Photo courtesy of Mia Yamamoto.

Unapologetically Whole: Queer Elders of Color Speak Out

Panel Conversation, All Ages
Santa Monica History Museum

1350 7th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

This panel brings together a group of dynamic and resilient individuals who have been at the forefront of LGBTQ+ and other social justice movements in Los Angeles for decades. These queer elders of color have experienced firsthand the intersectional nature of oppression and worked tirelessly to dismantle it.

In this conversation, panelists Joey Terrill, Phill Wilson, and Mia Yamamoto will reflect on their life’s work of amplifying the voices of those who have been silenced, creating safe spaces, and advocating for policy changes. Through their stories, they offer invaluable insight into the challenges and triumphs of bringing our whole selves to every fight. The panel will be moderated by Elizabeth (Liz) T. Vazquez.

Participant Bios

Joey Terrill’s activist roots go back to high school, when he volunteered for the farm workers unionization movement. He attended Immaculate Heart College and was then part of the loosely organized artist collective the Escandalosas. During the AIDS crisis, he seamlessly incorporated AIDS advocacy into his art, including illustrations for the Spanish-language educational comic series Chicos Modernos to promote safer sex practices, and contributing to exhibits such as “Art, AIDS, America” and “Queerly Tehauantin.” His art has been featured at MoMA, LACMA, MOCA, ONE Gallery, and others. He is the Global Director of Advocacy and Partnerships at AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

GLAD Spirit of Justice Award-winner Phill Wilson is the founder and former President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, a think tank whose mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in African American communities. Previously, he served as the AIDS Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles, Director of Policy and Planning at AIDS Project Los Angeles, co-chair of the Los Angeles County HIV Health Commission, and appointee to the Health Resources & Services Administration AIDS Advisory Committee. He was the co-founder of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention.

Criminal defense attorney, former public defender, and Harvey Milk Legacy Award-winning transgender rights activist Mia Yamamoto was born in a concentration camp for civilians of Japanese ancestry at Poston, Arizona during World War II. Upon graduating from college, she enlisted in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Vietnam. Afterwards, she attended UCLA School of Law, where she co-founded the Asian Pacific Islander Law Student Association (APILSA), and started her own practice in 1984. At age 60, Mia came out publicly as transgender, becoming an ardent advocate and spokesperson for the trans community in and out of the courtroom.

Elizabeth (Liz) T. Vazquez (Moderator) is a first-generation Mexican-American artist, writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles. They received their BA in Film Production with a focus on cinematography at the Arts University of Bournemouth in the UK. In 2021, they became an artist-in-residence at The Philosophical Research Society, presenting their first solo show, MANO DE DIOS. In 2022, they graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory with an MFA in Screenwriting. They now manage social media, PR, & Marketing for the Philosophical Research Society while continuing to work on their creative projects.

This program is organized by The Outwords Archive as part of the 2023 Circa: Queer Histories Festival, presented by One Institute.

  • Since 1975, we've been sharing the rich, diverse history of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Bay area. We are committed to serving the community by providing access to dynamic exhibitions highlighting the depth and historical complexity of the westside; as well as our extensive collections of historical objects and images. With programmatic events, interactive features and pop-up exhibits SMHM is the preeminent venue for exploring Santa Monica Bay area history and culture.

  • The Outwords Archive (OUTWORDS) captures, preserves, and shares the stories of LGBTQIA2S+ elders, to build community and catalyze social change.