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    LGBTQ Americans Must Stand Together to Denounce Bigotry and Racism

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    With the recent violence and racism spewing from the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia, it is important that we stand strong and condemn bigotry, hatred, and white supremacy. Amongst the hate speech in Charlottesville, racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-gay slurs were shouted by a large group of attendees. As neo-Nazis become emboldened, we must remember that in Nazi Germany, pink triangles were used to identify gay prisoners who were sent to the concentration camps because of their homosexuality. It is time to speak up loudly against racism and homophobia, and demand that history move forward—not backwards.

    In response to the events in Charlottesville, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis sent this powerful message: “Countless LGBTQ Americans stand firmly together with other marginalized communities to denounce these disgusting threats and cowardly fear tactics. To the young Americans in Charlottesville who are LGBTQ or people of color: You are loved and you are perfect the way you are.”

    In Oakland, and throughout the nation, we must also continue to work for tangible change, to undo the ongoing impacts and disparities that perpetuate racism and injustice. This requires that we work to end disparities in police traffic stops and searches (this issue will return to the Oakland City Council in the fall), as well as to continue pressure to end mass incarceration, excessive bail and fines that are used to penalized low-income people, and other harms that disproportionately target historically marginalized communities—from air pollution, to predatory lending, to wrongful evictions and foreclosures.

    New LGBTQ Community Center to Open in Oakland

    Just as we must stand against hatred, we must also celebrate our diversity and LGBTQ pride, and continue to build supportive community. In Oakland several years ago, we convened an LGBT roundtable, which resulted in ideas to take action to expand support for our multicultural LGBT community. Through this work, important plans were made and steps taken, and volunteers stepped forward, to help build support and community.

    Thanks to the efforts of early participants in these discussions, I am pleased to announce that Oakland’s nonprofit, all-inclusive, LGBTQ Community Center HQ Office & Space opens on September 7! This space, created primarily by African American LGBT people and open to all, will provide space for events, meetings, organizations, businesses and more. It is located at 3207 Lakeshore Ave., 2nd Floor. For more details, please contact 510-282-3352 and check out www.oaklandlgbtqcenter.org

    Oakland Pride

    And, on Sunday, September 10, let us come together to celebrate Oakland Pride, a festival that has now been restored and growing for several years, thanks to volunteers who stepped forward and the urging of participants in the LGBT roundtable meetings. Oakland Pride takes place on multiple blocks of Uptown Oakland, around 20th Street and Broadway, near the 19th Street BART stop in Oakland. For more details, check out www.oaklandpride.org

    If you are interested in getting more involved in such efforts or to share suggestions, you can contact our office at:

    atlarge@oaklandnet.com

    Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016. She also serves on the Board of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and as the Chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC).