At a regular West Hollywood City council meeting on Monday, July 17, 2023, Mayor Sepi Shyne announced that the City would start acknowledging outgoing appointed officials at future council meetings. The first to get recognized at the council for their service was outgoing Public Safety Commissioner Jackie Steele who who received a plaque from the City and a Champion of Pride Award from the League of California Cities where Mayor Shyne serves as Vice President.
Jackie Steele is an event producer, an activist, and a comedian who began her service to the City of West Hollywood as a member of the city’s Bi Pride subcommittee. She was appointed by Mayor Pro Tem John Erickson to serve as a board member of the LGBTQ+ advisory board (formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Advisory Board – LGAB). She was then appointed by Mayor Shyne a Public Safety Commissioner.
“The city wants to thank Jackie for her dedicated service to the City of West Hollywood and the LGBTQ+ communities,” said Mayor Shyne. “In addition to receiving the outgoing appointee acknowledgement, Jackie was also honored by the League of California Cities LGBTQ caucus with a Champion of Pride Award. I have the great pleasure of serving as Vice President on the LGBTQ Caucus and the League Caucus has asked us to present these recognitions to our community member recipients during a council meeting.”
The Proclamation reads as follows:
Whereas the month of June is designated as Pride Month and tribute is paid to LGBTQ plus people across the nation, recognizing them for their immeasurable contributions; and
Whereas LGBTQ plus individuals play critical economic, cultural and social roles in the lives representing every race, class and ethnic background and have made historic contributions to the growth and strength of our communities; and
Whereas the League of California Cities Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer caucus wishes to recognize and acknowledge LGBTQ plus people in this great state of California for their confidence and continued persistence and leadership, thinking outside oneself while encouraging others and overcoming obstacles encouraged along the way; and
Now therefore be it proclaimed that the 2023 League of California Cities LGBTQ Caucus honors Jackie steel for the contributions that they have given to their community, their willingness to empower others and their commitments to commitment to making a difference. We honor you as a Champion of Pride and commend you for all that you do.”
Jackie received a standing ovation and from friends and supporters in the West Hollywood community.
Some her comments are below:
We talk a lot about pride, but can we say why we are proud? Can you say why we should stay proud? I am proud of my community. I do not permit them. they do not permit me because none of us need permission. I want to say a couple of things with the City of West Hollywood first, and that means all of you, not just the current electeds which come and go at the tides, not just to leaders who are fewer than they think. But to all of us. The city was built so that renters and LGBTQ+ people would have a safe space and a place to belong. We have not always fully kept that promise and we still have work to do for our community to make it a safe space.
When I hosted the anniversary for the West Hollywood Aquatic Club this year, I talked to a lot of the gay men about their history, their struggle, the incredible work John Heilman did, and the struggle that they still carry. And I thought a lot about that trauma and the duty of care that we have, same as sitting with folks of the AIDS Stories Monument to share their beautiful stories and history that they experienced, and what the city meant to them. And it means so much to so many.
That duty of care is something that we must hold. We owe that. The city owes it to the residents and guests. This council owes it, our mayor owes it; that is something that we must hold true to that duty of care. We have to recognize the joy, pain, trauma and need of others. I am proud of the people who show up who get things done.
Pickle, you probably may not know this because I’ve certainly not heard it presented this way. But that Drag Laureate Program came through the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board. It came by a drag queen by the name of Miss Tiger who has somehow been erased in this conversation. And when she fought for more money for that particular position she was called evil and she herself was dragged. I will not let that moment go forgotten and I thank Miss Tiger for her service to this city… I want to thank Robert Gamboa and Jason Frazer, all of the folks that make stuff happen in the city, the people who show up, any Board and Advisory member and Commission member who gets anything done, any Staff member who returns one more email with an already toppling plate, the Pride Committee who handles so much, Carrie, and Meghan, and Cleo, who still respond to emails and get things done with a smile and just a touch of sass, which we love.
And finally, before I exit, I just want to encourage the city to embrace our community in the fullness of community and remember that safety doesn’t look the same for everyone. Inclusion doesn’t look the same for everyone. And I ask you to think about that as you’re planning things like the Women’s Advisory Board’s 100th anniversary of the ERA. We have to remember that equal rights do not apply to everyone and hold true to that in those celebrations. Juneteenth is an LGBTQ celebration, as it should be a women’s celebration as well. We need to find a way forward working inclusively together and I congratulate the new LGBTQ+ commission. I hope they show up fiercely.
And then the final thing I want to say and thank you to this council for indulging me. To the LGBTQ community at large, how dare you? How dare you ever silence yourself for someone else’s comfort? How dare you let them tell you you’re too much. How dare you let people with no identity at all refuse to let you celebrate and live yours? We are the troublemakers the tastemakers and the brick throwers. The next time someone tells you you’re too much, you tell them, baby I am just getting started. Thank you.