In two weeks Stonewall Young Democrats will be having its Hero Awards fundraiser… and to a larger extent August 28th will officially mark the 6 Year anniversary of Stonewall Young Democrats. I looked through my digital photo album to see what we should use in our photo gallery exhibit of the organization’s history. And after looking at over 2,000 photos I’ve taken I can’t believe it’s 6 years later now. Grief, where does time go?
I remember when I was in my second year at Cal State Northridge in the fall of 2002 when Don Brewster visited our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance meeting to try to recruit college students for Stonewall Democratic Club. Go figure I was the one drawn since I knew I couldn’t stay in college forever and be a student leader til I die. A year later he asked if I wanted to be on the Stonewall Democratic Club Pride Planning Committee, which I did.
When I was on summer break in 2004, Don emailed me to see if I was interested in joining a youth-oriented version called Stonewall Young Democrats. I remember when I went to my first meeting at a house on Highland Avenue and met 3 people: Brian Davis, Mike Vorndran, and John Cleary. They were planning an event at the time and I was barely getting a grip on what the hell they were talking about. The rest of that summer, and pretty much 2004 went by in a big blur with a Marriage Equality rally on the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica Blvd, ‘volunteering’ our SYD founding president into an unorthodox and creative way to raise money for the club, and ending with our first SYD elections after the 2004 elections.
The next 6 years pretty much became one big haze for me at that point, with John Cleary serving two years as SYD President, then being succeeded by Mike Vorndran, followed by Len Nguyen, and then by Shirin Buckman, Shawn Amsler and now with our current president Chris Braun. We fought the in the fight for Marriage Equality, helped to elect LGBT allies, confronted the LAPD when they were baiting gay men into being arrested for lewd conduct, and tried to make a difference all while dealing with growing pains, internal differences, and finding our place in the county political process.
But after six years, SYD is well established within the political arena, the kinks have been ironed out, and pretty much know the generalities of LA politics. We have made a name for ourselves in the Los Angeles area and is seen as an established Democratic Party organization. And yet looking back at the early years, I somewhat miss doing some of the more guerrilla-like tactics that brought SYD to where it’s at today. I think I miss the thrill of being the scrappy new organization being creative and taking more risks than usual to play with the establishment in LA County.
But I wouldn’t trade the valuable experience and lessons that we’ve learned as a group becoming the SYD we are today. Even though the political and cultural climate is different than 6 years ago, we still have a long way to go. Between Marriage Equality, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Employment Non-Discrimination, Immigration Rights, and numerous other issues Stonewall Young Democrats has enough to tackle for the next few years. Hopefully after looking back, we can all say we helped contribute to making a world closer to a place we can feel safe for the next generation of activists. After all, the one thing we can’t change or influence is time.
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Last 5 posts by Michael C
- And the Kids Should be Alright... - February 15th, 2011
- ONLINE Membership Drive for Stonewall Young Democrats - December 13th, 2010
- Say hello to our new officers! - November 15th, 2010
- Some things never change... but some remain the same - September 28th, 2010
- Rapid Response Alert - Meg Whitman in LA - 8/12/10 - August 11th, 2010