Justine Gonzalez has her sights set high.
Nearly 10 years ago she visited the Los Angeles LGBT Center as a client for the first time. “I was in need of community, and the Center quickly became my chosen home and family. My life changed the day I walked through the Center’s doors, and I will always remember what it was like to enter a space where I felt like I could safely be myself for the first time,” said Gonzalez.
While she praises the importance of #ResistMarch, she felt the gloom and doom that had descended over the nation thanks to Donald Trump just needed to go away. So when The Glitter Run was proposed, she was eager to sign on and quickly found herself running the show. More than 2,000 attended, including hundreds of children ages 12 and under.
Gonzalez, who is transgender and identifies as femme, is originally from New York City and has spent most of her adult life in California. When not running campaigns or serving on commissions and boards, she spends her time being mom to her 3-year-old, Cecilia. But that hasn’t kept her from becoming an essential part of LGBT life in Los Angeles.
Gonzalez has served as a member of the West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board, and currently serves as vice president of the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.
She was recently honored by the West Hollywood City Council for her advocacy.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell? Well I came out twice: first as bisexual, and later as transgender. I’ve lived out as bisexual for about 8 years, and transgender for about 3.
Who’s your LGBT hero? My LGBT hero is definitely Drian Juarez. The work she has done and continues to do inspires me every day.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present? I’m a fan of rooftop views, so I’m usually down to visit Perch if I have a free night.
Describe your dream wedding. My dream wedding would be intimate, 20-30 or less folks, a rooftop bar with a nice view, and mimosas with a casual toast. We would toast at sunset and hang out for the rest of the night.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? I’m very much interested in income inequality and getting working families into good paying jobs. That issue, like pretty much every other issue facing people in here in the U.S. and across the globe, impacts LGBT people just as it does their families, allies, and people who aren’t allies to the community.
What historical outcome would you change? The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime? Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” changed my life. It was my coming out song, and being her fan was a signal to the people in my life that change was coming.
On what do you insist? I insist on approaching people with humility and kindness.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet? A thank you to West Hollywood Councilmember Lauren Meister for giving me the opportunity to serve on the Transgender Advisory Board!
If your life were a book, what would the title be? Something cheesy like: “We don’t leave anyone behind (how I broke free and never gave up on Justine)”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do? I have no desire to change anything about my sexual orientation. “Say no to the cure!”
What do you believe in beyond the physical world? I’m not sure what to believe on this. I do believe we can live beyond our physical bodies in the memories of those we love and those who wish to remember us.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders? Don’t call issues “non-LGBT issues.” All modern societal issues are LGBT issues.
What would you walk across hot coals for? The safety and wellbeing of my daughter, Cece and co-parent, Erin.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most? Stereotypes are silly in general.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie? I’ve really enjoyed watching independent LGBT films and shorts made my LGBT youth at OutSet, a program from Outfest and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. I’m looking forward to the program’s return next year.
What’s the most overrated social custom? Apologizing. People apologize so often. We’re all doing our best and doing your best to improve is something that is helpful to everyone.
What trophy or prize do you most covet? Little thank you notes and congrats are things that fill my heart.
What do you wish you’d known at 18? I wish I had known that being myself, and facing challenges as my true self would be a reward in and of itself, and that I shouldn’t let fear hold me back from living that truth.
Why Los Angeles? Los Angeles is a beautiful city. It’s imperfect, but I love it for that. It’s very ambiguous. I’m imperfect, I’m very comfortable with ambiguity. There’s a lot of love in this city, and I love that too. We’re a perfect match.