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Mayor Garcetti to LGBT People: 'We Are That Light' That Fights the Darkness

Eric Garcetti
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Alexei Romanoff

The Los Angeles mayor gave an empowering speech at a Pride reception: "Who cares who's in the White House? I care who's in this house."

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Eric Garcetti delivered a rousing speech Wednesday at a Pride reception that both honored local LGBT history and looked forward to its future.

The mayor of Los Angeles, speaking to local leaders at the historic Wattles Mansion, began by honoring Alexei Romanoff, a veteran of the 1967 demonstrations in the wake of a police raid at the Black Cat bar, an event that preceded Stonewall as one of the major protests to launch the modern LGBT rights movement. Police had raided the bar, in L.A.'s Silver Lake neighborhood, as patrons celebrated the new year.

"We love and we honor our brothers and sisters at Stonewall, but before Stonewall, Alexei and his brothers and sisters were on the streets of Silver Lake saying, 'We are people who deserve rights. And to kiss on New Year's Eve should not be a crime.' And that arc of history which he helped to bend is increasingly coming back down to earth," said Garcetti, who shook Romanoff's hand in front of the assembled crowd.

Garcetti stressed how much LGBT people had accomplished with this spirit of resistance. Four years ago, he said, the Defense of Marriage Act had yet to be struck down in U.S. v. Windsor. Today, marriage equality is the law of the land.

"But we have a long, long way to go," he cautioned. "For so many of our trans brothers and sisters, our LGBTQ youth who are sleeping on the streets tonight, for queer people of color, the circle of opportunity is still closed in too many places in too many ways."

Garcetti did not mince words when it came to President Trump, whose administration has proven unsupportive of the LGBT community -- rolling back protections for trans students, canceling the White House Pride reception, and remaining silent on the horrors of gay and bisexual men being killed in Chechen concentration camps.

"We know that the strides that we make toward a more equal society could be reversed if a certain man with an uncontrollable urge to tweet decides to turn back the clock, which in my mind is a big pile of covfefe," he added to the cheers of the crowd.

Garcetti also offered advice for those who may feel hopeless in the face of an uncertain future, in which hard-won rights and protections could be taken away.

"How do we go on in these days where we feel like curling in a ball, or just yelling at the TV all day long? Well, first of all, get off the floor, turn off the television, and for starters, I hope you'll all join Brian Pendleton early on Hollywood and Highland Sunday morning," he said. Pendleton is an organizer of L.A. Pride, being marked this year with a protest march beginning at that location Sunday.

"We all need to advocate on the federal and, we cannot forget, the international level, for our brothers and sisters in Chechnya and Uganda and too many places where they are not only being oppressed, they are being killed," Garcetti continued.

"We need to stand together for people whose basic existence is threatened, who are living so deep in the closet that they can't even see the light that is out here. We are that light. We need to remind them of that. They need to feel that and to know that. We need to engage with each other across the divisions within the LGBTQ community as well."

Garcetti also offered next steps for the LGBT community after Pride.

"So we march on Sunday. But on Monday, sign up to be a volunteer at the LGBT Center or Liberty Hill or buy a copy of the Los Angeles Blade and support local gay journalism. Nothing in D.C. matters if we can't make it real here. And make sure those of us representing you in the city of L.A. are working hard to make sure your voices are represented in City Hall."

Garcetti concluded his remarks by thanking the crowd for "being a part of making history."

"Look around and breathe this in. This is an incredible moment in our history. And more than ever, people are counting on us to lead. You are not powerless. ... We are mighty and strong. Who cares who's in the White House? I care who's in this house."

"Have a very happy Pride."

Watch the speech below.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.