Community Grand Marshal
Celebrity Grand Marshal
Organization of the Year
Volunteer of the Year
Other celebrity participants:
Palm Springs Pride honors the
Golden Rainbow Center – SAGE as its 2011 Organization of the Year. The award is bestowed upon an organization that has made significant contributions to the LGBT community.
It is estimated that by 2030, one in five Americans will be age 65 or older and that roughly four million of these will be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It is also estimated that ninety-six percent of America’s social service and care-giving agencies offer no services specifically designed for LGBT seniors. Several studies among healthcare administrators document widespread homophobia among those entrusted with the care of America’s seniors. Most LGBT elders do not avail themselves of services on which other seniors thrive and many retreat back into the closet, reinforcing isolation.
Our community is blessed with The Golden Rainbow Center – SAGE, which is recognized as a model for providing resources to empower and enhance the quality of life for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender older adults. It exists to encourage health, wellness and social programs in a safe, welcoming, vibrant environment and to project a positive image of the LGBT older adult community.
The Center originated in late 2000, when an individual created via a bequest, The Prime Timers of the Desert Foundation. Through initial funding, the Foundation created the Golden Rainbow Senior Center as a social facility for gay seniors. In May 2011, the Golden Rainbow Center joined forces with SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), the oldest and largest organization serving and advocating for GLBT elders.
The Center serves an area including Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, High Desert Cities, Indian Wells, Inland Empire, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage.
The Center provides GLBT seniors numerous opportunities for social and educational activities along with fitness and wellness programs.
The Golden Rainbow Center – SAGE is located at 700 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite F, in Palm Springs. For more information on the center, visit their website at www.grcps.org, or call 760-416-7790.
Greater Palm Springs Pride is pleased to recognize the achievements and value to our community of The Golden Rainbow Center – SAGE as Pride’s Organization of the Year.
The 2011 Palm Springs Pride Award for Volunteer of the Year goes to an individual and a couple in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the betterment of our community through their volunteer efforts.
Greater Palm Springs Pride salutes Rick Saputo, Barbara Barrett and Sharon Doty as the 2011 Volunteer of the Year.
Barbara Barrett and Sharon Doty
“I believe that no matter what is happening in your life there is always some way that you can give back to your community. Volunteering enriches my life and gives me purpose.” – Barbara Barrett
“I volunteer because I truly believe giving back is paying back. My life has been one of fun, love, family and great friends, all priceless gifts. I get great joy from every volunteer hour I give. I am the lucky one.” – Sharon Doty
Greater Palm Springs Pride is honored to name Barbara Barrett and Sharon Doty as Pride’s Volunteers of the Year in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the betterment of our community through their volunteer efforts.
Barbara’s journey started in the Bronx in New York City, then to San Francisco to the Russian River (Guerneville, CA) and then to Palm Springs—lots of miles, lots of love, lots of school, lots of work and lots of volunteering. She is an attorney who has practiced law in San Francisco, Sonoma County and for the past eight years, in Palm Springs. She has been pro bono legal counsel for The Pride Center and currently, The Golden Rainbow Center, where she also serves on their Advisory Counsel. She also served over four years on the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission and on the board of the Desert Business Association. She is the founding and current president of the Desert Women for Equality (DWE). She is most proud of founding the DWE’s “We Care” Free Mammogram Program which has paid for over 2,600 mammograms for the uninsured / underinsured women of the Coachella Valley. She credits the LGBT community for making the program a reality, “it was the LGBT community that made the “We Care” program work. The generosity (time and money) of our community is saving women’s lives.”
Barbara’s commitment to community service did not start here. She has volunteered on San Francisco’s Gay Legal Referral Panel, served five years as President of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce, served on two Sonoma County citizen’s advisory committees, engaged in fundraising for breast cancer and AIDS charities and served on the board of the American Red Cross.
Sharon Doty is retired after working 30 years in the medical field, with Home Care and hospitals as a respiratory therapist as well as a volunteer paramedic. She worked as the co-administrator of The Desert Pride Center for over four years. Currently, she serves as a state certified volunteer ombudsman for the Riverside County area, ensuring that the rights of residents of skilled nursing and residential care facilities are preserved and they are treated with dignity. She is actively involved in DWE’s free mammogram program and co-teaches the “Living with Chronic Illness” program at the Golden Rainbow Center, for which she also serves on the advisory board. Sharon provides free notary services for the Golden Rainbow Center and for clients of the Well in the Desert.
