Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Advisor to President Obama, is keenly aware that the honor she’s receiving from the Los Angeles LGBT Center at its 48th Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards on Saturday, Sept. 23, is coming at a perilous time in American history, particularly for LGBT people.
“I know people are scared and feeling very vulnerable and under attack,” she tells the Los Angeles Blade in an exclusive interview. “All Americans have a responsibility to make it clear that the LGBT community doesn’t stand alone. We all stand with the entire community. We all have to lock arms together and look out for one another.”
Working with Obama, Jarrett was very involved with the ‘herculean’ effort to repeal the US military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy as well as lifting the ban on transgender military service.
Trump last month signed a directive aimed at once again banning trans people from serving in the military.
“There are already transgender people serving our country admirably, making great sacrifices for our country. Why would you try to change that? It’s not true to our core values,” says Jarrett. “I just believe that anyone who is prepared to serve and sacrifice for our country should be given permission to do so.”
Since Trump’s election last November, he has also allowed guidelines protecting trans students to be rescinded, terminated the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, made a number of anti-LGBT appointments, and supported health care reform bills that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.
“Believe me, I know this is hard,” Jarrett says. “And it is shocking, particularly to young people who I think have been perhaps lulled into a false sense of security. But our democracy is worth fight for and it’s something every citizen can do. It’s within their power to do it. So let’s do it.”
Jarrett is being presented with the Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award at the Center’s gala on Saturday. The evening, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will also honor WME | IMG co-CEO Ariel Emanuel with the Vanguard Award.
This year’s Gala comes at a critical time for the Center, a time when federal funding for many of its services, particularly those that serve the most vulnerable in our community, are threatened.
At press time only a few tickets to the Gala are still available, but attendance is not required to participate in the incredible online silent auction or to purchase a raffle ticket to win a luxurious 8-day, 7 night European river cruise that departs from Paris, Amsterdam, Prague and Budapest and other cities.
Visit lalgbtcenter.org/gala for tickets and information on the auction and raffle.