Delivered at June 7, 2022 Board Meeting
It is once again Pride Month, a time to celebrate free and authentic love, highlight our support for the LGBTQIA+ community as allies, and listen so that we can learn and appreciate resilience, strength, and pride.
Often when we talk about Pride Month, we envision the bright rainbow colors representing the community’s loud and proud declaration of “This is who I am!” To me as an ally, it embodies joy, spirit, and most especially fortitude. A community’s declaration of a decision to rise above a painful, not-so-colorful history and experience, in the name of love and authenticity.
Over the course of our nation’s history, sadly, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have been considered taboo rendering them shameful and unseen. But as any light and love that cannot be dimmed, their spirit persisted, and the Stonewall riots of 1969 are considered a watershed moment for gay liberation and LGBT rights.
In one of his speeches, former President Obama acknowledged Stonewall and the struggle for gay rights as part of our nation’s journey toward the expansion of civil rights for all. Just as women and African Americans stood up for their right to vote among many other things, the gay community took a stand during a police raid of gay bars and clubs in New York, including Stonewall Inn, to exercise their right to simply be.
And this common courage demonstrated by many who were marginalized, discriminated against, and ostracized, is what makes our country, our city and our department the great, diverse place that it is.
While we have come far since the 1960s, we must not forget that there is work to be done. Many may still not fully understand and appreciate the pain and struggles of the gay community, but we will continue to stand with you and show everyone your importance to us and the city of Los Angeles.
I want to offer a shout out to the many DWP employees who yesterday participated for the first time in the city’s formal Pride Parade. And to also note that, we often think of these things as so far away from us—the discrimination and obstacles to being fully expressed is something distant and in the long past. The City of Los Angeles has the distinction of having permitted the first gay pride parade in the world in 1970. When the organizers, Christopher Street West, went to secure that permit from the Police Commission, there were a number of restrictions imposed with the permit including the requirement that they have a $1 million bond, that they ensure that at least 5,000 people participated, and that the bond can ensure against the potential of things being thrown at participants and damaging property. This is what our Police Commission did on a 4-1 vote in 1970. It took action by the ACLU to get those conditions eliminated and for them to be allowed to march on a $1500 bond and without size restrictions. In 1970, 2,000 people showed up for the first Pride Festival. We stand here today looking at what is a marvelous, joyous event that is proliferated across the county and around the world. But it was only 1970 when it was something frightening, controversial, and difficult. We should remember and know that the past is not that far removed. That misunderstanding and bigotry have been everywhere including right here. So now more than ever, allyship is critically important especially now with so many threats, fear, and gaslighting.
During Pride Month, I encourage everyone to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community so that we can all better understand how to show our love and support.
As we do every day, I join the board and the department in proudly standing behind our employees for whom Pride Month means the most. We celebrate everyone’s dedication to our city, particularly those employees who identify as LGBTQIA+, and all that they do for our customers and the department.