Barbara and Sharon’s work in the community is a vital part of their relationship. Sharon observed that “Volunteering sometimes puts pressure on a relationship when we have different ideas. The positive side is what I have learned about Barbara and who she really is, a caring and loving person, not just an attorney.” Barbara stated, “Sharon won my heart but more importantly she won my respect—her tireless efforts to make people’s lives better is greatly appreciated by everyone that she touches.”
“I try to make a positive impact on the lives of people I care about.” - Rick Saputo
Rick Saputo, publisher of the BottomLine and Pulp magazines, has worked tirelessly to support the movement of LGBT and human rights throughout our region. The list of organizations that Rick supports and works for encompasses a wide spectrum of community effort: Equality California (current board member), Desert AIDS Project (partners for life), AIDS Assistance Program (diamond sponsor), Inland Empire AIDS Project, Golden Rainbow Center, Well in the Desert, Human Rights Campaign (lifetime partner), Greater Palm Springs Pride, San Diego Pride, PSLOD, Mama’s Kitchen San Diego, The Center San Diego, Greater San Diego Business Association, Desert Business Association, Stepping Stone San Diego, Opera in the Park and The International Film Festival, to name a few.
Rick worked in the corporate world for seventeen years after graduating from college. He and Tim Beale, his current business partner, decided to move to Palm Springs in late 1989 and start a company. They bought The BottomLine and Pulp magazines. The BottomLine has been a desert staple for thirty years and Pulp is going on eleven years. The BottomLine and Pulp Magazines are also distributed in Rick’s second home town of San Diego. Rick’s Partner, Larry Hanson, has been a big supporter in all he does and helps EQCA on various committees. Rick’s immediate family is too large to mention, over thirty strong headed by his 85 year old mother. Rick is proud to say that they have all been very supportive.
In speaking of the most gratifying memories of his volunteer service to Equality California, Rick says, “There are gratifying moments that happen as we move forward just as there are setbacks. Most recently would be the Judge Vaughn Walker ruling. A huge step in the right direction. Listening to Jerry Brown’s support for our movement was also very inspiring.”
Greater Palm Springs Pride applauds Rick’s service to the community, leadership and volunteerism and takes pleasure in recognizing him as Pride’s Volunteer of the Year.
Greater Palm Springs Pride welcomes author, television writer, producer, performer, charity fundraiser, lecturer, plus stage and television director Wesley Eure as Pride’s 2011 Special Guest.
In 2008, Wesley created and directed the outrageous musical poolside fundraiser called LalaPOOLooza!! which raised funds for seven Palm Springs charities. The show featured over 85 performers and 100 volunteers. The Human Rights Commission of Palm Springs honored Wesley with a Human Rights Award and declared September 22, 2008 “LalaPOOLooza Day.” Wesley received his star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on May, 6th, 2007.
In 2009 Wesley was presented with the Bob Hoven Spirit Humanitarian Award. He was “Sainted” by the outrageous fundraisers, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, as Saint Run Run Holly Go Lightly…the name is a tribute to the classic line he yelled on Land Of The Lost….”Run Holly, run! There’s a dinosaur!” He was also nominated for Best Daytime Series actor from Radio-TV Mirror and Photoplay Awards. Wesley was also made “Lifetime Member” of The Desert Women For Equality’s Free Mobile Mammogram Program.
Wesley is a veteran television star of two major network series, Days of Our Lives and Land of the Lost, an author of five books, the co-creator of PBS’ number one show for preschoolers, Dragon Tales, and he hosted Nickelodeon’s game show, Finders Keepers. He co-produced, wrote and acted in FOX Television’s hidden camera shows Totally Hidden Video and Payback. He also wrote and directed Spy TV for NBC.
For many years Wesley was the top fundraiser for the “March of Dimes.” He was one of the most sought-after hosts for telethons and fund raising campaigns. In 2007 Wesley hosted a fundraiser for The Palm Spring’s Pride Center called “Wesley’s Wild and Wacky Game Night.” Wesley also was involved with the founding of “Project Angel Food”, a non-profit organization that feeds homebound A.I.D.S. patients in Los Angeles.
Wesley is co-producing, with his production company (Cardboard Belt Productions), a new Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pipin) musical titled Snapshots . Currently Wesley is the Travel editor and columnist for LIVE Magazine in Palm Springs.
