Activist, Los Angeles Police and Fire Pension Commissioner and #ResistMarch founder Brian Pendleton, is on to the next phase in his life post #ResistMarch. He begins his journey into the prestigious David Bohnett Leaders Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The fellowship from Victory Institute and the David Bohnett Foundation includes a three-week intensive executive leadership program at Harvard, where fellows hone skills through case studies on strategic management and leadership issues. The fellowship is awarded to already accomplished LGBTQ elected or appointed officials who are well-positioned to secure even more influential positions in government.
WEHO TIMES caught up with Pendleton a day before he boarded a plane to Massachusetts to discuss what his life is like after #ResistMarch, why he left CSW and what the next phase is for this proud resister, which may or may not include an eye on politics. We clearly have not heard the last of him.
Did you have a #ResistMarch hangover on June 12?
I was definitely exhausted. It was a lot of work by a lot of people leading up to the march. Especially the last month. There were so many details, but you know, honestly, I felt incredible. Plenty of things went wrong, but they were not evident to the public, which is what happens when you produce a live event. All of my speakers showed up and I think did a great job. I was really proud of the breadth and depth and quality of the people that spoke to our marchers. I was really proud of the diversity of the marchers themselves. The measurement that I used for success was, did our message make it outside of our bubble and it sure did. We hit the CBS Evening News. People from Tennessee and South Carolina and North Dakota, Florida, all saw what we were doing in Los Angeles. That was really important to me. It went international as well. I’m really proud of what Los Angeles did.
What stands out for you the most about the march?
Honestly that it all worked. There were no major issues and that dream of creating a very diverse, very inclusive environment came true one hundred percent.
With the website and all the branding, what will happen to #resistmarch?
People are still signing up. We’ve taken a little break, but we’ll still continue to encourage people to do other marches. There are lots of marches; lots of activities; indivisible groups—all sorts of things that sort of fit into the idea of resistance. We want people to continue to stay engaged. We want people to run for office. We want people to volunteer. We want people to donate. There is a lot of work to do. It’s nice to see a steady stream of people who continue to engage with the #ResistMarch.
So it’s not going to go away?
I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t have a great answer for that. I think it really depends on what the political environment does and how it drives us. We’re keeping a very close eye on—not only what’s going on in Washington DC, but what’s going in states around the country. Maybe we’ll export our brand of resistance where it really needs to be, like Texas, North Carolina, to Georgia or Kentucky, where people in the LGBTQ need us most. There are a ton of possibilities, but that march wasn’t even a month ago, so I don’t know.
Why did you leave Christopher Street West shortly after Pride Month?
I joined CSW because I felt it would be the smoothest way to replace the parade with a march. The march was an incredible success. It helped deliver over 10,000 extra participants into the festival. I think it really helped maybe give people a better sense for Christopher Street West moving forward. The march is over. I never really intended on being a full time forever board member. I was happy to join the board in order to make sure the march worked cohesively with the overall pride month programming.
Nothing happened that made you want to leave?
Nothing happened. Every organization has things they need to work on. Christopher Street West is not exceptional in that way. I produced the march and the march is over. I think it was a wonderful success for Los Angeles, for the city of West Hollywood and for Christopher Street West. I know that they’re out there now looking for board members. I really hope that they find a diverse cross-section of people who can come and really represent the entire community. That’s the thing that I spent most of my time doing when I came up with the March. It was meeting with people all over Los Angeles and crisscrossing Southern California to make sure that all the communities knew that they were not only desired, but invited. I hope that Christopher Street West saw that as a template for how to move forward. It should be the largest pride in Southern California.
What’s the next move for Brian Pendleton?
Brian Pendleton has two very big things going on this summer, to talk about myself in a third person. The Victory Institute awarded me the David Bohnett Foundation Fellowship to the Harvard Kennedy school of government. So they think I have the necessary equipment to become a good politician. They do that by giving you a scholarship to go to Harvard. They’ve given me some money to go to school with some other elected and appointed officials from around the country who go to learn and take deep dives into public policy. I think it’s the most well-respected school of government in the United States. I leave tomorrow to go Harvard and I will be there for three weeks. I’m really looking forward to that.
The other big phase in my life is in August I turn 50, so I’m going to Europe for two weeks. Those are the big things that are on my immediate horizon.
Any last words?
I think it’s very important for our community to do our best to be unified. We should act like our lives depend on it because our lives do depend on it. Even though we might have little disagreements with each other here and there about how we might proceed on this policy or that policy. Our overarching strategy should be to stay together. Lock arms. Invite allies. And be in this together, so when the next election occurs we can get people who think more like us in office, so we don’t have to face these terrible policies. It’s not just on the Federal level, it’s at the state level, the city level, the county level, all the way up and down the ballot. Make sure you get out there and vote and make sure you reach out to people you normally wouldn’t reach out to.