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CEO Joe Hollendoner Shares LGBTQ+ Family Values at Center Gala

The Los Angeles LGBT Center

Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner took the stage at the annual Center Gala on Saturday, using his time at the podium to respond to the right-wing narrative that the LGBTQ+ community is unsafe for children and families.

“Why fall for hate when you can fall in love?” Hollendoner asked at the top of his remarks. “I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately as the Center has been at the forefront of responding to some unimaginable acts of hate this past year.”

In the last year, the Center has responded to bomb threats, far-right attacks on LGBTQ+ groups like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and the rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation sweeping through state houses across the country. 

“But the truth is, when our political opponents are at their worst, your Center is at its best,” Hollendoner said, noting the Center’s efforts to combat the spread of anti-LGBTQ+ animus in Southern California. “But our fight doesn’t end when an election is over,” he said.

When our political opponents are at their worst, your Center is at its best.

Joe Hollendoner, CEO, Los Angeles LGBT Center

“Nearly every day, I see a new young person arrive at our intergenerational Anita May Rosenstein Campus, failed by the systems meant to care for them,” he said. “I see the Center opening our doors and welcoming these youth into a community like none other. That’s why I find it ironic that the far right has labeled *US* —the LGBTQ+ community—as groomers and a threat to young people. After all, we’re the ones who care for the children and youth that they throw away.”

Love is the thread that binds our community together, Hollendoner said. It is visible in the generosity of those who help take care of our most vulnerable, and in our ability to seek help when in need. 

“My friends, these are the LGBTQ+ community’s family values, no matter what the extremists say. … The love within our beautiful queer and trans family will ALWAYS blaze the trail forward,” he said. “Our love will always heal and liberate us. And—be assured—with the Center leading the fight, our love will win.”

Comedian and Fire Island writer-star Joel Kim Booster served as the host of the evening, which raised more than $1.6 million in support of the Center’s live-saving programs and services. Honorees included award-winning actress and singer Cynthia Erivo, the pioneering visual artist Mickalene Thomas, and the pop trio MUNA, who performed a live version of their single “Silk Chiffon” with a guest appearance by Jewel.

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