Hello Kansas City,

It’s been almost a month since my previous position leading the Kansas City Center for Inclusion came to an unexpected end. Since then, I’ve been resting, reading and practicing self-care. I’d like to thank everyone for the check-ins and kind messages. They are very much needed and appreciated.

Like during a war, you don’t process trauma during the fight; you just keep moving on to the next battle. Once your tour is over is when the PTSD sets in. I get that now. As an empath, I feel the feels of so many people and communities.

The violence that took place this past year was profound. Thank you to the good people at the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project (KCAVP) for doing the hardest of work. I am glad I was there to support your efforts, and I will continue to do so.

In developing pillars of community service, I’ve always enjoyed programming that is poignant and engaging. To this end, I’m now working on some topics that I can address in creating a social media channel. I’ve also enjoyed the work around economic justice, and I’m toying with the idea of an LGBTQ job creation and placement agency.

Saving lives, mostly around HIV prevention and harm reduction, is also important to me. I will be part of a task force working on the “Get Tested KC” initiative.

The needs of the transgender community are glaring, a fact that is supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. It is my goal to make certain that resources are provided for the most marginalized people.

In reflecting upon my work in the community the last four years, it is hard to discern what I’m most proud of. Whether it was with the Transfinity KC Chorus, Equal Trans Support 

Group or at the Center for Inclusion, it can best be summarized in a recent holiday gift I received – a book called Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States by Samantha Allen. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you do. The book speaks to a lot of what inspires me as an activist.

This gift included a letter to me. Here’s what it said, paraphrased for context:

Dear Samantha,

I hope you can see why I thought of you when I heard about this book, because like I’ve said before, you are what I think of regarding LGBTQ+ activism in Kansas City. You are the person who introduced me to this work and who made it a reality. You’ve shown me how hard it is, but also how important. Your capacity for care has widened my own, and your motivation to do good has pushed me in the same direction. I see you in the pages of this book. I hope you see how integral you have been to the local LGBTQ+ story of Kansas City. 

I do not know what is in store for me next. But I was moved recently by this paraphrased statement attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Warm regards,

Samantha Ruggles
LGBTQ+ community activist

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

2023 Reserva de la Familia Limited Edition Terceerunquinto

On January 10, 2023, Reserva de la Familia, Jose Cuervo’s ultra-premium collection of artisanal small-batch tequilas and Mexico’s crown jewel, announced its 2023 collector’s box, designed by artists Rolando Flores and Gabriel Cázares of the Mexico-based Tercerunquinto Collective. The piece of custom art, titled “Structuring a Landscape”, features a geometric abstraction of the landscape of Tequila, Mexico and will adorn the 2023 limited-release collector’s box of Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo.

Since 1995, Jose Cuervo has worked with internationally recognized artists with roots in Mexico to design the box artwork for Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo. Each box is an authentic collector’s item, with a limited quantity produced annually before a new artist is chosen. Previous artists include Gonzalo Lebrija, Pedro Friedeberg, Carlos Aguirre, Ricardo Pinto and many more. Every artist is selected by a team of art curators including 11th generation Cuervo family member and CEO of Jose Cuervo, Juan Domingo Beckmann, Executive Director of El Museo del Barrio in New York City, Patrick Charpenel and founder of Zona Maco, Mexico’s number one art fair, Zélika García.

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Photo courtesy of Velvet Ibiza

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This year, international crowds of LGBTQ+ women will be attending Velvet Ibiza on May 2 - 7 to celebrate life, belonging, and freedom. Event organizers have rented an entire resort in order to build a community vibe and allow queer women to connect so there’s no reason to go anywhere unless of course, you want to go shopping, head to the beach, or explore the island.

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