Brian Pendleton, perhaps more than any other person in LGBTQ Los Angeles during 2017, defined the year. He tapped into an extraordinary zeitgeist of fear and frustration and did what he is famous for; he transformed that energy into a positive force for good and helped launch what became an empowerment movement with #ResistMarch.
It was an extraordinary display of action on his part.
#ResistMarch evolved from an angry Facebook post about Trump’s escalating attacks on civil rights, a post that went viral. Within weeks it seemed the whole city was resisting.
Pendleton began organizing. Meetings were held, intersectional committees were formed, money was raised, politicians and agencies agreed (a miracle in itself) and eventually LA Pride saw the writing on the wall and turned the iconic gay pride parade over to Brian. It grew and grew and by late spring it was clear that what was about to take place on Hollywood Boulevard would be extraordinary.
The day, June 11, itself was an alchemy that transformed not just a parade but a people. Hundreds of thousands showed up, clogging Hollywood Boulevard with a defiant but jubilant crowd the likes of which the famed street has not seen in years. From La Cienega to well past Vine, people stood up for themselves and marched the miles-long route to West Hollywood. It was as if our community had returned to its roots for inspiration and a jolt of energy as a fractured community set its differences aside and joined a movement.
“Everyone is important here. Our civil rights are under attack and we must respond as powerfully as we can….together,” he told the Los Angeles Blade on the day of the march. “Immigrants of all status, Dreamers, women who care about reproductive rights, men, people of every gender expression, every color, creed, every race and nationality. We all have a stake in this.”
Over the past decades, Brian, who is 22 years sober, honed that skill by crafting grand scale, interactive fundraising events for large charitable organizations and causes that poured more than $1 billion into medical research and patient support for people living with AIDS, cancer and other diseases.
Brian’s defiance, his love of the community and his ability to commandeer such a successful and pivotal event helped a lot of people get through a year that at times seemed perilous.
Someone find an office for this man to run for!!
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since 1990 and my Rush Limbaugh listening Republican father was the toughest person to tell. He was also the most welcoming and loving about the news. I wish I hadn’t waited so long.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
There are so many incredibly important heroes in our community. It’s impossible to say who’s been the most impactful to our movement. Of course, several at the top of the list for our larger movement for equality would be Harvey Milk, Marsha P Johnson, and Rev. Troy Perry. For me personally, Dr. Scott Hitt. When I was newly sober he took me under his wing and taught me how to be involved and philanthropic. He set a great example for how to be a good man and to pay it forward.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
Well, I’ve been around long enough to have fun at a LOT of places. For sentimental reasons, “Probe” stands out in my mind.
Describe your dream wedding.
I’ve already experienced it. I married my husband Chad Goldman in an intimate gathering on the rooftop of the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills with only close friends and family there. We were lucky to have enthusiastic support from both of our families. We married in 2008 before Prop 8 put our union in limbo.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Education. Chad and I have helped build schools in the Philippines for children growing up in poverty, helped fund the West Hollywood Library and established college scholarships for U.S. students. Educated societies generally make better choices.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would rescue Matthew Shepard from that roadside fencepost.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Too numerous to list here but most recently Hamilton! I see it as often as I can!
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Count Your Blessings
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would change Trump’s sexual orientation! Mine would remain the same.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I’m very spiritual. I believe in a higher power and the Golden Rule.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Remember the B, the T, the Q, the I, the A, the G and every intersectional member who make up our rich community.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A no-sugar-added, nonfat vanilla latte from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and a friend in need.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we’re all supposed to like movies with a cult gay following, like “The Sound of Music.” I’ve never seen it.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Milk” and “The Bird Cage.” It’s a Tie
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Long dinners. I’m an eat-n-go kind of guy.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I covet seeing our community at peace and moving forward in solidarity.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Why Los Angeles?
I’m originally from Los Angeles. I’m one of those insulated people that never left his hometown!