Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 6, 2017

Pride and prejudice

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

Tonight either right before or the City Council will take a break during the City Council meeting there will be a Pride event on the steps of City Hall.   The event starts at 7:00 p.m. and has largely been billed as a celebratory event but as a community photo op.  As we know, our elected officials love themselves a photo opportunity, but what makes this particular photo opportunity leave a sour taste is that some of us remember that the Mayor who will be reading a proclamation declaring June as LGBTQ Pride month was not supportive of the LGBTQ community while she was on the School Board.

A timely reminder from Twitter:

But the Twitter chorus are not the only community members who recall this recent factoid.  A member of the Alameda Unified LGBTQ Roundtable who was asked by the City to speak at the event tonight, expressed her concerns to the City Council:

Dear Mayor Spencer, Vice Mayor Vella, Council Member Ashcraft, Council Member Matarrese, and Council Member Oddie,

I truly appreciate your effort to honor and celebrate the LGBTQ community during Pride month. Thank you for your clear sign of support by displaying the oversized Pride flag at City Hall. I smile each time I drive by it. I am also grateful for your leadership throughout the year to help bring the Everyone Belongs Here campaign to a broader platform.

However, I find myself questioning the Love Our Island LGBTQ Pride Event scheduled for Tuesday, June 6th which primarily consists of a community photo opportunity and, as far as I can determine, did not involve representatives of the LGBTQ community during the planning process. The AUSD LGBTQ Roundtable was informed of the event only after it was set in motion.

Shortly after I voiced my concerns about this event on social media, Sarah Henry asked me via email to speak at the event as a representative of the AUSD LGBTQ Roundtable. I thank her for the opportunity to say a few words, but before I agree to this invitation I first need to be candid about the spirit of what I would say.

Like many of us, I have many different roles within Alameda. If I speak on Tuesday, I would speak on behalf of myself as an Alameda parent and LGBTQ activist and not as a representative of the Alameda Unified School District or chair of the AUSD LGBTQ Roundtable.

When an elected official stands for a photo op, they send the message to the community that they support whatever that photo happens to represent. This event intends to show support and pride for LGBTQ community however when Mayor Spencer was on the Alameda School Board she was clearly not an ally of the LGBTQ community. In fact, she was the face of the opposition of our community’s request to include LGBTQ themed lessons in elementary schools. I remember listening to her speak at the School Board meetings with tears in my eyes and fear in my heart. I am far from the only person who feels this way.

If I speak at this event, I would enthusiastically recognize some of the many signs of progress our city has shown over the past year. I would also ask for Mayor Trish Spencer to acknowledge the pain she caused the LGBTQ community and our allies.  Anything less than a clear and direct apology would indicate that she is in not yet an ally and is not yet ready to stand for a photo in support of the LGBTQ community.

Please let me know if my invitation to speak still stands. [emphasis added]

If my information is correct, this individual will not be speaking at the event any longer as the event now will only be a photo op.

During the Mayoral campaign when this issue arose there were a lot of excuses made for Trish Spencer’s words and votes around the Lesson 9 issue.  There were plenty of “let me explain what she really was trying to do” as though those who followed the issue had neither eyes to see what was happening nor ears to hear her words.   There also was a lot of convenient reframing of her votes to retroactively make it appear as though she was an ally to the LGBTQ community all along.

If Trish Spencer truly has changed her position on the issue and realized the error of her lack of support those years ago then this would be the perfect time to issue an apology.  As the letter points out, anything less than a clear and direct apology (aka no “I’m sorry if you were offended” ridiculousness) will reveal that proclamations read are meaningless and photo ops in front of a huge rainbow flag are just empty gestures.  If there is no longer the opportunity to speak at the event on the steps certainly those LGBTQ community members and their allies could simply walk up those steps after the photo op and pull a speaker slip to make a statement at a recorded public meeting.

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19 Comments »

  1. And the mayor should most deff be threatened with the live rats in a cage strapped to her head treatment on the steps of the city hall unless the apology meets the Do newspeak criteria.

    Comment by jack — June 6, 2017 @ 7:20 am

  2. City staff who organized this event did so without ill intention and with really positive goals. In order to provide a space where the city’s goals and aspirations meet the concerns of many in the community about rainbow-washing (is that the greenwashing equivalent?) past actions, a parallel photo op is being organized for those who want to attend but don’t want to feel like they are condoning or ignoring the Mayor’s past acts.

