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Guest Editorial: Building bridges at breakfast

Posted: May 26th, 2017 | Guest Editorial, Opinion & News | No Comments

By Omar Passons

Like most regions, our San Diego community cares deeply about helping others. In any given week you can attend a special breakfast reception or dinner gala to raise money for various causes and celebrate important aspects of our community.

One of my favorites of these events is the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast. This year’s breakfast was on Friday, May 19, and this year I heard something so wonderfully profound, yet so simple, I thought I’d share.

Truthfully, the first thing I heard was Queen Bey blasting through the speakers, which let me know the party was going to be a good one — even at 7:30 a.m. in the morning.

But then as the breakfast got underway I knew I’d be in for something special because one of the first things they did was invite all the current and former LGBTQ elected officials in San Diego County to come to the stage.

This group couldn’t be described with just one set of identifiers, they represented different races, complexions, genders, and ages, and this diversity was an important theme that emerged a few times during the event.

I’ve been advised by my wife that sometimes I meander too far off the key points, so while I won’t get sidetracked by Bishop Yvette Flunder’s remarks at the breakfast (she received the Champion of Equality award and was remarkable), if you are unfamiliar with the dynamic woman, please consult Google today.

I’m going to focus instead on the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Cleve Jones.

I can’t tell this part of the story without giving a little background. Jones escaped his early life in Phoenix and traded it in for being what he described as a “street kid” in The Castro in San Francisco in the early 1970s.

He got to know Harvey Milk in those days and during his remarks at the Diversity Breakfast, he took a moment to remind all of us that Milk was just as flawed and subject to human foibles as the rest of us. And that he was a truly kind man.

But just after he reminded us “killing a dreamer does not kill a dream,” he said something that framed an issue in a way that I think is really important.

As he brought his remarks to a close, Jones said that members of the LGBTQ community are old and young and black and brown and white and rich and poor and in every family and every geography across the globe. His point? That because the LGBTQ community is represented within all of the other “groups” in our society, it is uniquely positioned to build the bridges across our human divides that can help us heal and move our society past its divisions.

Like hundreds of others in the room, I rose to my feet as Jones closed his remarks. And as I clapped just a bit harder and longer than I normally do, I felt a sense of joy as I thought about the shift in our collective consciousness that his words might bring about. A truly wonderful moment.

—Omar Passons is a resident of North Park and a candidate for the District 4 seat of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Find more at omarpassons.com.

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