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The San Diego LGBT Community Center's Sapphire Gala :: Celebrating 45 Years of Hope

by Joel Martens

Rage Monthly

Sunday October 15, 2017

All that glitters is not always gold, but when it comes to the LGBT Center's Sapphire Gala you can bet this charity event will shine brilliantly. Enjoying the fun and camaraderie of our San Diego community as you help to raise funds for the Center. Help to honor those men and women who paved the LGBT rights road and those who benefit from the accomplishments and services of The San Diego LGBT Community Center.

The Rage Monthly spoke with Development Director Ian Johnson about this important gala, to be held at the stunning Hotel del Coronado.

This year is a major marker looking back and honoring the 45th anniversary of "serving hope" to the countless people who utilize The Center every day. Johnson agreed, "We're very excited that quite a few of The Center's founders and early supporters will be present and we're honored to be able to recognize them for all that they've done for the LGBT community. San Diego is comprised of a lot of transplants and folks who don't know much of our history. I hope that everyone who attends feels inspired and thankful for all those who paved the way and made it possible for us to get to where we are today. Also, as many know, after 16 years of leadership, this will be the last gala that Dr. Delores Jacobs will be with The Center as CEO. Dr. Jacobs is The Center's longest serving CEO in 45 years. That's a big deal! It should be a pretty inspiring evening for everyone."

With this special milestone, Johnson shared the importance of holding the event at the Hotel del Coronado, a place pivotal to San Diego and a centerpiece for enjoying the magic and the memories of accomplishment. "I've worked with the Hotel Del over the past couple of years and the experience has been amazing. It's a legendary hotel with a lot of history, a beautiful location and a workplace that supports diversity. That makes it a great place to celebrate our community history." In addition, Ian added, "Holding our gala every five years makes it a really special occasion and gives us a chance to look back to reflect on the progress both The Center and the LGBT community have made. It also raises funds to support the dozens of critical community programs and services The Center provides."

Along with the responsibilities of making this Sapphire Gala sparkle, come the stories of The Center's history and the LGBT people who utilize their services. Johnson shared a few memories. "There are so many stories. All of us fortunate enough to work at The Center, get to see people's donations making a real impact in the lives of the clients we serve. My first interaction with The Center was back in the '90s, when it was located at the corner of Normal Street and what is now Harvey Milk Street. I was a very young gay boy going in for my first HIV test in SD. I'm from a conservative city in LA/ Orange County and being gay wasn't something really talked about. I was amazed that there was an actual building that provided services for LGBT individuals. I also remember discovering that the city council had an out lesbian, Chris Kehoe, and being completely blown way. I know that many who walk through our doors for the first time feel exactly the same way for a variety of reasons."

The remarkable history of San Diego's LGBT Center is fascinating and important to all of us. Ian Johnson shared his enthusiasm. "When you walk into our auditorium and see the Wall of Honor recognizing pioneers of our San Diego LGBT community, or the LGBT Veterans wall, there's a sense of amazement at the strength and history of our community. I never would have thought, 23 years ago, when I walked through The Center's doors for the first time, I would be at a gala celebrating 45 years of changing lives. Just as it was 45 years ago, The Center today really is at the heart of the San Diego LGBT community."

The San Diego LGBT Community Center's Sapphire Gala takes place on Saturday, October 21 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Hotel del Coronado located at 1500 Orange Ave. in Coronado. For tickets and more information, go to

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