I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about grassroots activism and community mobilizing.

As our president, his administration, and leaders in Congress work to rollback equality for LGBT people and restrict access to healthcare (among many other terrible actions), I find it helpful to remind myself how much our community has accomplished against odds that were equally, if not even more formidable. We’ve had setbacks before, but we have never let them stop us in our quest for full and complete equality.

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By Simon Costello, Director of Children, Youth and Family Services
Los Angeles LGBT Center

My day at the office typically begins and ends with the sounds of laughter and tears. That’s generally what I hear when I walk through the front doors of the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Youth Center, in the heart of Hollywood. What I always see is a line of LGBT young people who are hungry not just for food, but for a place to sleep and for the resources to build a better life. That line isn’t getting any shorter.

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By now the fact of a Trump Presidency has had time to sink in. Since the election, the Center has experienced an influx of scared and worried people. And, as the inauguration approaches, I’ve received an increasing number of calls and emails from people who genuinely fear for their rights and their country. Just a few of the questions have included:

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Center CEO Lorri L. Jean and U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff join hundreds of community supporters at a post-election rally on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

I know the results of last night’s election are shocking to most of us.

I read a headline this morning that said:

“Don’t mourn, fight like hell. Old hatreds won the day. But they can and must be vanquished.”

That’s not a bad way to think about where we find ourselves this morning.

This election cycle we experienced a battle between the two leading candidates for president unlike any other. And yesterday the country elected a president unlike any other: a man who preyed on the worst fears of our society, a man who proudly vowed to use a religious test to keep people from entering the country, and a man who ran on the most anti-LGBT platform in the history of the Republican or any party.

As tempting as it may be, fleeing the country is not a solution. Nor can we become paralyzed with grief or fear. Now, more than ever, is the time for progressive and fair–minded Americans of all parties to stand tall, strong, and together to fight for our values, for the inalienable rights to which we are all entitled, and for the well-being of the most vulnerable in our society.

At the Center, we are doing several things. We know that the consequences of the election both for our diverse LGBT community (and many other communities and values that were demeaned and threatened during the campaign) and our Center are serious. So, we are assessing the landscape if President-elect Trump makes true on his many promises. That will better enable us to develop strategies for protecting our community and our Center. And this will certainly require strengthening alliances with other progressive organizations whose missions and values are also under attack. Fortunately, the Center has been doing that work for years, but now it must be done with greater urgency and focus.

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Music chart-topper Kesha visited the Youth Center on Highland in September to film a mini-documentary called “Why I Vote.”  The 29-year-old performer, known for her hit songs such as “Tik Tok” and “We R Who We R,” met with some of the Center’s youth members to discuss the importance of voting in the upcoming election. 

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