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LGBTQ+ Visibility in Politics: Fresno’s First Gay Councilmember with High Hopes

Posted by Sara Cooper | May 30, 2023 | 0 Comments

As we emerge into Pride celebrations for the month of June, it's important to recognize community members that identify as LGBTQ+ from different areas of the Central Valley. Incredible individuals including Councilmember Annalisa Perea of Fresno have done tremendous work to not only prioritize those in their local neighborhood but exemplify community pride and ownership from a diverse background. 

Earlier this year, Annalisa Perea was sworn into office as the first openly gay council member in Fresno County, representing District 1. She comes from a family tree of politics, with her father Henry R. Perea as the former Fresno County Supervisor and her brothers who have worked in the State Assembly and also the City Council. It can be viewed as innate that her role to serve the city that she was born and raised in as she returned after her studies, to evolve her critical position as not only as an urban planner but also as the vice president of the council.

I thought this was something not only very interesting to read about a family that not only is directly involved in politics but one that leads progression in the way that we would want nepotism to operate. This enlightened me to hear that Perea voted in for the local council as someone who is also part of the LGTBQ+ community, understanding the hardships of putting your identity out publicly onto a larger scale with possible disapproval and more severe risks. I mention this especially as many establishments, events, and constituents are being harmed on a daily basis for their existence and feel no other choice but to remain in a dimmed and even invisible position. Making that choice on not conforming to our heteronormative society has been forewarned to come at a cost, and I feel heard and seen by Councilmember Perea to be on the forefront of community, mobilizing actual change that will positively impact future generations of the Central Valley.

A recent interview with Perea from Fresno's Best that's hosted by Joshua Mattox, had covered her investments and objectives for her role in the community and what difficulties the public is facing currently and in the long-term. Topics brought up and discussed ranged from higher education enrollment, community engagement from both professionals and constituents alike, and various components of accessibility to implement into existing developments (i.e. alternative modes of transportation, new medical facilities, and weekly events for everyone to be a part of). Local government officials tend to always be on a learning basis in order to improve their leadership, and Perea's transparency granted a sense of hope that Fresno is in the right direction to thrive as the “biggest little city in the State of California.” 

Transferring back to the celebration of the LGBTQ+ community that does go beyond this summer season, centering vulnerable communities and their values does not get led on by waiting for a change to happen or believing that there are other folks to take on that job. It comes along with the responsibility and truth that ALL members of the woodworks bring in their strengths in shifting the environment as inclusive and sustainable for the common good.

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