About two weeks ago, Gay Porterville submitted a proclamation that would have recognized Saturday, October 11 as National Coming Out Day in the City of Porterville.
National Coming Out Day aims to break down the walls that keep LGBTQ+ individuals in the closet. It’s a day when we celebrate diversity, and recognize the obstacles we’ve overcome in our coming out processes. It aims to inspire and give hope to those that are still feeling hesitant to come out.
Our goal was to keep this as positive as possible. We wanted to educate—to make our city a more culturally embracing community; we wanted our struggling LGBTQ+ youth to receive the message of affirmation that comes along with National Coming Out Day. With depression, anxiety, and suicide as such high risk factors for LGBTQ+ youth, this proclamation could have been a beautiful feat for the city.
There are new policies that require proclamations to receive a “sponsorship” from a council member to even be so much as considered. Unfortunately, not a single council member sponsored our proclamation. Initially, the proclamation was picked up for consideration by Councilman Monte Reyes. One week later, he withdrew his support, citing that it would just create too much negativity. Ironically, that in itself has created a ton of negativity, as our community has been let down once again.
Milt Stowe, Porterville’s new mayor, has proven to be just as disappointing. His rationale for keeping the LGBTQ+ community silent was that the proclamation was not “all-inclusive.” There’s that phrase again. This seems to be the go-to argument when council members are too cowardly to admit that they are simply partaking in discrimination. A proclamation recognizing individuals of Filipino heritage was recently issued, and hey, that’s fabulous! However, if we’re going by Stowe’s ideologies, it is not “all-inclusive.” We guess that guise for systemic discrimination only applies to us, though.
Not to be outdone as the reigning king of ignorance, Cameron Hamilton states that, “I think it does more harm than good. What they’re telling the rest of the world is ‘I’m identified by my sexuality’ which is damaging. It’s putting too much emphasis on sexual orientation. It’s over-emphasized.” By all means, Cameron, please continue to tell us what is best for our community! As a heterosexual, white, Christian male, you would know best!
Unfortunately, Councilwoman Virginia Gurrola also opted out of sponsoring the proclamation. Her reasoning is that it should not be her that always has to step up to the plate to do what is right. In some ways, she has a valid point. In 2013, she stood up for the LGBTQ+ community in a major way, issuing our Pride Proclamation. That’s when chaos ensued, the proclamation was rescinded by our bigoted councilmen, subsequently resulting in Gurrola’s removal from her seat as mayor. We do wish, however, that she would have reconsidered her stance after not a single councilman would simply sponsor the proclamation.
To sum up, Porterville’s City Council has once again screwed us over. This is why we are protesting. This is why we are getting loud. If we ever want to see any change in this city, we need to turn up the heat on these politicians, until they start doing their jobs correctly and representing all of their constituents. Enough is enough!
We urge you to join us in protest on Tuesday, October 7, at 5:00pm. We will meet at Centennial Plaza (across from City Hall). At 6:00, we will be speaking at the City Council meeting. Come out. Be seen. Be heard. GET LOUD.