Transgender activists and allies including the TransLatin@ Coalition, the United Woman’s Coalition, and All Black Lives Matter have come together to plan protests against West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran.
The impetus for the protests is Duran’s criticism of the painting of the transgender flag in the middle of the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards the night before the June 14 All Black Lives Matter protest march in West Hollywood. That intersection, which features two rainbow flag crosswalks, is widely viewed as the entrance to “Boystown,” a term used to describe the gay nightlife district of West Hollywood. But those involved also have cited Duran’s demeaning description of a young man because of his Asian ethnicity, allegations of inappropriate advances by him on young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, his apparent support for Ed Buck, his reference to himself as a “person of color,” and his positioning himself as the “mayor of Boystown,” which some members of the LGBTQ communities see as unaccepting of those who aren’t gay.
One of the organizers, whose name WEHOville agreed not to disclose because of his relationship with the city, said times and locations of the protests are still being decided. He said they may include an appearance outside the building at 9200 Sunset Blvd. that houses Duran’s law practice, or outside his apartment building on Harratt Street or at the July 6 City Council meeting. (However, the “Enough Erasure Trans Rally” planned for 1 p.m. tomorrow at Sal Guarriello Veterans Memorial was cancelled.) The organizer said the protests will be relatively spontaneous and not heavily promoted in advance.
At the June 15 City Council meeting, which was a virtual meeting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duran was critical of the fact that the transgender flag was painted in the intersection by people who hadn’t sought the city’s permission to do so. That intersection was the official end point of the June 14 march, and the city removed the transgender flag image the next week. Duran and others were critical of the fact that members of city boards and commissions participated in the painting of the flag and that Mayor Lindsey Horvath was on the scene while it was being painted and made no objection. Among those involved in the painting were John Erickson, a member of the city’s Planning Commission and Alexis Sanchez, a member of the city’s Transgender Advisory Board. Erickson is a candidate in the campaign in which Duran and Councilmember John Heilman are running for re-election on Nov. 3. Duran’s statements resulted in a demand by the United Woman’s Coalition that he resign from the City Council.
In a text conversation with WEHOville, Duran noted that he was the only City Council member to have appointed a transgender person to a city commission (Desiree Sol to the Public Safety Commission). He also said that he had worked with former City Councilmember Jeffrey Prang to have a transgender flag flown on the mast at the triangle at the intersection of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica boulevards.
Black organizers of the planned protests, who also spoke on condition that they not be named, objected to Duran’s references to himself as a “person of color.” That term generally is used to describe someone who is not a white non-Hispanic. Some people do identity as white Hispanics.
While Duran has faced and continues to face pushback from LGBTQ minority group and Black activists who rallied to demand the arrest of Ed Buck, he continues to get financial support from major real estate developers and to be embraced by leaders of the LGBTQ communities. On his Channel Q online radio program he has hosted Lorri Jean, the CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center; Richard Ayoub, CEO of Project Angel Food; Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami; Lucia Chappelle and Keith Mozingo of the Metropolitan Community Churches, and Chris Bowen, a member of the Stonewall Young Democrats.
As of Dec. 31, 2019, the largest percentage of the $108,000 in donations (35%) to Duran’s 2020 re-election campaign has come from real estate developers and those associated with them, including lobbyists, lawyers, architects and contractors. Today is the deadline for making donations (which are limited to $1,000 per donor) that will be reported on July 31. Those real estate development interests include a lawyer with the firm representing the owner of the 8500 Sunset project, whose use as short-term housing Duran supported; the managers of Townscape Partners, developers of the 8899 Beverly Blvd. project, and Simon and Daniel Mani, owners of major office buildings on Sunset Boulevard who also are known for their significant contributions to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.