This week as we commemorate Oakland Pride Week (September 6 - 13), I am thinking of our families and our on-going work to ensure that every one of us enjoys life, liberty and the ability to pursue happiness.
Oakland Pride has been a tradition in my family since the festival relaunched about 10 years ago. I would bring Victor and his cousins to the festival to enjoy the family friendly event that reflected the best of who we are in Oakland.
Victor always enjoyed the festival, branching off with his cousins and friends as teenagers, leaving me behind as teens will do. Growing up in an open & inclusive church, Victor was raised to know that love is love. Despite living in the Bay Area and having a loving and close relationship with me and his dad, it was only at USC did Victor explore a full expression of his identity, where he met Michael, the man who would be quite literally the love of his life.
On March 10, 2019 Victor, Michael and a few friends were headed to an art show when they stopped at a convenience store about a mile from campus. LAPD believe they were likely attacked because they were visibly queer. In an instant, my justice work in politics collided with my personal life once again. My only-born son: Black, queer and young would take his last breath in a low-income violence-plagued community that bears that scars of our collective failure to invest in people.
As Victor’s relationship with Michael deepened, he shared with me how they were often confronted by rejection and fear doing things that young lovers do: going to the movies, dining out, walking in the park. Victor’s death exposes that our society is still not safe for queer people, and can be disproportionately deadly for those who are Black. Victor taught me that loving freely is a revolutionary act.
Each November I have joined with the LGBTQ community to commermorate the lives of our beloveds lost to violence on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Like every parent, I had hoped that to never ring that bell for my own baby. Now my hope is for this great pain to birth a greater promise: that Victor’s life, love and transition inspire parents to love fully and create totally safe spaces for their children.
I am a better, more empathetic and enlightened human because I got a chance to mother Victor. From the moment he arrived, he stayed expanding my borders. In my work on the City Council: I have advocated for funding for LGBTQ youth programming, funded transitional housing programs at Covenant Housing and DreamCatcher, supported and celebrated the Oakland LBGQT center and
If you’ve never participated in Oakland Pride, please do so this year. Let Love lead you into greater connection with your neighbors. Let us commit again to creating a world where everyone is accepted, loved and protected. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #BlackLoveMatters
Happy Pride Week, Oakland!
In Love and Service,