by randy hope –
Known around town for his big smile and unwavering community goodwill, “Big Mike” Phillips is a man who wears many hats as an established, enthusiastic fund-raiser, popular bartender, government LGBT adviser, co-founder and board member of several nonprofit organizations.
“Big Mike” not only pours a mean drink or two as a well-known bartender at Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Café, but also spends much of his time raising funds to benefit the community. Phillips initially moved to San Diego in 1989 to spend time with his best friend, Tino, who was succumbing to AIDS.
“When I got out here, I noticed that he wasn’t well at all,” Phillips recalls. “So I went back home the following Saturday and sold everything, packed my bags and moved out here. I wanted to be here with him, because I knew he wasn’t going to be around for very much longer.”
His friend died three months later.
“While I was here, he made me promise to give San Diego at least one year’s chance,” Phillips says. “No matter how good or bad it was. So I promised him, and that promise has lasted all these years.”
Though he’s a transplant from San Antonio, Texas, his roots in San Diego run deep and for more than two decades he’s captured the hearts of many people, as his love for the community he lives in is no secret. “It’s good to be a part of a community that opens their hearts and shows compassion the way this city does,” Phillips said. “We are all better off for it.”
“It’s good to be a part of a community that opens their hearts and shows compassion the way this city does,” Phillips said. “We are all better off for it.”
As with so many things of joy, for the past 15 years “Big Mike” he’s turned his birthday celebration into a fundraising event to support LGBT causes, children’s charities, women’s cancer initiatives, multiple sclerosis and HIV / AIDS concerns, just to name a few. “Over the years, with the help of many wonderful friends and community members, I have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Phillips says.
It’s much like Big Mike’s photography, a work in-progress that gets better with age, focusing on others yet highlighting another element of this multi-faceted man-about-town. “I try to bring out the best in people while encouraging them to have fun at the same time,” he says.
This year, recent winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars and “Queen of Queens,” Chad Michaels will be on hand to celebrate along with other honored guests, for this the 56th birthday celebration of community personality and philanthropist “Big Mike” Phillips in a benefit for the Harvey Milk Foundation.
Everyone is invited to be a part of the celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 27. A donation for the organization in any amount is appreciated and can be made at the door of the event at Wang’s San Diego in North Park.
“I try to bring out the best in people while encouraging them to have fun at the same time”
Those who would like to contribute to the empowering cause, but cannot attend the day of the celebration can still do so by sending a check payable to The Harvey Milk Foundation in care of Big Mike to P.O. Box 33224, San Diego, CA 92163. For more information, contact Big Mike at 619.807.7324.
The Harvey B. Milk Foundation
The Harvey B. Milk Foundation was established by Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk and co-founded with Harvey’s San Francisco ally and campaign manager, Anne Kronenberg. From targeted LGBT youth support programs to supporting cross cultural discussions, from working to harmonize and share best advocacy practices on a global level, to Harvey’s very unique but critical focus on building a foundation for societal change through face to face conversation with communities that have traditionally opposed LGBT equality, the foundation works to realize a dream that Harvey began and that is up to all of us to create.
Category: San Diego