On Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, I was honored to give the following remarks as we inducted another 10 names to the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor there.
“Good morning…. Buenos Dias.
I bring you greetings from America’s finest city, San Diego, California, where we just elected our first gay mayor and first mayor of color; the Honorable Todd Gloria. San Diego is also home of the NASSCO shipyard where the USNS Harvey Milk is currently being built.
Let us first take time to acknowledge that we stand on the land of the people of the First Nation, Native Americans, and that of our LGBTQ ancestors, our two-spirited sisters and brothers.
All over the world, during the month of June, our rainbow LGBTQ global community is celebrating what happened in 1969, inside and outside the Stonewall Inn. At a time when drag queens, sissy’s, trans people, beloved bull-dykes, gay men, lesbians, and young homosexuals fought back and RIOTED against discrimination and oppression. This riot awakened a sleeping giant, the homosexual community.
Indeed, we stand on sacred ground, and as I have said so often, a community indeed, a movement that does not know where it came from or whose shoulders it stands on and does not really know where it’s going.
Thus, on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the oldest LGBTQ organization in North America, the International Imperial Court System of the USA, Canada, and Mexico (with its now 70 city chapters, was founded in 1965 in San Francisco, and the oldest LGBTQ civil rights organization) – The National LGBTQ Task Force and I founded the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor.
At our first inaugural ceremony we put up 50 honorees of our community’s pioneers, heroes, and trailblazers with a commitment to add five every year, and today we will honor five from 2020 and five from 2021.
You know the significance that this historic wall has here in a gay bar because as the churches played an important role in the black civil rights movement, so have our LGBTQ bars and we should never forget that, especially in the 1950s, 60s and 70s our bars were our LGBTQ community centers. In many ways a foundation, a gathering for our community and civil rights movement activists.
For over 50 years God has blessed me to be an activist and see the growth and empowerment of the two communities I love, the Latino and LGBTQ communities.
For we are indeed the last civil rights movement of the 21st-century and we are under attack in this second wave of the radical right’s “culture wars”. They are trying to erase transgender Americans and are introducing anti-LGBTQ legislation in dozens of states across this country.
I come from a homosexual generation of the 1950s and 60s were with a strike of a pen from a judge or your parents, and we were legally sent to state mental hospitals and subjected to electric shock treatment and lobotomies.
I come from the times of the Joe McCarthy “witch-hunts”, Anita Bryant’s save our children and John Briggs homophobic crusades. Today’s homophobic leaders have different names but they have the same goals of making us second class citizens.
But we are not the only ones on the target list, the radical extremist right is also trying to suppress the vote, take away a woman’s right to choose, and they are on the attack of our immigrant communities and standby as hate crimes rise against Asian Pacific Islander, Jewish and African-American communities.
Let me make it very clear: A hate crime against one community is a hate crime against all communities.
We of the LGBTQ community are not about building walls but extending our hands to other communities.
Today the message to the LGBTQ community from us of the Stonewall generation is: Now more than ever, we must come out of the closet and into the voting booths.
This is a call to arms, for indeed the enemy is at the gate and they are coming first for our transgender sisters, brothers and children, and then they are coming for all of us.
If you really want to honor the 60 LGBTQ pioneers, trailblazers and heroes on this wall, organize now more than ever, build coalitions with other communities, and definitely turn out for the midterm elections.
Si se puede!
Thank you and God Bless you all!”