I’d heard his name, of course, and we’d even met for brief introductions. But when Jonathan Weedman took to the stage at a recent Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles concert at Alex Theater in Glendale, I was captivated.
His words were like a big hug, fitting the emotional context provided by a just completed passionate choral performance, replete with members’ stories about the AIDS crisis, their joys and struggles, soaring solo performances and a lively display of gaydom.
All I really knew of Jonathan was that many people were surprised when he became GMCLA’s executive director. Few knew him as a classically trained pianist, for starters, or that he longed to have music center his life.
Jonathan has been a powerful force in West Hollywood and Los Angeles’ LGBT community for longer than he would want us to tell you. Suffice it to say, he’s been around. But he wears it well, especially when escorting glamorous stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era such as his friend Anne Jeffreys.
Jonathan—who has never been in the closet in his professional life—is an award-winning business leader and philanthropist who has worked with a vast array of Southern California community non-profits from arts groups to enrichment programs. For nearly two decades, he managed and directed annual charitable contributions—exceeding $25 million—as the Senior VP at Wells Fargo Foundation.
And while the scope of his work has been wide, Jonathan’s devotion to LGBTQ life in Los Angeles has been game changing for many organizations. He is revered by many leaders.
John Duran, West Hollywood’s new-again mayor said, “Jonathan and I are both native Angelenos born 30 days apart. This means we have both been 45 years old for more than a decade. Jonathan has a great story humbly rising from being a bank teller at the bank to the center of power in Los Angeles government and cultural institutions. He has ably directed hundreds of thousands of dollars into LGBT organizations across the state of California. Before he joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of LA, he was like a gay Santa Claus bringing gifts and resources to community organizations large and small.”
On his final point, everyone is in agreement.
Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, now the world’s largest such facility, says there is a direct line between Jonathan and the community’s strength. “For decades,” she told the Los Angeles Blade, “Jonathan has been a central figure in the Los Angeles charitable world, including the LGBT community. Thanks in significant part to his professional leadership, Wells Fargo became the #1 corporate giver to worthy charities in Southern California and indisputably the top corporate donor to LGBT charities. His courageous personal leadership as an openly gay man (and in later years appearing at major public events with his loving husband, Raymundo), from a time when few corporate executives were out, has inspired countless others. Then he retired from the bank and decided to dedicate himself to working full time in our movement. For all that he has done for our community and charities in LA, Jonathan has my respect and admiration and affection.”
Abbe Land, former West Hollywood City Council member and mayor says, “Jonathan is so effective because he is an eternal optimist. He always sees the glass half full, actually more than half full. He loves music and believes that the arts can bring people together, can transcend differences and inspire people to be the best that they can be. With the belief system like that, It is no surprise that he is as effective as he is.”
Weedman has also served as a Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs; Founding Chairman of the Board of LA County Grand Park Foundation; Vice Chairman of the Board of Project Angel Food; and Adviser for the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, as well as currently serves on the Boards of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Colburn School and Inner City Youth Orchestra. Recently, he acted as Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic 2016 Hollywood Bowl Opening to raise funds for music education, and Co-Chair of the Huntington Library 2016 “Evening Among the Roses” fundraising event. Meet Jonathan.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
22, my father, who was completely unfazed.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
In awe of our LGBT elders.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
Scandia Restaurant on Sunset. Gone, and I miss it.
Describe your dream wedding.
Historic California Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento where my parents were married.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Shaking hands with Frank Sinatra, and hearing him perform his final concert.
On what do you insist?
No kids near me in a restaurant. Torture.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
The orange tree in our backyard.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Giving Back Is Everything.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
OMG stay Gay! I can’t imagine being any other way.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
The departed are always with us. Always.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
The fight for equality will continue. Don’t ever get comfortable.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My husband Raymundo Baltazar.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The ones who are ALWAYS upset about everything, but do nothing to create change. And I’m bored with all the beards… doesn’t anyone own a razor anymore?
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Sunset Boulevard,” of course.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I love social customs. It’s what civilizes us.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My Steinway piano. A dream come true for me.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
The real estate market in Los Angeles would skyrocket.
Why Los Angeles?
Because everywhere else just isn’t.