Opinion: John Duran Should Confess, Apologize and Move Forward

I remember back in 1984 when a gay majority was elected to West Hollywood’s first City Council.  There was reaction from around the country and around the world, not all favorable by any means, although other gay communities were ecstatic and there were accolades from around the world.

west hollywood city council
John Duran

However,  I read many comments from various places and publications, suggesting that gay people were undependable, sexually promiscuous, engaged in “sinful” behavior and were a bad influence on our country’s youth. They said that  gay men and women couldn’t manage their own lives effectively, much less manage and build a city.

They were wrong of course, but the  first blow to our reputation and credibility as a gay majority came when the city’s first mayor, a lesbian named Valerie Terrigno, was forced to resign, in 1986, after being convicted and sentenced for a crime she committed while on a previous job that had nothing whatsoever to do with her position on the City Council.  However, Terrigno tried to use “homophobia” as a defense and claimed she was being attacked because of her sexuality. That premise was rejected, but I think it was particularly unfortunate that  this very undesirable public event occurred so soon after our first election. It has left it’s blemish on our history. 

That incident alone was difficult enough for the community to endure.  But then Jeffrey Prang, another gay then-council member was accused of sexual harassment while on a trip for the city and ended up causing a $300,000 settlement payout by the city. Although Prang’s behavior was another blot on the City Council’s reputation,  I understand that Prang was contrite and publicly apologized and moved on with no further such misbehavior. Terrigno and Prang were  both held responsible for their behavior and each paid in their own way.

The John Duran “Deputygate” debacle and the subsequent sexual harassment accusations are an entirely different story. Apparently Duran felt entitled to the $500,000+ payout by the city as a result of his sexual misbehavior, and it seems he learned no lessons in controlling his excessive sexual urges, but continued to impose his aggressive sexually suggestive behavior freely on any other man he chose and under whatever circumstances he chose and wherever he chose, with no limits and no apologies, according to the current allegations and accusations.

I’m no expert, but I believe there is a potentially effective therapy for sexual addiction, although I don’t know if there is any such therapy for self-defeating narcissism that leaves one oblivious to the reality of their own behavior and to deny responsibility for the harm they impose on others or if they would even acknowledge their need for such treatment. Or even that there was anything wrong with their behavior in the first place. 

I have respect for Duran’s strong and effective leadership in and for the gay community. I’d always hoped that the good from his leadership outweighed the not-so-good. I know he has done good things for many and has been an asset to West Hollywood itself in numerous ways. It’s very unfortunate that his professional and political skills and abilities have come to be overshadowed by his unwelcome sexual impositions on other men.  It’s simply wrong and it needs to stop.

Duran also must stop “promoting” West Hollywood  as a “sexually entitled” city. It’s not true,  and it’s another unnecessary embarrassment.  I also think a lot of Duran’s holier-than-thou behavior is a result of his monumental ego, for which there is no match on this City Council,  although it’s quite common in politics in general.  I won’t compare him to Donald Trump as many already have, as  I’m sure that comparing him to a president – any president – would only puff him up even more. Presidential, John is not.  But, once again, I very much appreciate Duran’s sincerity in his dedication to looking out for the best interests of the gay community, including the rejected and oppressed.  That’s still very important in these days of continued discrimination and suppression of gay rights.

This, in the final analysis, is not about John Duran but about what’s best for the city. Still I don’t think Duran should resign from the Council as of now. I know he loves this city and I think he still has much more to offer in additional years of community service provided he behaves himself until he is termed out. I think Duran should, once and for all,  make a well thought-out public apology, accept full responsibility for his past mistakes with a promise that it will never happen again.  He owes that particularly to his loyal constituents who keep reelecting him and to the city that entrusts him with its reputation and wellbeing. 

Failing an apology, or failing to make and live up to an apology and promise, it’s curtains for Duran, and he’s toast. I believe the choice at this point should be his.  In addition, I don’t exactly see a promising lineup of qualified future candidates waiting for their cue from the wings. I hope that changes, but so far it remains. So for now, we need to make the most of the bird in the hand over the  two in the bush, even in volatile political situations such as this.

  1. Recently learned that his love of horses is matched only by his quoting of Richard III.
    Proving one can be an animal lover and a scholar without being a gentleman.

  2. I wonder if this author has read todays Times & if so, is he is still sympathetic to this man’s travesties against men. Every day it gets worse. No sympathy from me, that’s for sure.

  3. This could be either a good or a bad suggestion. Bad that Duran would keep his seat, good that an apology might remove some of the stench of his presence & make him more tolerable to the public, however slightly

  4. Egoistic to the point of absurdity. Duran is a caracature of what he believes he is. Can anyone imagine getting a text on Grinder or anywhere else saying “do you want to suck to mayor of West Hollywood’s dick?”. Ugh. Crude and pathetic. Not exactly a turn on. I’m very much against making anyone the object of derision but by touting his conduct he’s making all of us the object of derision and we have a right to respond in kind.

  5. I think Woody’s made a common sense suggestion but I’m afraid Duran may be a little short on common sense. If only he could see himself through other peoples eyes he might have a little more humility.

  6. What worries me about the current crop of torch-wielding villagers is that most are propped up to run a campaign during the upcoming election cycles!

    In the Frankenstein classic most torch- wielding villagers were later elected to public office.

    Duran has done amazing things in his capacity as mayor. I’m sure he will do the best he can for West Hollywood from here on.

    I wish him well during this difficult health crisis. He has my vote!

    Blessings John!


  7. hearing about all these payouts by the city really makes a guy wonder if there are other incidents and deals that get covered up at city hall. do these payouts only come to public knowledge when there’s a lawsuit that exposes them? this is taxpayer money, right? shouldn’t we know?

  8. Apologies mean nothing these days. People have apologized for things they did 20+ years ago and it means nothing. That’s where we are.

  9. Woody loves West Hollywood as much as any of us. We all hurt when something we love is being dragged through the mud in the media. I’m sick of all this crap. It’s overwhelming all the good we represent, and all the goodness of our community.

  10. This is a rational idea (which I doubt would ever happen) and could start the process of healing more than one community. However, I disagree with the author’s vision that there aren’t qualified candidates in the future lineup. There are at least four in the current crop of challengers.

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