Demonstrations … Yes! Shut down Pride … No!Commentary, Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest, Online Only, Top Highlights Wednesday, July 12th, 2017
Commentary: Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest
As a Latino and gay activist for over 45 years who has organized, led and participated in demonstrations, sit-ins, marches etc., and one who has been beaten and arrested by police in the 1960s and 70s, it is indeed upsetting to see my last column so misrepresented.
As I stated, as the 2017 Grand Marshal of the Washington, D.C. Pride parade, I witnessed first-hand the attempts of some LGBT activists to “shut down” and end this parade which resulted in the parade being stopped for almost two hours and being rerouted, thus causing a lot of turmoil and anger within their own community. As a co-founder of San Diego’s first Pride march (1974) and organizer of the first Cesar Chavez parade and the first LGBT contingent in the Martin Luther King parade, I would not also support the shutting down of these parades.
As an activist who worked with both Harvey Milk and Cesar Chavez in the 1970s and worked hard to get the first African American and Latino elected to public office and has written a weekly column since 1973 advocating social justice and equality for women, people of color, the poor, immigrants, trans people, veterans, etc. all my life, now to be called “racist” by some is yes, personally hurtful.
But to be honest, it’s not too surprising as lately some LGBT activists have become like “cannibals” and are eating their own and viciously attacking fellow activists and LGBT organizations. Recently, I have witnessed a trans police office called a “pig,” and a 71-year-old lesbian activist and founder of our AIDS Walk being called a “fascist” and threatened because she is a Republican.
When it comes to police issues, I know that “Stonewall” was about a riot against police harassment and violence against our community, and yes, I know that racism, violence, homophobia still exists within many police departments and officer across this country. Jess Jessop and I led demonstrations against police entrapment against gays (May Company arrests). I organized demonstrations outside the police department and court buildings against violence toward the LGBT community, the black and brown communities and city ordinances against the “cross dressing law.” But I also established and was the first chair of the police and sheriff’s LGBT Advisory Board, which resulted among other things in police sensitivity training, better treatment, a change of protocols for trans inmates in county jails and the appointment of the first openly gay chaplain. The relationship between the police department and LGBT community has changed greatly since the 1960s and yes, I worked hard to get the first woman, lesbian and Jew elected as our District Attorney.
During the AIDS crisis I organized many of the demonstrations including one taking funeral crosses and Stars of David and piling over 400 on the steps of City Hall with over 3,000 demonstrators. I have worked with both Democrats and Republicans on civils rights issues and legislation and am proud to be a past state chair of Equality California.
The San Diego LGBT community knows me, has heard me speak at rallies and read my columns as I have for decades fought for equality and civil rights for all people. I have not been the perfect activist and have made my mistakes, but will not stand by and let my opinions and record be misrepresented.
The enemies of our LGBT community are “outside” not inside and, yes, while I support non-violent demonstrations and sit-ins, I do not support LGBT activists trying to completely shut down Pride parades or marches.
By the way, I attended and supported a Black Lives Matter demonstration in front of the San Diego Federal Courthouse downtown, and yes, I also attended a memorial for over 30 San Diego police officers killed in the line of duty last month.
And as for those attacking me as being a part of the political establishment, you are probably right. All my life I have said two major things: “A community, indeed a movement that does not know where it came from does not know where it’s going;” and “We are the last civil rights movement of the 21st century and must continue to be in the streets and in the suites of political power.”
Thank you for listening, God bless our community, country and all of you. Happy Pride!
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