A brief mention in a local paper this past week made it sound like one of the South Bay’s leading LGBT organizations is on its last leg. The 32-year-old Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee—called BAYMEC for short—endorsed no candidates and hosted no fundraising gala in 2016, Bay Area Reporter columnist Matthew S. Bajko wrote. BAYMEC President James Gonzales hadn’t even returned his calls all year, Bajko added. On BAYMEC’s website, the most recent endorsements listed are from 2014 and the most recent press release from 2015. Fly reached out to Gonzales to find out what’s ailing the longstanding organization. The short answer, he says: nothing it can’t recover from. BAYMEC is alive and well, just not as active as it once was. “We were kind of a little muted this year,” Gonzales says, adding that the group lost some momentum after landmark successes like same-sex marriage legalization. Unfortunately, BAYMEC also lost more than half its board members. Santa Clara County Public Defender Molly O’Neal, state legislative aide Tim Orozco, county employees Tony Filice and Jeffrey Cardenas, transgender activist Mark Hajduk and Mitchell Nelson, former aide to BAYMEC founder and county Supervisor Ken Yeager, have all left. Another board member, Hajduk’s brother Stan Hajduk, died this past fall. “But we weren’t completely dormant,” Gonzales says. San Jose’s District 2 council race prompted BAYMEC to speak out against Steve Brown, who publicly stated that religious freedom should allow businesses to turn away customers suspected of being gay. Brown lost to Councilman Sergio Jimenez, which BAYMEC considers an important victory in 2016. After a relatively inactive year, however, BAYMEC plans to rally the troops for battle and fill every board vacancy in 2017. “We’re getting ready for the unknown,” Gonzales says. “We’re doing a lot of recruitment right now.”
BAYMEC lost their credibility when they endorsed Dave Cortese over Sam Liccardo for Mayor. Of course Dave Cortese has apologized repeatedly for sending anti-gay mailers against Ken Yeager back in the 90’s, and I’m not saying it’s something he needs to be hounded on forever, but when it comes down to a candidate with a perfect record of supporting LGBTQ+ rights (Sam Liccardo) versus one who had once blatantly appealed to homophobic sentiment (Dave Cortese), why endorse the latter? Because under James Gonzales’ leadership BAYMEC became a labor advocacy organization rather than an LGBTQ+ rights organization.
Umm…might want to check the photo’s label. James is on the right, not left.
BAYMEC’s problems are symptomatic of other LGBT advocacy groups: irrelevance. We’ve pretty much achieved equality in important areas: employment, housing, marriage, adoption, and services. Few seem to care about one’s sexual orientation these days and social apartheid has dwindled.
Even organizations, such as law enforcement, that have been historically hostile to LGBTs and other minorities don’t tolerate prejudice. SJ’s Police Officers Association is but one example.
Instead of lamenting BAYMEC’s shrunken stature, perhaps it should be celebrated. Declare victory and mission accomplished. Then move on to more important causes that affect all of us: upward mobility and public safety are but two.
BAYMEC, like other San Jose LGBT uh…centers, are pretty weak on the L and the T. If your group, org., center is there to support people, support each–the L, the G, the B and the T–equally. For these groups to show favoritism or weakness towards certain parts of the rainbow is unacceptable and people are catching on.
That’s all these groups talk about is the T. I’m a gay, cisgendered, male. If I wanted to join a transgender rights advocacy group I would. Consequently I’ve withdrawn my financial support from all of the alphabet T,Q,I etc organizations.
Just because I’m a sexual minority doesn’t mean I feel obliged to support other sexual minorities any more than say Asian-Americans should feel obliged to support African-American interests. Or straights obliged to support bisexuals. But I struggle with what reasonable rights are being denied here or elsewhere in the US.
If I’m built like Rice University fullback James Casey (6’3″, 245#), identify as female yet biologically male, should I be entitled to use the women’s showers? Not unless biologically female in my opinion.
The anti-gun position of LGBT groups is disturbing too. Immediately after the Orlando shooting, 50+ LGBT groups signed on to anti-gun advocacy. That the shooting was subsequently discovered to be ISIS-inspired domestic terrorism didn’t matter. LGBT groups were determined to exploit the tragedy in a desperate bid for relevancy and sympathy. Fortunately, it appears the gambit has failed to resonate.
Meanwhile I enjoy target practice with straight, mostly male friends. I’ve never met a less homophobic group than firearms enthusiasts. Like you, I stopped donating money and time to LGBT groups. There are many more worthwhile causes.
“Steve Brown publicly stated that religious freedom should allow businesses to turn away customer who are suspected of being gay”.
How about addressing government agencies and businesses that turn away customers because they might be Trump supporters? Should they also be harassed, sued, and threatened with legal action?
2017 is going to be a great new year!