Fresno City Councilmember Annalisa Perea has walked holding hands with her partner in the Tower District and gotten vulgar remarks.
“Luckily, that’s the extent to which I’ve received hate,” said Perea, the first openly LGBTQ+ member on the seven-member council.
Her response to such remarks is to simply recall the lines from poet Andrea Gibson, a strong advocate of the LGBTQ community: “Fear is only a verb if you let it be. Don’t you dare let go of my hand.”
Perea recited those lines by memory during an half-hour interview last month.
“Whether I’m holding my partner’s hand in the Tower District or in north Fresno, I cannot let fear of the what ifs when it comes to bigotry in this community,” said Perea, 36. “I cannot let the fear stop me from showing my partner love. I never will.”
Unfortunately, the LGBTQ+ community hasn’t been immune from attacks that go beyond hate speech. The 2022 hate crime report, released in June by the state Department of Justice, shows an increase in incidents against LGBTQ+ members, and local law enforcement have backed the data.
Perea sees opportunities to get the LGBTQ+ community to be more proactive in fighting hate crime, hate speech and discrimination that erase fear of reporting such incidents. Those who track hate crimes acknowledge many go unreported for various reasons, from distrust of police to self-isolation.
“I want every person from the LGBTQ community to feel they shouldn’t have to fear when it comes to holding their partner’s hand or showing any level of affection,” said Perea.
Read more at The Fresno Bee.