🌈 SaMo PRIDE: Get to Know Kathleen Rawson, Leo Garcia and Brandy/Emily

June 16, 2019
by Christopher J. Smith

🌈  SaMo PRIDE: Get to Know Kathleen Rawson, Leo Garcia and Brandy/Emily

In honor of Pride Month, we are celebrating the diversity of our community by asking different members of the LGBTQA community to share their story, ideas and perspective on Santa Monica. 

These bios originally appeared in the June edition of Seascape

Kathleen Rawson

CEO, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. 

1) How do you identify?

I came out as a lesbian in my early 20s, during my last years of college. I grew up in a small, central Minnesota town and the LGBTQ+ community was very invisible. I didn’t even tell my family until I moved to California.

2)What else can we do to make our City welcoming for LGBTQ people? 

As you can imagine, it was a significant change from Minnesota. Not only was I in a new town, just out of college and trying to find my way, I was also involved in my first real romantic relationship where I was living with someone, sharing our lives together as a couple. I remember those early days walking down the boardwalk, holding hands and there were plenty of times where that felt unsafe. So you stop holding hands. It was 1988, and I wouldn’t say I was overly comfortable, but certainly more so than in Minnesota. There were plenty of times when we had a conversation at work and the gender of the person I was living with was omitted. I was concerned about how my co-workers would react. People could be hostile. It wasn’t safe. Now, it’s completely different. When my partner and I decided to have our first child, we had no choice but to be true to ourselves and who we are as a couple. It was a conscious decision and the right one. For every job, every scenario, I was definitely out. And, generally speaking, people have always been very open and accepting. It has changed dramatically, as the world has changed. But Santa Monica has always been more accepting than other places I have lived.

Leo Garcia

Executive Director, Highway Performance Space and resident

1) How do you identify? 
As a gay Latino man.

2) What brought you to Santa Monica?
I feel that in 1991 Santa Monica was a forgotten beach community and so it was perfect. The promenade was manageable in terms of traffic and shopping and community. Now, I’m concerned about its growth and how that growth is changing Santa Monica. I prefer to be positive about Santa Monica and there are many conversations that can take place about growth, diversity, affordability and all that is important to me.

3) What’s your experience in Santa Monica, and how has it changed since you arrived? 
I was a multi-hyphened artist who settled here. I was bi-coastal between NYC and Santa Monica for about four or five years, until I stayed here longer than I stayed in NYC. Travel became very complicated and so did the bicoastal life. I chose to stay in one place for a while and Santa Monica was that place. There’s no place I’d rather be.

4)What else can we do to make our City welcoming for LGBTQ people? 
Though Santa Monica is generally gay-friendly, I don’t think anyone thinks of Santa Monica as a place for LGBTQ people to connect. It’s a seemingly liberal California beach community and I believe LGBTQ people, like all people, enjoy the beach and the climate, so like all others, they find there way here to enjoy the city. I’ve no doubt that there are families with gay children here. I know there are LGBTQ home and business owners and renters, but I don’t think of Santa Monica as a gay enclave. SamoPride is a great step forward to make our City welcoming for LGBTQ people.

Brandy & Emily 


1) How do you identify?
She / Her / Hers

2)What else can we do to make our City welcoming for LGBTQ people? 
Coming from San Francisco, the lack of Santa Monica queer-friendly venues, bars and events was surprising. We hope the addition of this Pride event, and the Birdcage will help encourage more of an LGBTQ community

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