John Duran to Step Down as Chair of Gay Men’s Chorus of LA

John Duran is stepping down as chair of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

John Duran
John Duran

The decision by Duran was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.  Duran, who is the mayor of West Hollywood, has said he will leave GMCLA this summer, the end of its 40th season. He has served 20 years with GMCLA, which puts on concerts and also has programs that support students in schools and juvenile detention centers across Los Angeles.

Duran was accused this year of putting his fingers down the waistband of the underwear of chorus member Jason Tong while they were changing clothes during a GMCLA performance in Glendale. Tong’s complaint about the incident led to GMCLA hiring a private investigator to look into it.  The investigator reported that he couldn’t find evidence to support the allegation by Tong, who quit the organization.  Duran denied that the incident took place.

GMCLA also has investigated allegations by another young man, reported by WEHOville last week, that Jonathan Weedman, the chorus’ executive director, forced him to have oral sex.  Weedman has denied that allegation and a private investigator said he couldn’t find evidence to support that.

WEHOville has obtained copies of online messages between members of GMCLA including allegations of sexual misconduct from another chorus member that led to his quitting the chorus.  The messages include discussions about how to force Duran and Weedman to leave the chorus.

GMCLA held a meeting on Jan. 28 at which these issues were discussed.  But some of those who attended the meeting criticized Duran and Weedman’s handling of it.

“Executive leadership, you had but one job, to be gut wrenchingly honest and transparent with the stakeholders of this chorus sitting in a circle in those chairs Monday night,” said a message from member Scott Daves.  “You failed. Instead you went into CYA mode and closed ranks around the good ol’ boys network, and in doing so, have lost the faith and trust of myself and apparently, a sh-t ton load of members.”

“It is now too late, those named by WEHOville MUST resign if we hope to start to heal and move forward. You TWO are too big of a liability both by association as well as the potential financial liability.  Consider yourselves impeached, follow Nixon’s lead, don’t force a vote.”

Duran has faced other allegations of sexual misconduct.  The City of West Hollywood in 2016 paid $500,000 to Ian Owens, Duran’s former City Hall deputy, to settle a lawsuit in which Owens claimed he was sexually harassed by Duran.  Both Duran and the city denied those allegations.  A private investigator hired by the city found no evidence to support the allegations but did report that Duran was known for making sexually inappropriate comments to city employees.

Duran is one of three gay members of the City Council and is known for being open about his sexual behavior. He has an account on Grindr, the sex hookup app for gay men, and is well known for his interactions there. During a trial over charges by former Council deputy Michelle Rex that she lost her job because of a decision inspired by the Ian Owens incident, Duran was questioned my Rex’s lawyer about allegations about his conduct.  Duran defended his openness about his sex life, saying that West Hollywood’s history was one of sexual liberty, whether on the Sunset Strip or Boystown, the gay nightlife district. “Sexual discussions that happen in West Hollywood you’re not going to see in West Covina, but it’s pretty common in West Hollywood,” he said.   In a recent broadcast of a radio show that he hosts, Duran said of a proposal for a program to help sex workers: ““This would be really good for West Hollywood because we are a sex-based city.”

The City Council last night voted to effectively extend Duran’s 12-month term as mayor of West Hollywood for four months, meaning it will expire in September 2019. The vote came as part of a decision to realign various city appointments and terms as West Hollywood moves its city elections in 2020 to the state general election date.

Another issue GMCLA faces is financial. A review of its federal tax returns shows that revenue, which had been growing steadily over the past five years, in 2017 fell 21% to $1.36 million. It was in January of that year that GMCLA hired Weedman, former senior vice president of the Wells Fargo Foundation, for the executive director’s job. GMCLA also saw a 7.5% reduction in expenses in 2017. But with the decline in revenue, that still left the organization with a loss of $227,000. GMCLA’s IRS 2018 tax return is not yet available.

Under Duran’s leadership, GMCLA has attracted donations from companies that do business or seek to do business with the City of West Hollywood, leaving some to wonder whether that would affect Duran’s votes on issues involving those companies. Duran has said that his decisions on city matters are not influenced by whether or not a company donates to his favorite charitable organization.   Among the large donors have been Athens Services, the trash pickup company; Wells Fargo, the city’s bank; and Combined Properties, the real estate developer. In recent months, while a city-appointed independent group evaluated applications for cannabis retail licenses, several cannabis retailers also began contributing to GMCLA.


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L Hemsley
Guest
L Hemsley

Duran says this is a “sex-based city” because he wants it to be a sex-based city.
He also wants X-rated entertainment tents for the WeHo’s Halloween Carnival.
We get the picture, we know what you want, but it doesn’t excuse sexual harassment and it’s a horrible look for city council.

My Eyes Hurt
Guest
My Eyes Hurt

Perhaps he could attend therapy with Harvey Weinstein and Les Moonves and the hoards of other creepy folks….they’re really all the same. Please Wehoville stop publishing photos and just put a name tag “in place of”…..Duran and Buck.

My eyes hurt!

Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D. (Historian)
Guest
Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D. (Historian)

John Duran:

Just resign.

