The barrage of media coverage over the allegations against Mayor John Duran is tearing apart the fabric of our community. You can see it in the biting commentary (albeit it much of it anonymous) on the pages of WEHOville. We see it all too often in the vitriolic lobs between friends on social media. Supporters and detractors alike conflate and deflect on facts and reality. This is a sad commentary on the small-town politics where friends are becoming political adversaries.
This can stop.
I applaud and celebrate John’s decades of activism. Indeed, I served with John on the boards of ANGLE (Access Now Gay and Lesbian Equality) and AIDS Project Los Angeles. In 2002, I had a non-political professional relationship with the Republican candidate for governor, which became an informal advisory role on LGBT issues. I invited John to a summit of LGBT leaders from both parties because I knew that John Duran was the right person to have at that table. I’ve seen him roar a crowd to activism with his eloquence and sense of history. I’ve seen him march and I’ve seen him inspire. I’ve seen the passion with which he protects the recovery community, and his work to enhance and expand the reach of wonderful programs. I appreciate that throughout history it has taken a healthy sized ego to accomplish this work. We all know that Duran has just such an ego.
This is a legacy which he can and should own.
However, none of his legacy erases the stain of the ongoing and relentless drip of allegations of sexual misconduct, which in any other environment would result in calls and demands from party leaders that the principal resign. We saw it in Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers, Jr.. Both had the class and dignity to resign for the better of a bigger community. Both, I think, realized that this was bigger than their own egos. Both will forever own a rightful place in history as champions of important causes. I agree with Mr. Conyers’ assessment that his own legacy “can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now.”
Mr. Duran has, thus far, chosen intractable arrogant defiance.
The pain at the City of West Hollywood, which Mr. Duran professes to love, and the reputational harm occasioned to the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, which he also professes to love, could end today with Mr. Duran’s gracious exit from both.
The LGBTQ community, and others, would still owe him a debt of gratitude for his years of dedication, but this must come to an end, and he alone can make that happen.
This can end with Mr. Duran’s deserved legacy intact, but first our communities must heal.