Opinion: My first time attending the LGBTQ Caucus was a disappointment

I have never been registered to an American political party.

I never really understood our politics: A two-party system, on a very base level, just fuels black-and-white-ism; even Britain has a few smaller parties that manage to influence the larger two … The dogma of it all—especially watching the conventioneers—borders religiosity … Not to mention I just can’t seem to be on board with the idea that a single party can provide the answers to everything.

So here, I admit, I could very well just be naive at my first statewide political convention, not understanding that, perhaps, this is just the way these things go: A constant presence of pats on the back, seemingly endless bouts of applause and cheers, a sense of optimism (which could very well be needed nowadays).

But I expected more from the LGBTQ Caucus than congratulatory orations and cheap tokens of inspiration.

Opening speaker Sen. Toni Atkins noted we are living in a time when the federal government wants to radically halt or even reverse the steps the LGBTQ community has taken to achieve rights. In that sense, wouldn’t it be necessary to be just as radical about critically examining the Democratic party, which has harnessed our rights the most?

Sure, Kamala Harris has become a very vocal ally. But perhaps her gaggle of supporters in the audience—who couldn’t be bothered to sit through the speech of Councilmember Lisa Middleton of Palm Springs, the state’s first openly trans representative of a city—should have had questions thrown to them. Like why the senator vehemently opposed the decriminalization of sex work while she was the district attorney of San Francisco? It was a stance that affected trans people and queer youth the most. Hell, the protestors from the Black Cat Tavern—the site of one of the first demonstrations in the United States protesting police harassment of LGBT people, preceding Stonewall by two years—are probably wondering from the heavens why any queer is supporting a cop at all, for anything let alone president.

Why hadn’t anyone discussed how the neoliberal policies of the very party they support have led to increased homelessness among our LGBTQ youth and seniors?

Why were we applauding, rather than raising an eyebrow, at a straight man, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, saying “everyone is a little queer in one way or another,” when being “a little queer” doesn’t come with the disinvestment, marginalization, and criminalization that comes with being “fully queer”? I get it, you’re an ally and, in a sense, you’re right, Mr. Garcetti; but your comfort in admitting that came on the back of people who were punished for being queer and, in a time when trans women of color are being killed for no other reason than being who they are, your attempt at collective similarity comes off as dismissive of the queer experience.

I never thought I would say this about any group that identifies as LGBTQ-centric, but the group was exhaustingly temperate and banal.

There is, nonetheless, a silver lining: Sen. Scott Weiner, one of the state’s most progressive LGBTQ politicians and pro-housing advocates, was the sole person to recognize the failure we’ve been having when it comes to our youth.

“Homeless youth are disproportionately LGBTQ—we are failing our kids, my friends,” he said.

We are failing—and no, that doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate wins or give up on hope. It that means we continue to raise our critical eye. It means being picky, analytical, and discomforting to the status quo.

Because, as everyone from the Black Cat to Stonewall will tell you, our lives depend on it.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.