It was just over a year ago that Dave Garcia was put in charge of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s election night party to celebrate, in part, what seemed certain to be a Hillary Clinton presidential victory.
Garcia, the Center’s director of policy and community building, now describes it as “the most disappointing evening of our lives.”
“But a year later, we are fighting back,” Garcia said defiantly to a group of Center supporters at recent reception held at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza.
While the LGBT community has been one of many targets during the first 10 months of Trump’s presidency, reception attendees said Democratic election results earlier this month, including the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, have lifted spirits considerably.
Americans across the country also elected at least eight out transgender people to office including Danica Roem to the Virginia House of Delegates. Roem is now the nation’s only out transgender state representatives.
“I’m feeling a little more hopeful because of these recent elections,” said longtime Center supporter Eion Waxell. “It’s nice to see some positive signs.”
Waxell had sporadically given to the Center during the 25 years he’s lived in Los Angeles. But after the presidential election of 2016, he became a monthly donor.
“I’m so lucky that I don’t need so many of the services that are provided here but I want to make sure that they are there for people in our community who need them,” he said. “It was driven home with the election last year.”
Filmmakers Jason Stone and Rob Connolly (pictured, above) are a couple who saw last year’s election as a call to action.
“It’s been a wake-up call,” said Stone whose credits include co-writing and producing 2013’s This is the End. “It’s great to be complacent when things are good because things are good and you don’t really have to work hard. Too many of us thought the fight was over when the Defense of Marriage Act fell, but it wasn’t. Things can change. But I’m hopeful and I’m trying to do things that engage me in the fight in ways that I’ve never been before.”
Connolly, who directed the feature film Edge of Winter, decided to fight back by signing up for the 2017 AIDS/LifeCycle and enlisting five friends to join him.
“We raised a good bit of money and had an amazing time,” Connolly said. “I didn’t even have a bike. I just went out and signed up before I thought about it too much.”
“It’s about how you can get the most involved and make the most difference when you feel sort of helpless a lot of the time,” he added. “The Center has sort of been a way for me to tap into things you can tell are being affected by this administration. I think the overall feeling is looking for ways to engage.”
Since taking office last January, the Trump administration has reversed a federal civil rights law protecting transgender people from discrimination in the workplace, tried to ban trans people from the U.S. military, and rescinded guidelines protecting transgender students.
Trump has also terminated the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, made a number of anti-LGBT appointments, and supported health care reform bills that would be devastating to the LGBT community.
Center supporter Lee Marquardt has lived through 13 U.S. presidents dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The first 10 months of the Trump administration have been the toughest test ever for the retired truck driver when it comes to national politics.
“I know that there’s going to be another day,” said Marquardt who lives in the Center’s Triangle Square affordable housing complex for seniors. “I always have hope that change will happen soon and that we can get back to being good again. We’ve always been a country that accepted other people and gave people hope for a future. We’re not this small bunch of people that have hatred in our hearts.”