by Roger Velasquez
Before discussing the history of GLASC, it is first necessary to explain another organization called the Santa Clarita Connection. The Santa Clarita Connection was originally started by a Newhall, CA resident. Todd Steven Craig, a young man of twenty-four years of age, was a tall, mellow, and rather thin man who wore braces on his teeth.
He ran an ad in The Signal newspaper December of 1987 in an attempt to make gay and lesbian friends in the Santa Clarita Valley. As a result of the ad, a dinner meeting was held at TIP’S Restaurant in Valencia, CA on January 2, 1988. The small group of newly formed friends gathered for dinner and later decided to go see the movie, Nuts, starring Barbra Streisand.
Word of the newly formed group spread, helped by advertisements placed by Craig in the local newspaper, The Signal. By April of 1988 there were 27 names on the club phone list. Within those few months the group decided to call themselves the Santa Clarita Connection and began meeting regularly for dinners, parties, and social activities. Todd Craig had visions of the club becoming a politically oriented group but he lost out to the majority who wanted the Santa Clarita Connection to remain a social club. The mailing list grew as did the phone list with new members.
In mid 1988 Todd Craig met Ben Templin, who became Todd’s significant other. Todd and Ben decided to move away to Denver, Colorado in early 1989. The two lived in Denver for a few months then moved to San Francisco, CA. They lived together in the bay area until 1993 when Todd passed away from non-AIDS related Lymphoma Cancer.
Before leaving for Colorado and subsequently San Francisco, Todd met Robin Gagos and Tracy Warden who were in the process of trying to get a gay and lesbian association started in the Santa Clarita Valley. Todd, Robin, and Tracy decided to merge the Santa Clarita Connection together with GLASC and form one organization so there would not be a split of the homosexual community in the SCV. The actual merger of the two groups took place on September 28, 1988 at an open meeting and party at Robin and Tracy’s house in Valencia, CA.
Robin and Tracy took over the group in September 1988 in order to give the association direction and to keep it active when Todd and Ben moved away. It was at this point that the group became known as the Gay and Lesbian Association of Santa Clarita, or GLASC, and took on a more political climate. Soon there was a group for men and a group for women who had activities independent of each other. A modest library of gay and lesbian literature was started by Robin and Tracy in their home. There were political rap groups, singles groups, couples groups, potlucks, house-parties, and picnics.
Robin and Tracy envisioned GLASC as becoming multifaceted and providing everything from emotional support for those unsure about their sexual orientation, to AIDS awareness programs for valley businesses and organizations. A GLASC post office box was established. Articles, editorials, and ads were run in The Signal and LA Times newspapers and a Public Access television ad was run for National Coming Out Day October 11, 1988. The association became involved in the Christopher Street West Parade in 1991; GLASC members made a banner and marched in the parade.
When the club became politically oriented and began talk of running members for various local political offices such as the city council, some members began to lose interest in GLASC. The association was no longer just a place for people to meet for fun, entertainment, and friendship. In time, meetings were being held at the Red Cross hall, at Robin and Tracy’s house, and at the Canyon Country Park Community Room.
Because many original members of GLASC had moved away from the Santa Clarita Valley and because of the amount of personal time, effort, and monetary expense to keep the group active and organized, Robin and Tracy stepped away from the leadership role of GLASC. After a time the group stopped meeting altogether for a period of about a year. The active participation by the members of GLASC had ebbed considerably by this time. The GLASC phone line and PO Box ceased to exist and it was in 1993 that Jim B. and Greg M. stepped in to keep the group active.
Jim and Greg organized several fun events including The Annual Esther Williams Pool Party at their home and brunches at local restaurants that were well attended by GLASC members. They also sent out newsletters, with the help of Al Carbonara, to keep the mailing list active and to inform members of future events. Their charter was to keep the association together and to make it a social group once again. Although they were successful in their endeavor, they found that it was becoming too difficult and too costly to maintain the group all by themselves.
In 1994 Al Carbonara and Scott E. stepped in to lend a hand. Al and Scott hosted a GLASC Christmas party at their home in 1994 and a GLASC Valentines party in 1995. Al and Scott & Jim and Greg sent out the GLASC Newsletter, REFLECTIONS, to help keep the association intact.
In the Spring/Summer of 1995, GLASC members Joe Rose, Stephen Nash, Jose Tana, and Hector Fernandez organized a GLASC Thursday night dinner group that has continued to meet at local restaurants every Thursday night. This proved to be quite successful and has attracted many old and new association members and guests.
In September of 1995, Al and Scott hosted a GLASC Organizing Meeting at their home. The idea was to spread out the work and responsibilities of the club to volunteers interested in lending a helping hand. A GLASC Core Group was formed to help with planning activities and operations of GLASC for the 1996 calendar year. Ideas were brainstormed and action items assigned to individuals and couples. Scott E. & Al Carbonara became the editors of the calendar/newsletter, REFLECTIONS, and were put in charge of the GLASC treasury. Roger Velasquez & Hector Fernandez volunteered for communications and started a GLASC telephone Hotline. Jose C. & Hilmar K. became the newsletter distributors. Dan M. & Doug Gronholm made GLASC available on the Internet complete with a GLASC home-page and E-mail capabilities. Tom DiCioccio became the official GLASC political advisor/columnist while Sharon Tobin volunteered to take charge of GLASC press-releases. Joe Rose and Tyson Wright were also present and became miscellaneous volunteers and advisors.
The newly formed GLASC Core Group organized social events for each month of 1996, established a dues structure for club members to help with the expenses, started a modest publicity campaign, issued a newsletter detailing the GLASC Core Groups’ work, and started the new GLASC telephone information Hotline (805-288-2814). They also set in motion the ground work to enable GLASC to become a nonprofit organization within one year.
A newsletter and thank you letter were sent to Carol Rock, Lifestyle Editor of The Signal newspaper, thanking her for her helpfulness and support in putting people in touch with GLASC. Carol was asked to continue helping GLASC by including our information in her column. She did this in the December 17, 1995 Community Notes segment of The Signal. A newsletter was also sent to the local Public Access Channel, Santa Clarita Valley Television (SCVTV), with a note to please include our information on the televised Community Calendar and Bulletin Board.
On Thursday, December 29, 1995 the Gay & Lesbian Association of Santa Clarita had a continuous advertisement running on the public access channel in Santa Clarita Valley. There was a large positive response to the SCVTV advertisement that reaped many phone calls to the GLASC Hotline. Because of the distribution of responsibilities of GLASC, the publicity campaign, and the GLASC Hotline (805-288-2814), GLASC membership has grown substantially.
GLASC became a non-profit organization on October 5, 1996 at the First Annual GLASC Officer Election. It is now part of the GLASC by-laws that GLASC provide outreach and advocacy as a safe and easy way for gays and lesbians in the Santa Clarita Valley to meet their gay and lesbian neighbors for fun, entertainment, and friendship. GLASC also has hopes to raise money for local charities that will specifically benefit the community of the SCV. In addition, GLASC is optimistic that someday in the near future it will be able to offer various services to the gay and lesbian community of the Santa Clarita Valley.