Mike Aguilera, 30, is almost as ubiquitously present in Los Angeles’ LGBTQ community as his boss, Congressman Adam Schiff is in the news.
Aguilera is a quiet force in the community who has an amazing ability to work a room. At the recent Mayor’s Pride event near Runyon Canyon in Hollywood, Aguilera seamlessly worked the room, greeting people with a smile or a nod, a hug or a handshake.
He is famously earnest and devoted.
At 29 years old, as an out gay man, he joined the California Army National Guard “out of a sense of duty to democracy.” He continues to serve.
While president of the Gay Straight Alliance at Loyola Marymount University he stared down a series of homophobic incidents on campus, hosting educational events, socials, and mounting a campus-wide public information campaign to raise LGBT awareness. “Instead of shirking away from animosity,” he said “we grew and were able to advocate for a number of changes that are still in place today.”
Prior to joining Schiff’s office as District Representative, he worked for Congresswoman Janice Hahn and LA City Controller Wendy Greuel and the No on 8 campaign.
He is a member of the West Hollywood Beverly Hills Democratic Club where he serves as vice president. He is a member of the Democratic State Central Committee, where he is the vice chair of the Los Angeles Region of the Filipino American Democratic Caucus of the Party.
Aguilera says his work for Schiff has been an inspiration. “He has shown me that quality of life issues can only be considered because of our commitment to our national security,” he told the Los Angeles Blade. “Congressman Schiff has also taught me that freedom of speech, expression, and association are only possible because of men and women that work tirelessly to ensure a world where those values are upheld.”
Aguilera aims to become an Army officer. “I have grown from a kid with very little confidence, who lost his role model in life, his mother, at 17. I am now a man who sees opportunities in challenges,” he said.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Well, I had a boyfriend in high school, but I didn’t come out to my dad until much later. He was the hardest person to tell.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Jesse Brune-Horan. He taught me the importance of kindness and self-care. Through his openness, he has been able to make tangible and lasting change in the lives of so many in the LGBT community.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
Gym Bar on a dodgeball night.
Describe your dream wedding.
Stories about our relationship and making a commitment in front of those who will help us keep it. Oh, and cake. Lots of cake.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Transportation. When we get out of our own cars and walk, bike, or take rail or bus, or even carpool there are so many more opportunities to engage with one another.
What historical outcome would you change?
The federal government’s initial reaction to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The first thing that came to mind was Christina Aguilera’s music video for “Beautiful.”
On what do you insist?
I insist on generosity of spirit.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Hufflepuff!” Celebrating 20 years of Harry Potter with my Hogwarts House.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Where Did I Leave My Phone? A Reflection on Lost Items.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would ask why resources were devoted to such a thing.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in love.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Sure, a perm sounds like a great idea! But in seriousness, it would simply be to listen before you act, consider what binds us together, and think about our day-to-day worries.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That gay men are weak, and that femininity is not something to aspire to.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Shaking hands. I’d much rather hug.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
World Universities Debating Championship 2009. My debate partner and I lost in the quarterfinals, and I still think about it.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Write more. It helps me work through my thoughts and serves a great reminder later on.
Why Los Angeles?
Because it’s the greatest city in the world. I was born here, and it is my home.