Club Shine, which has been going strong for nine years now and is LA’s longest running transgender nightclub, hosted their 3rd annual Shine Transgender Community Awards on Saturday November 28th.
The Shine Transgender Community Awards was created by Laura Espinoza-Lunden and is the only awards event voted on by members of the transgender community. The event was hosted by Nikki Lunden and Laura Espinoza-Lunden who did an outstanding job making the event fun while at the same time conveying the appreciation we all felt towards the award winners for all they contribute to the community. The club was packed with a very enthusiastic crowd who were very vocal in expressing their love and gratitude to the award winners and everyone involved in this amazing event.
While this was only my second time at Club Shine it is already beginning to feel like home because of the amazing and dedicated people who run the club and all the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting there. The club is vibrant and full of energy yet has a homey feel to it. You can talk at the bar, go on the dance floor and strut your stuff or hang out in the back and play pool. Laura and Nikki are wonderful hosts who make sure everyone is having a good time, while Dennis Kennelly remains more behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly. The entire staff is friendly and welcoming and always have a smile.
The entertainment included dance numbers by Mon Cheré, Audry Cobra, Hailie Sahar, and Raquel Star, and these ladies know how to dance! If you haven’t seen these ladies perform you have definitely missed out on seeing something pretty special!
The award winners represented a unique and diverse group of people who are inspiring is so many ways; not only in what they’ve accomplished but it how they live their lives. They are all very deserving of their respective awards. Below is a brief summary of the award winners.
Person of the Year – Bamby Salcedo
Bamby spent eight dedicated years as the Health Education and HIV Prevention Services Coordinator at the nation’s largest and most experienced clinical program for trans youth. Her remarkable and wide-ranging activist work has brought voice and visibility to the trans community. She is the founder of the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@ Coalition, and in 2014 the documentary Transvisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story was released.
Community Activist Award – Karina Samala
Producer of the Queen USA and Queen of the Universe Transgender Beauty Pageants, Karina Samala has been an active member of the LGBT community for over twenty-five years, including being a member of the West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board. Ms. Samala has been actively involved in campaigning for the equality and human rights that should be afforded to transgendered individuals. She is a graduate of M.I.T. Philippines with a B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering.
Entertainer Award (Music) – Katrice Young
Katrice Young is a long-time performer at area nightclubs and is known for her beautiful voice and charming personality and the amazing performances she routinely belts out!
Entertainer Award (TV-Film) – Shelbe Chang
Shelbe Chang began her film making career in 2014 by writing, producing, directing and acting in her first feature indie film called, LGBT Love Stories. Her goal is to empower transgender voices and raise awareness on transgender lives both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Her 2016 upcoming collaboration includes two short films, “Diane from the Moon” as an Executive Producer, “Jimmy and Jamie” as Producer and a theater play, “Life’s A Bitch And So Am I” as Co-Producer.
Entertainer Award (Stage) – Audry Cobra
Audry Cobra is a performer and the Show Director at Club Cobra, another of the area’s popular nightclubs. She’s has been an icon in the Los Angeles trans nightlife scene for many years and her hard work and dedication has helped make Club Cobra one of the premier destinations for trans nightlife.
Positive Public Awareness Awards – Gina Bigham and Dr. Jennifer Thompson
Gina Bigham works at the Los Angeles LGBT Center as the Program Coordinator for Cultural Arts and also as the Curator for the recently launched Trans* Lounge program. She has also played a large role in coordinating the Transgender Day of Remembrance events in West Hollywood. In short, she plays a huge role in this community by her involvement in so many programs and being such a strong and positive voice. But for those of us fortunate to know Gina, she is an amazing friend and someone who cares deeply for the community and the people within the community. She is a role model who inspires others by the way she lives her life.
Dr. Jennifer B. Thompson is an Adjunct Professor of History at California State University, Fullerton. Since beginning her transition Dr. Thompson has served as a role model to many for the way she conducts herself and for being such a strong and positive voice within the transgender community.
Community Supporters Awards – Dr. Alexander Sinclair and Jean Jeanelle
Dr. Alexander Sinclair is board certified Plastic Surgeon who has a private practice in Beverly Hills and the also runs Beverly Hills Transgender Surgery. Dr. Sinclair has been an important ally and supporter to the transgender community for many years, both in his surgical practice and in being a strong voice of support in the community. He is a friend to many and has a unique perspective based on his work and understanding of transgender people and the issues we face. He has played an important role in the advancement of medical treatment for transgender people, and more importantly his compassion and concern have touched many lives.
Jean Jeanelle is a fixture in the transgender community in Los Angeles, known to many and loved by all. She can often be found at the many social gatherings in the area and always has a hug and a smile for everyone. She is a sweetheart with a heart of gold.