Opinion: Why I’m Saying Goodbye to LGAB after Five Years

James Duke Mason

At the (virtual) Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board meeting last Thursday night, I shared the news that I was stepping down as a member of the Board after five years of service. October marked half a decade serving the residents of this great city. It has truly been the honor of my life to work with some of the fine advocates and public servants that have served with me on LGAB since I joined in 2015.

Given the election results both nationally and on the local WeHo level, I thought this was the right time for a new beginning for me as well. I thought about seeking re-appointment from one of the other councilmembers, but just felt that this was a good moment for a transition and also to allow for someone else to have an opportunity to serve and lead.

I intend to continue fighting for our community, and am even open to serving on another advisory board or commission in the future. As I said after my campaign for City Council ended last year, this is just the beginning in terms of my public service and involvement in politics. After all, I’m not even 30 yet, so I’m excited to see what possibilities lie ahead.

I will always be grateful to Councilmember John Heilman for believing in me and giving me the chance to serve on LGAB. I am very sad and disappointed that he lost re-election after giving almost his entire adult life to serving us selflessly, but I am grateful for all the incredible contributions he has made to this city and to the gay rights movement as a whole. It is no exaggeration to say that West Hollywood would not be the great city it is without him.

I congratulate the new councilmembers, Sepi Shyne and John Erickson, on their victories and wish them success in their new roles leading our city. I hope, while I’m sure they will have many of their own proposals and priorities, that they will embrace some of the strengths of their predecessors and the issues that they led on, namely rent control, affordable housing, and supporting small businesses (especially LGBTQ ones).

During her campaign, Sepi said the city was too “male focused”, which was a deeply concerning comment to me as it showed a lack of understanding about what makes West Hollywood unique and special. Just like during the debate years ago when some said having a rainbow flag on City Hall would send a message of exclusion to straight people, I said then and I say now that there is enough room for everyone. We can celebrate the culture and heritage of gay men while also celebrating lesbians, trans people, the vibrant Russian community and all residents of our diverse, creative city.

I wanted to end simply by saying that the last 5 years have been an amazing experience that I will always treasure. West Hollywood is the place I was born and continue to love. I believe so strongly in the values and principles it stands for. I will always do what I can to protect it. That will never change.

Thank you.

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Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago

This op-ed, and the comments (thus far), and the winning candidates all find strength in invective and vituperation and incomplete and incoherent thought processes. West Hollywood has become a small town, with small minds. As much as I often disagreed with Heilman and Duran, I can never question their wisdom, vision and intellect. Such qualities now find a home in only one sitting councilmember.

Last edited 1 month ago by Alan Strasburg
Sean Kolodji
1 month ago

Sour grapes. Sepi Shyne received the most votes for city council for a reason: she had a message that resonated with Weho’s diverse community! So many of her supporters are gay men; the attack on her is simply absurd. That said, I, too, am disappointed that Heilman lost. John Erickson, who narrowly edged Heilman is undeserving of a city council seat–he has neither the character nor temperament to do the job well. While there are some elements of Heilman’s record that are problematic like his developer-friendly ways, his automated parking garage white elephant, and his support for unaccomplished gay boys… Read more »

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

A completely useless failson of a celebrity. Have mommy and daddy use their connections to get you a new career in weapons manufacturing or whatever these people always end up doing.

Observer
Observer
1 month ago

How many LGAB meetings did Mason not attend? I think there were quite a few, so I question his devotion to the city and the community.

Perry
Perry
1 month ago

Sepi was absolutely right on. And I say this as a gay male who’s worked to shed light on misogyny in Weho. The city (including the mindsets of most residents AND the guys who run The City) is blatantly male-focused. Always look at the perps of the bad behavior that gets excused or swept under the rug. Guys, we could have done better and should.

Kyle
Kyle
1 month ago
Reply to  Perry

I have lived in West Hollywood for 23 years. I have never seen a “No women allowed” sign anywhere. I used to work at an engineering firm and some people would complain that there were no women engineers. Point taken but most women don’t want to go into the field. West Hollywood had a solid lesbian bar at one time (Palms) but closed due to lack of interest. I am a gay liberal but your comments are just PC nonsense.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Eric Jon Schmidt
1 month ago

This OP/ED appears to be nothing more than misogynistic attack on Sepi Shyne, probably directed by Heilman. Sepi Shyne has accomplished more and has more qualifications than most people who ran and/or served on City Council. The only thing I can think of that Mason is known for is having a famous Mom. He can’t use the excuse of being young anymore for his lack of accomplishments. There are many (if not most) people who have accomplished a lifetime of experiences before the age of 30. Mason is getting a late start, but I think he is capable of causing… Read more »

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris
1 month ago

Hear! Hear!

Larry Block
Larry Block
1 month ago

Keep the faith Duke. Your day will come. Thanks for your service.

Brad
Brad
1 month ago

It’s also possible Duke knows he would not get re-appointed so he bows out and then says he’s open if anybody wants him. A very disingenuous approach. But sadly he did not say anything in his goodbye that he was proud to have accomplished. All he did was use the seat for his own run for city council.

WeHoMikey
WeHoMikey
1 month ago
Reply to  Brad

He accomplished something?!??

Kitty
Kitty
1 month ago

who?

Renee
Renee
1 month ago

This was going well until the dig at Sepi Shyne’s out of context opinion…It’s not only Republican men threatened by powerful women. It’s alive and well right here in West Hollywood. #nastywomen

Brad
Brad
1 month ago
Reply to  Renee

Sepi was very explicit in her anti male language. She comes off as a lesbian who hates men and earned her reputation in this area.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen
1 month ago
Reply to  Brad

Well, if you go back and LISTEN to what she actually said, basically, that Weho could do better by being more inclusive. But if you think differently, we could sit down at a gay bar for women…oh, wait, there AREN’T any.

Brad
Brad
1 month ago

If there are not any bars for women maybe a woman should open one and not blame the men!

Kevin
Kevin
1 month ago

The last 7 day/week lesbian bar in WeHo was Palms and it closed due to lack of interest. There are far more hetero women rushing to West Hollywood than lesbians. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is. Would you say the city of Compton is anti- white because no white people choose to live there? People go where they want to go. Most lesbians I know live in Venice or Santa Monica. They have no interest in WeHo

Mario
Mario
1 month ago

There aren’t any lesbian bars because women don’t support them! The last lesbian bar in WeHo was Palms and it closed due to lack of support. People live where they want to live. Would you call Compton white- phobic because whites have no interest in living there?

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
1 month ago

As I remember it, you were extremely critical of Heilman and a few others when you arrived on the scene, then one day you are both singing each other’s praises, best of friends. LOL

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