    Here’s a link to the info:
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1455521331179020/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%2229%22%2C%22ref_notif_type%22%3A%22plan_user_joined%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D&notif_t=plan_user_joined&notif_id=1496755472036028

    Comment by JKW — June 6, 2017 @ 7:22 am

  3. Your information was correct. My initial invitation to speak was rescinded.- Olivia H.

    Comment by ohiggins30 — June 6, 2017 @ 7:55 am

  4. 2018, did you think we were just going to sit around waiting for you?

    Comment by MP — June 6, 2017 @ 7:55 am

    • Yes, because a photo in front of a big rainbow flag with LGBTQ community members would never, ever be used in campaign materials by a candidate with a spotty track record of supporting the LGBTQ community.

      Comment by Lauren Do — June 6, 2017 @ 8:07 am

  5. The real significance of today is that it’s the anniversary of D-Day. No Google Doodle for it. But worth remembering that there would be no LGBTQ rights whatsoever if the Axis had won the war.

    Comment by vigi — June 6, 2017 @ 10:07 am

  6. Lauren deserves a Bloggie, or the equivalent award (like a Tony) for her clever (if obvious) header for today’s blog. Not so obvious I would have thought of it. Some days it’s worth coming here just to read the header.

    Comment by MI — June 6, 2017 @ 11:33 am

    • Not so obvious that I would have thought of it either, but #7 reminds that calling it the “Tony” award is about right. The backstories don’t analogize, but I do remember Mr. Daysog not belonging here at the last election because he did “not support” the senior community.

      Comment by MP — June 6, 2017 @ 2:28 pm

  7. People grow over time, and, if their growth helps bring our community together, why not support it? Years ago, Councilmember Ralph Appezzato balked at the idea of supporting a proclamation for our lesbian and gay communities. As Mayor, to his and our island’s great credit, he came to understand the importance of recognizing the contributions of gay and lesbian persons to our city, and supported issuing a proclamation. So, let’s put differences aside and unite to celebrate June as LGBTQQ month.

    Comment by tony daysog — June 6, 2017 @ 11:44 am

    • If I recall correctly, the first time a Gay Pride proclamation came before the city council, tony daysog was on that council, and the proclamation died without a second. If I am wrong I would appreciate the correction. And the difference between Appezzato and Spencer is he ended up supporting a proclamation. Trish has balked at issuing one during her term.

      Comment by notadave — June 6, 2017 @ 12:41 pm

      • No, first time it came before Council I think was 1993 — could have been 1994. I got on Council in Nov. 1996 largely with the support of Alameda’s LGBTQQ community and like-minded people. Working with the LGBT community, Councilmember Karin Lucas, and me in 1997, Mayor Appezzato was the crucial third vote to ensure spouses and family members of city employees in domestic partner relationships were eligible for medical benefits. Of course, we also celebrated Gay pride month in ’97 — but I think Ralph already jumped on that in June 1996. We also in ’97 (maybe ’98) ended the prayer invocation that started each Council meeting because quite often persons who did the prayer invocations were front-and-center the same persons opposing recognition and equality of gay and lesbian persons and families in Alameda. Later, during Mayor Johnson’s first-term, I also worked with Johnson and Council colleagues and the LGBT community to change the local real-estate transfer tax rules to ensure that persons in domestic partner relations could also be eligible for exemptions from it under certain transactions like heterosexual couples. Long and short: when officials grow, our community is all the better for that, and that’s the more important point. Thanks!

        Comment by tony daysog — June 6, 2017 @ 2:18 pm

        • Then you should be encouraging Trish Spencer to offer the direct and clear apology for her lack of support while she was on the School Board if she has truly evolved and grown as an elected official.

          She caused a lot of pain through her actions and her votes. Acknowledging her error would be a step in the right direction.

          Comment by Lauren Do — June 6, 2017 @ 3:41 pm

  8. 1993 24 years ago. Lesson 9 7 years ago. Some people ‘evolved’. Others did not. Others have not.

    Comment by Retiredteacher — June 6, 2017 @ 3:35 pm


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