Hope for the future

Javier Gomez and Mark Segal.

Last Wednesday at the White House Pride Reception, it wasn’t the Vice President, President Biden, or even the incredible Dr. Jill Biden that gave me hope for the future. It was Javier Gomez, who received the honor of introducing President Biden. After the introduction, President Biden spoke to all of us in attendance and signed the most comprehensive executive order on LGBT protections and inclusion in history. Even after all that, the introduction still stood out to me.

So how do you get the honor of introducing a President? And who is Javier? A few months ago, as he was about to turn 18, Javier was president of his Miami high school’s Gay Straight Alliance when Gov. Ron Desantis began to push for his “Don’t Say Gay” law. Rather than stay silent Javier began to organize, lobby for, and hold student walkouts to protest the law. He wanted his fellow students to join him; and they did, not only in Miami, but across Florida. Thousands of students walked out of class from almost all sections of Florida. Never could he expect that it would lead to him introducing President Biden.

His first line was “I’m an 18 year old, proud, Gay, Venezuelan American from Miami Florida.” He went on to say how hard his coming out was: he was mocked, bullied, and told he was effeminate. It was a teacher who saw what was happening to him and helped him through that tough period of his life. 

The “Don’t Say Gay” law will keep teachers from helping other students with that part of their life. How can someone say they’re being bullied without saying the reason why? It’s that one word, gay. And now as proud gay man, he’s fighting for the next Javier. He ended his speech, with “when we lobbied those state representatives, we looked them in the eyes to say ‘it’s okay to be Gay.’ We deserve respect and until we get it we will fight, continue to fight, fight for liberation.” 

My first time at a White House reception was during the Administration of Bill Clinton, long before Javier was born. That first time was historic, and all of us there were in awe. Being at the White House that first time was something I could not have ever dreamed of when I was 18 years old and organizing protests at Stonewall. And today, an 18 year old was introducing the President of the United States because he too had organized protests. That resonated with me. 

To view Javier Gomez’s speech, visit https://www.c-span.org/.