Cover Story

The Center’s LGBTQ+ Luminaries Lunch: The Inaugural Luminaries

By JP Emerson

In the continued pursuit from the Center to celebrate the amazing people who use their voices to light the path of safety, wellness, togetherness and joy in our community they have created the Luminaries Lunch taking place Thursday June 27 at 11:30am at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. 

We will celebrate these Luminaries for their resilience, advocacy, and vision in creating a better world for our LGBTQ+ community, whether at the forefront of our movement or behind the scenes. We spoke with the Luminaries to get to know more about their stories. Click on the image

Chris Shaw: An Architect of Community

As the founder of the Mo’s Universe bar and restaurant empire, Chris Shaw has created more than social hubs; he’s crafted sanctuaries for our LGBTQ+ community and developed diverse leaders within his enterprise who are now business partners. His establishments welcome everyone, from our LGBTQ+ family to allies and curious tourists. Chris’s philanthropic support to LGBTQ+ organizations and events over the decades never wavers. In response to community issues like the AIDS crisis, the ban of LGBTQ+ people in the military, Prop 8, and more, Chris has shown up time and again without hesitation. He is a visionary who has carved out vibrant spaces for LGBTQ+ people and established our enduring presence in San Diego. His light radiates from the heart of Hillcrest, reflecting the brilliance of the LGBTQ+ community and inviting all to take refuge in its warmth.

Tracie Jada O’Brien: A Trailblazer in Community Empowerment

Tracie Jada O’Brien is a force of nature, shifting the LGBTQ+ landscape through her resilience, courage, and compassion. As a Black transgender activist, she stands at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, drawing strength and vision from the opposition she has faced and transforming it into action. Tracie is a determined leader who for decades has paved the way for so many through her work in the healthcare and recovery communities. Guided by her lived experience, she has helped countless LGBTQ+ San Diegans. Tracie founded the San Diego Transgender Day of Empowerment, a day when our community gathers to celebrate our trans siblings, honor their struggles, and amplify their voices. Her light pierces through the darkness of discrimination and attacks on our LGBTQ+ family, reminding us that there is power in visibility, community, and reinventing through our struggles.

Librarians of San Diego: Allies in Advocacy

The Librarians of San Diego, including members of our LGBTQ+ community and allies, are champions of diversity and representation. Their commitment to inclusivity, even in the face of vitriolic opposition, has transformed our libraries into safe havens for LGBTQ+ youth and adults alike. By finding books and authors that reflect our community and featuring them in book displays throughout the year, as well as hosting drag queen story times, these librarians have demonstrated the powerful role community plays in protecting LGBTQ+ identities and creating spaces of belonging. Because of their unyielding advocacy, they have been on the frontlines of anti-LGBTQ protests, and have stood their ground resolutely. The librarians of San Diego are tenacious allies, carrying the torch of LGBTQ+ liberation toward a future where we are seen, heard, and celebrated.