Ty Geltmaker

hifi5000
Guest
hifi5000

I agree with Steve Martin,Alan Strasburg and kab1200 on their takes about John Duran. Continuing as a councilman, with the many points of allegations, representing one of the most progressive cities in California does not help his cause and is bringing ridicule upon himself.He needs to seek help for his problems and not subject the city to any more craziness. Even stepping down temporary should bring relief. On another point,just because someone is gay does not automatically mean that person is a sex addict.That Mr. Duran is pushing this belief is bizarre. I laughed when I read in the comments… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

I agree with you with and I am in no way defending Mr. Duran, but we do have at least 8 sex shops and at least two totally naked (women) dance bars. Many bars were guys dance in very skimpy underwear, Plus we have a Adult theater with one big room and several smaller rooms where people engage in public sex. Yes, I have been there and to see what goes on there. I would never make a comment based on hearsay. I don’t have a problem with all those businesses, but to pretend we are Puritans is quite absurd.… Read more »

Lack of good judgement
Guest
Lack of good judgement

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
The problem is not sex.
The problem is lack of good judgement, and an ethical sense of behavior. …learly analagous to the author and John Duran.

Chloe Ross
Guest

When you hear hoofbeats – it’s simply WeHo’s mayor looking for horses.

Innocent Horses
Guest
Innocent Horses

Ohhhhh!

Please don’t get some innocent horses into this awful mess! He can walk out of Dodge.

Bad Bill
Guest
Bad Bill

Lurch the lech strikes again.

This guy is a never ending scandal and an endless embarrassment. Does this community have any standards at all ???

One word: RECALL !!!!!

Elaine F.
Guest
Elaine F.

It is time the all the candidates running for West Hollywood City Council demand that John Durand resign immediately.

Besides the LA Times, the Advocate and LA Magizine covered this. West Hollywood is beginning to look like the sleeze capital. Great image for the “Creative City!” It’s becoming embarrassing to say I live here after the Ed Buck racism deaths, the Stormy Daniels key to the City and now the mayor making a mockery of #metoo.

e-ric
Guest
e-ric

Duran’s problems such as the Weho Deputy and this GMCLA problem are probably the tip of an iceberg, as reports have been circulating about him for years. It’s astonishing that Duran could state about a program to help sex workers: ““This would be really good for West Hollywood because we are a sex-based city.” Really?This suggests a profound blindness to today’s standards, mores, protections for the LGBT community and the deeper, broader relationships that those protections afford. As a Councilman of this particular city and California Attorney, one would expect him to be very sensitive about these matters. Where is… Read more »

Horatio
Guest
Horatio

It’s time to oust the incumbents up for reelection on the West Hollywood City Council. Meister, Horvath, and D’Amico are complacent in issues that have long plagues John Duran’s tenure as mayor or council member. If we want to see real change in our city, we need newly elected leaders who not allow these kinds of scandals to continue to plague the city of West Hollywood. That’s why Brendan Hood, Marquita Thomas, and Sepi Shyne will have my vote. It’s also about time the city of West Hollywood had some diversity on their city council which includes women of color.… Read more »

Wesley McDowell
Guest
Wesley McDowell

I may be wrong, but didn’t Wehoville which originally brought this news to light, also say that the executive director was under investigation? If that is correct why is that not mentioned in the LA Times article? He comes off looking like the hero here but may be just as complicit as John Duran.

Mr. WEHO Johson.
Guest
Mr. WEHO Johson.

THE CITY Of WEST HOLLYWOOD is FINALLY realizing that Duran is a big liability and it is willing to keep an eye covered for another few months. HE ONLY GOT re- ELECTED because most people that vote in WEHO are older people that only lookout for their on interest commercially and their own agendas and because gay young people don’t vote! IT IS WELL KNOWN THAT DURAN, among the gay nightlife circle and gay online apps, had been abusing his position under the umbrella of power (protection of business names) and by his homosexual way of being (his gay peers… Read more »

John G
Guest
John G

Wow. So he is troubling enough to have to step down as head of the Gay Men’s Chorus, but he is okay to remain the mayor of the entire city of West Hollywood?

As someone from outside your town, gotta say — your City Council’s seriously messed up.

Nobody Cares
Guest
Nobody Cares

Yep…more unknown scandels…much more. Shhhhhhhh……

Kasey
Guest
Kasey

As a former and hopefully soon-reinstated West Hollywood citizen, I’d be livid and embarrassed to have the state- and nationwide perception of our city reduced to being basically an inhabitable brothel. No, John. There’s much more to the history, community, and deeply held values of West Hollywood than grabbing headlines, reenacting Oscar-winning films with the chorus, and waving off sexually aggressive or inappropriate behavior, especially in the workplace. Perhaps “the honorable mayor” Duran should try figuring out what honorable behavior looks like before brazenly slapping that title in front of his name. And lord knows others involved in WeHo’s governance… Read more »

Awesome Weho
Guest
Awesome Weho

After the sex scandal that cost the city $500,000 and him $0, only 27% of Weho voters voted in the 2017 city council election. And he won. John Duran is the politician we deserve.