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The Experienced
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The Experienced
Vote

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Triangle Square, Hollywood's LGBT senior living center, was abuzz Tuesday morning with all things election. Volunteers shuttled a few groups of residents who had not already voted with an absentee ballot down to the nearest polling place. Today, now that the votes have been tallied, check out what some of our community's seniors think are the biggest issues facing the gay community -- and how far gays and lesbians have really come.

Triangle Square, Hollywood's LGBT senior living center, was abuzz Tuesday morning with all things election. Volunteers with The Buddy System -- a non-profit group currently in its development stages which would ultimately pair seniors with younger buddies to promote intergeneration interaction -- shuttled a few groups of residents who had not already voted with an absentee ballot down to the nearest polling place (the shuttle was donated by Christopher Street West).

This is the first election for Triangle Square, said executive director Mark Supper, and nearly all of the residents voted. Residents have been active since they started moving into the center last year. When Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot, some seniors took to the streets and set up an information table outside of the building each week. During a farmer's market that takes place on the street outside, some residents set up a booth, and raised $2,800 to fight Proposition 8.

Here are a few words from some of the voters the morning of the election:

Maria Dolores Diaz, age 70: ?"I've been an activist since the 1960s, at first for the Latino and Chicano community. I used to work with young adults for higher education, and later Cal State L.A. I moved to gay and lesbian politics later on. I went to the March on Washington in the 1970s, and I left California to go to New Mexico and Arizona to work on gay and lesbian rights.

"When I voted the first time, for John Kennedy, it was really exciting for me to vote in the United States. I was a naturalized citizen, so some of my family friends from Honduras were like, 'How could you do this to your country?' But I got over it quickly. Politics has always been important to me. My parents were both activists, working on social causes."

Phillip Radtke, age 65:?"I was a lifelong Democrat, growing up in Orange County when it was even more conservative than it is now. I used to joke that my dad and myself were the only Democrats in the county.

"If I could talk to myself at age 20, I would say, 'Don't let fear win.'"

Paul Ehret:?"One of the important things for me is that the issue of gays in the military comes back into the race. Enlistment has been so low that other countries have accepted it, and even some generals have come around and said we have to look at this issue again. I think if we do well with congressional seats, and have a [progressive] president, we'll get along well with that.

"I voted in 1968, and I've been through the Briggs Initiative. As a gay man, we always knew there would be a raid on a gay bar between Labor Day and Election Day, because councilmen were running for reelection, and they promised to clean up vice, and we were considered to be vice at that time. In 1976, when the bathhouses were raided over on Sunset, it was really scary -- they put handcuffs on us, and lined us all up. There were helicopters overhead, it was the lead story on the news. I always ended up where the raids were!"

Bryant Gordon:?"I've been voting now for almost 50 years. This year, it's been really like a party. People are really into it. I'm not speaking just on the gay issues, but all the issues. The spirit of voting now is really being impressed in this election. I remember when Dewey defeated Truman, and it was because nobody went to the polls. Nobody expected that. And my parents were Republican -- I was the only Democrat in my entire family!"

Andi Segal, age "63 and proud of it":?"I feel that No on 8 is so important that it goes through. There's so many young couples now with children, and the one that makes the most money could claim the child as a dependent. I was with my lover for 36 years, and she wasn't able to claim my son, even though she made much more money than me. She would have been able to get him on her medical insurance. Instead he had medical and Medicare for a long time with me. I was a working mother always. I just feel that the children of today need to have their rights and the best medical care ever."

Nancy Valverde, age 76:?"I was arrested when I was 17 for being a lesbian. I was held for days in the County jail. I wasn't booked, or charged with anything. The district attorney said, 'That's what you get for cutting your hair so short.'

"I've voted in every election as soon as I became old enough. And I always vote for a Democrat because I've never been better off under a Republican. I came out when I was 15, and I've been very politically active. My journey through life has always been very rocky. I'm not a conformist, and I do what I damn well please."

Lee Glaze:?"Michelle's going to be the first lady, and his little daughters are going to have a gorgeous room, and I'd love to decorate it. Years ago, there was a friend of mine who was a florist, who asked me if I wanted to do some work. I asked him where, and he said, 'The White House.' I said, 'Well, which White House?' and he said, 'The White House.' So we decorated the tree at the Reagan White House.

"[John F.] Kennedy was my first election. And then I campaigned my tits off for Bobby. He had a split personality. I remember him yelling at some aides. I wanted to hit him with my cane. He was a real lion.

"If it's an election, if you want something, you've gotta get it -- just do it. This is an election, not a soup kitchen. The gays now have no clue where they come from. They think, 'Oh, you can dance with whomever you want, wherever,' but it used to be against the law.

"Poo Bear," age 81:?"My first election was in 1946. I've been voting ever since. I've been a Democrat all my life, so I've always voted Democrat all my life. Coming up, we used to say that the Democrats were the poor people, and the Republicans were all the wealthy people and I came from a poor family!

"We need a change from the Bush administration. I figure Obama would be taking it to a different area from where this country is concerned -- civil rights and such -- and that he would take it on the right track. We desperately need help, especially with the economy. The way prices are going, it's difficult to make it. Sometimes at the end of the month, there's no food in the cupboard. But my dog, Pookie Bear, eats first. I gotta take care of him. He's my baby.

John Logan, age 73:?"One of the gay community's greatest advances is having the power to talk back to the people that were in power. When Chief Davis was the chief of police, we were fighting against the Briggs Initiative in 1978. I was getting interviewed on the news one day, and boy, I laid into him like you wouldn't believe. But to show the power we earned, he eventually turned around, and he became our ally in order to get elected to the California senate. When West Hollywood became a city, it was a really big deal. In 1984, I was with our mayor, who was a woman, and we went up to ... Barney's Beanery, and she ordered them to remove the 'No Faggots Allowed' sign.

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