatory because they disproportionately impact certain communities who are more likely to be impacted by the virus. HIV is a public health issue, not a criminal issue. Our laws should reflect that. ► André C. Wade, State Director, Silver State Equality

In 2021, we will be held accountable for all we talked about doing in the diversity, equity and inclusion space. Our willingness to speak up in 2020 should be strengthened by our actions in 2021. While we fought a common enemy (COVID-19) in 2020, it also expanded our understanding of societal inequities that must be addressed. We will be challenged with finding our way back to safe, in-person social connections, while helping people recover from the weight of all we’ve been through. The physical and emotional remedial needs are significant in our community. It will be a year where compassion and kindness will be at the heart of what heals us. ► John Waldron CEO, The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada

2021 will be what we make of it: to continue 2020’s legacy of death and destruction or rise like the Phoenix from the ashes. If we want the latter, we must continue safe distancing, wear masks in public and crowded areas, and get the vaccine when available. We might not convince the entire nation, but we, as LGBTQIAA, will remain strong by doing our part so we can enjoy what we had prior to the pandemic. ► Victor Wong, DO

As a 30-year-old, Confucius taught me that one should developed their own sets of views of the world, life and values. For me, 2021 is the year that I start to set myself free and truly living it. I want to tell everyone:“不困于心, 不困于情,不念于去,不畏未来.”in English it means, don’t be trapped within your heart and mind, don’t dwell on the past, don’t be afraid of tomorrow. Everything will be just all right. ► Kangcheng Yin Vegas business owner; The Center Board; Southern Nevada Asian Pacific Islander Queer Society board