TONI ATKINS INAGURATION PARTY CA LGBT CAUCUS
1. How long have you worked for the LGBT caucus and how long have you been active in the LGBT community?
I started working for the LGBT Caucus in May of 2017.
I have been openly LGBT since I was 14 years old, so I like to say I’ve been active in the community since then. Haha! Okay, no really, when I first moved to San Francisco from Elk Grove, CA in 2005 I lived in the Castro. I had never been exposed to a community such as the Castro. I loved it! It really opened up my willingness to learn about the LGBT community I so strongly identified with.
2. Was this your original career path? If not, what was it and how does this differ from what you’re doing now?
Oh man, this is always a funny question to answer. After high school, I started to study graphic design with a heavy focus on typography. That soon turned into a career in tech as a hardware/software support technician. After many years of fixing computers, cleaning dirty keyboards, and truly enjoying the life as a techie, I was searching for something new. Fast forward to January of 2016, I am sitting at a bar in Vegas by myself while I was waiting for a friend to get off work. I sat next to this guy who ordered the exact same sample selection as I did. We bonded over this and soon our conversation turned from beer to life. He gave me this great idea to create a political app. I didn’t know a thing about politics, but I did know technology. I pondered this idea for a while and searched for people to help with this project. I ended up putting that on the back burner. In the meantime, I created another small business helping baby boomers bridge the gap between technology and themselves. It was great! You would not believe how excited people get when they learn how to use emojis or FaceTime for the first time. I could feel the ground starting to move under my feet and I was looking around for my next big adventure.
I don’t think about where I’ll be in 10 years because life will take me there and I’ll always end up where I am supposed to be. A great friend once said to me, “treat everyone like a celebrity because they are.” Truth be told, I received a text message that said, “California Legislative LGBT Caucus Consultant? You were made for this job.” I put aside my fear of attempting something I had no experience doing and went full speed ahead. I had no idea what I was getting into or what to expect, but I knew the universe brought this position my way for a reason.
3. What do you do for the caucus? Explain in layman’s terms what the caucus is and the importance of it.
My long title is California Legislative LGBT Caucus Consultant. In layman’s terms, I am like the manager/agent of the most badass group of openly LGBT elected officials California has ever seen. I’m a little bias. For real though, the LGBT Caucus is made up of 8 members, 4 women, 4 men, 4 Senators, and 4 Assemblymembers. All of which have made and continue to make huge strides within the LGBT community. When I accepted this job the Chair of the Caucus, Assemblymember Evan Low said, “this job will be what you make of it.” This year I am staffing 3 legislative bills (which hopefully become law) and 2 resolutions, along with managing whatever crazy event ideas they will let me run with. My goal for the Caucus is to become visible not only within the LGBT community but with all communities. The LGBT Caucus is celebrating 16 years this year. It’s time people know that there are openly LGBT politicians fighting diligently for equal rights and inclusion daily.
4. Explain the gravity of her inauguration.
Read this next sentence with a tone like the entire world can hear you speak and you are telling them something that’s never been said before:
I’d like to introduce you to the 1st WOMAN and 1st OPENLY-LGBT person to ever hold the highest position in the California State Senate, President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins.
How’d that feel? It makes me feel inspired, capable, and proud to be living in a time where the activism of the women before us is being painting perfecting on a canvas that was once empty.
5. What is her most notable piece of work/legislation?
She has accomplished many notable pieces in her time as a politician. I want to highlight one of my favorite pieces of LGBT legislation she championed in 2017. Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 179 – The Gender Recognition Act into law a bill making it easier to change gender markers on state-issued identification documents as well as create a gender-neutral, non-binary category in addition to “male” and “female.” Check out this quote from the President pro Tem:
“I want to thank Governor Brown for recognizing how difficult it can be for our transgender, nonbinary and intersex family members, friends and neighbors when they don’t have an ID that matches their gender presentation,” said Sen. Atkins. “The Gender Recognition Act will eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety for many Californians, and it exemplifies the leadership role that our state continues to take in LGBTQ civil rights.”
Need I say more? 🙂
6. What was your favorite part of the event?
Ah! There were so many! I loved watching people smile and laugh and have a good time. I enjoyed the high vibes. To see my vision come to life and to watch members of the community and allies dance around exuding pure joy was worth every sleepless night leading up to the event. I have to give a huge shout out to Jenn Robirds. She took the words I used to express my vision and created magic. I mean, those PRIDE letters though.
7. How did you find Steph?
The same way everyone finds anyone these days, the yellow pages. Nah, I’m kidding. Instagram! Duh! I am SO GLAD I did too because Steph and her team were AMAZING!!! I can’t stop recommending her to other people and I’ve been stopped multiple time in the halls of the Capitol by people asking, “what was the photographer’s name?” The vibes Steph carries with her are one of a kind. A true gem. Steph – Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I am so thankful you and your team were available on March 21st. Thank you for capturing history!
*All questions answered by Alina Hernandez
HOSTED BY: CA LBGT Caucus
EVENT PLANNER: Jenn Robirds Events
VENUE: The Kimpton Sawyer Hotel // Sacramento, CA
FLORALS: Thistle and Honey
STATIONARY: Little Bird Paper Company