John Duran has rightfully endured substantial criticism (some from yours truly) for his misdeeds in City Hall and elsewhere. That history is but one part of what makes up the fabric of a man who has been loud and proud about who is he and what he stands for in our community. He has led communities to a place of courage repeatedly in the face of the disease, social intolerance, and political roadblocks that have plagued communities about which he clearly cares.
I will never doubt that ego plays a large part in Mr. Duran’s activities, as it does and has in the motivation of many who play and have played in the public arena, whether in politics or activism or both.
While I disagree with and indeed condemn some of the unseemliness of Mr. Duran’s behavior, and his suggestion that West Hollywood is a “sex-based city,” I do applaud his audacity to proclaim himself to be and live the way that he chooses to identify, be and live. He was one of the first public servants to disclose his own HIV status, and not late in his career, but from the start. I use the word audacity, but what it really represents is courage.
While remembering the misdeeds and times where disagreement existed, we should also recognize Mr. Duran’s loud presence on the fight against HIV/AIDS, on fundamental equality, and on the specific issue of marriage equality. His commitment to the recovery communities alone is more than most people contribute to society in a lifetime. It is often John Duran who leads a crowd to action (and often tears) with his large presence on a platform and his booming eloquence on any number of issues. I have seen it for more than 20 years, sometimes up close as when we served together on ANGLE (Access Now Gay and Lesbian Equality) and then again during a time when our terms on the board of AIDS Project Los Angeles coincided.
I live in a world in which multiple truths can co-exist in the same space. I will always be critical of some actions and decisions made by any public servant (it is our duty as citizens), but such matters should never erase the totality of a person. Cancel culture is real, and it is insidious.
When seen as the complexity that is any human being, the good that John Duran has brought to many communities far outweighs the scars, even those he inflicted on himself.
Thanks, John, for decades of leadership and service. I know (and hope) that you are not finished.