Michele Cirone-Collier and José Sarria
Michele Cirone-Collier has worked with the Greater Palm Springs Pride Board for many years in her capacity as City of Palm Springs Special Events Coordinator/Military Liaison, and has personally helped coordinate the operations for the parade and festival. She has been involved personally with the parade’s growth from a small street parade near DeMuth Park to moving to downtown Palm Springs on Palm Canyon Drive and becoming one of the largest parades that is hosted in Palm Springs.
Michele recently retired from her post with the City of Palm Springs. During her 21 years of service to the community, she coordinated operations for all parades and events (city sponsored and non-city sponsored) held on public property in the City of Palm Springs. From car races to craft shows, from the parade of planes, to the Palm Springs Pride Parade, she was intrinsically involved in the coordination of all city services and related public agencies participating in the events. She was the lead coordinator for the City of Palm Springs Veterans Day Parade and also served on the coordinating committee for the one year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy that hit our nation. She is particularly proud of coordinating the annual Holiday Concert and helped the event grow from attracting approximately 900 people at the high school to over 3,000 at the Convention Center.
Prior to her service with the City of Palm Springs, Michele was with Loyola Marymount University coordinating commencements and facilities scheduling. She was also a high school teacher in the Los Angeles area.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, her family relocated to California in 1978 where she joined them after completing college in Tucson. She moved to the Coachella Valley almost 22 years ago and loves the desert. She has a wonderful husband, Jeff, two nieces and nephews, two step-children, and two grand-children. She is a culinary aficionado and enjoys cooking for others. In her newly retired mode she hopes to cook privately for those who no longer can or want to cook for themselves.
Speaking of her long relationship with Pride, she said: “The festival is top notch and its high caliber and quality is due to the tremendous hard work of the Pride Board.
The Palm Springs Pride Board has created such an outstanding quality event, by which other events in the valley now have to set their benchmarks quite high to be comparable.” Greater Palm Springs Pride is pleased to honor Michele Cirone-Collier as Community Grand Marshal in recognition of her long service to our community and enriching our lives.
Greater Palm Springs Pride honors José Sarria, LGBT rights activist and the founder of the International Imperial Court System, as Community Grand Marshal.
An early LGBT activist, Sarria co-founded several homophile organizations, including the League for Civil Education, the Tavern Guild and the Society for Individual Rights. Sarria became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States when he ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961. In 1964 Sarria declared himself “Empress José I, The Widow Norton” and founded the Imperial Court System, which grew to become an international association of charitable organizations.
In 1961 José did the heroic deed for which he is best known today: he filed as the first openly gay candidate in the world to run for public office, the position of a San Francisco city supervisor, the same political office won by Harvey Milk 16 years later. Although José did not win in 1961, he shocked both the city’s gay and straight communities by gathering a hefty 5,600 votes coming in 9th out of a field of 32 candidates. The realization that a gay voting bloc could wield considerable political clout in San Francisco is cited by a number of political strategists resulting from José’s impressive vote tally.
Crowned Queen of the Beaux Arts Ball in 1964 by the Tavern Guild, Sarria proclaimed himself “Her Royal Majesty, Empress of San Francisco, José I, The Widow Norton.” Sarria devised the name “Widow Norton” as a reference to the much-celebrated citizen of 19th century San Francisco, Joshua Norton, who had declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico in 1859. Sarria organized elaborate annual pilgrimages to lay flowers on Norton’s grave at a cemetery outside of San Francisco. He purchased a plot adjacent to Norton’s and plans to be interred there.
Sarria’s assumption of the title of Empress led to the establishment of the Imperial Court System, a network of non-profit charitable organizations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico that raise money for various beneficiaries. By the early 1970s, the Court system established by José had been franchised to first Vancouver, Canada, and then Portland. Over the next thirty years, individual courts answering to the Widow Norton have spread to nearly seventy areas (some based in cities while others cover whole states or provinces) in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Imperial Court of San Francisco along with the California courts raised thousands of dollars and was instrumental in defeating the Briggs Initiative in 1978. Today, the International Imperial Court System is the second largest gay and lesbian organization in the world – second only to the Metropolitan Community Church.
José continued to reign over the Courts for 43 years, before abdicating in 2007. For his lifetime of activism, the city of San Francisco renamed a section of 16th Street in Sarria’s honor. He resides today in Palm Springs.