Richmond Councilwoman Constant Target Of Anti-gay Hate Speech

Jovanka Beckles

Vice Mayor of Richmond, CA Jovanka Beckles is the city's first openly lesbian councilwoman and was elected to her position four years ago in 2010. Since then, she's has been the target of a constant barrage of hate speech, both from members of the public and from her fellow council members. Mark Wassberg took to the podium to call her filth and dirt, and that it's ok for him to say that because of the First Amendment. Last month, Ken Davis hurled so much hate that Beckles snapped, telling him to "get the fuck out of my face," an outburst that her fellow councilmembers felt was entirely appropriate.

She even receives grief from some fellow councilmembers, though, such as Corky Boozé, who engages in shameless victim-blaming and saying that Beckles invites the attacks on herself for having a short fuse and having a disagreeable lifestyle.

She's got a short fuse. Some people don't care for her lifestyle. I don't care for it myself, but she takes that in a homophobic way. I'm not homophobic – my ex-wife is a lesbian. She says she's a black Latina. Well, you're either African American or you're not. If she's really black, then why does she throw black people out of City Council chambers for speaking their mind? She just says she's black around election time.

The absence of logic is mind-numbing. Fortunately, Beckles takes it all in stride and is actually energized enough to run for re-election. Contact Beckles here to show her support, and contact Boozé here to let him (politely) know that hate speech is hate speech, no matter how many lesbian ex-wives one has.


  1. emjayay says

    Richmond is NW of El Cerrito which is north of Albany which is north of Berkeley. Given the location, it should be a high priced suburb.

    But it was originally settled by mostly black and uneducated workers from the South drawn there in WWII to build Liberty ships, and by a big Chevron refinery. Most of the local Chevron workers who were probably all white originally historically lived in the older Point Richmond part near the refinery, which is very white and right wing. Then the war ended and many former ship workers experienced discrimination and the women couldn’t be hired by racist and men-only unions and a lot went on welfare and then drugs and you know the rest. Now Richmond is a big area of crime and dysfunction and shootings etc. The uphill east end of it is more like El Cerrito.

  2. FCKYOU2 says

    It’s amazing how little support the “gay community” gives to gay men and women of color. had this been a handsome white gay men, there would have been 30-40 posts. This is why I refuse to support the gay agenda!!!! You are the biggest hypocrites in the world!!!!

  3. gregorybrown says

    The lack of common civility toward this woman is astonishing. If he has such a “short fuse” how can she endure the verbal garbage flung her way without becoming part of the spectacle herself? As for “Black Latina”: people can define themselves as they want. And I recall reading plenty of notes in US Census reports saying that “Hispanics may be of any race”.

  4. Peter says

    This community should be greatful for anyone who is willing to work hard to better the area, Richmond really needs any color/sex person like her.

  5. pete n sfo says

    It’s awful to say, but no one chooses Richmond unless their options are limited. Still, I’m surprised at the level of stupidity reported in the homophobia, if it can be believed.

    I hope this woman has the support of the community. If the rest of the council is much like this guy, the residents have got to be grateful for Beckles. Btw… the population is mostly black & latino. lol Where has this other idiot been?

  6. ratbastard says

    Black Latina lesbian? She’s got all the bases covered. Seriously, most ‘Latinas’ in the west are Mexican or Central American, and there are very few blacks. Black Latinas are far more common in the east.

  7. ratbastard says

    Sorry, there’s got to be more to this story. Maybe she is ahrasive. That will tick off anyone, gay or straight, whether they approve of your ‘lifestyle’ or not. My bet is she is an abrasive personality.

  8. Bernie says

    It is unfortunate to hear the discrimination this woman faces….Richmond CA is a very rough city with high crime and violence…..The idea that not only her sexual orientation is at issue, but also her race and ethnic background……is inexcusable in 2014

  9. ratbastard says


    Defamation of a public personality (a politician would be considered a pu lic personality) is extremely difficult to prove in court, in the U.S. You can basically say anything about a public person in the U.S. The U.K.,for example, has much stricter libel laws regarding public persons (politicians, etc.).

    If she were a white homosexual man, regardless of his physical attractiveness or lack thereof, I would have a problem with him too, if he had an abrasive personality. Good example is Barney Frank, a gay white male ex-politician with an abrasive personality in pu lic and private.

  10. anon says

    Um, calling someone “dirt” is neither slander nor defamation as it’s expressly an opinion. It’s like calling someone a “jerk”. Both defamation and slander must involve objective statements that can be invalidated in court.

    I’m not sure the point of this article. Public figures get the verbal stuffing kicked out of them all the time. Just look at the comments here on TR. In no way should the tone of public invective be a factor in deciding and election.

    At public meetings, there’s normally a point of order before the public can speak and anyone that rants on can be called “out of order” and kicked out of the meeting. I’m not sure why these ranters are not kicked out of the meeting.

  11. ny2.0 says

    I hope she stands strong and know that she has a lot of support. This kind of treatment is totally unacceptable in this day. It’s damn well near the end of 2014 and this is still happening in America.

  12. Cadence says

    Ratbastard. that’s an appropriate name. You don’t know anything about this woman’s personality. I may have missed it, but do you have actual evidence that shows that she has an abrasive personality? What we do have evidence of is that some of her fellow council members have a problem with her sexual orientation and her ethnic background. We don’t need to rely on your assumptions that are clearly based on nothing other than the color of this woman’s skin.

  13. tinkerbelle says

    Batrastard — if you check her page, she was born in Panama (latina) of black parents (black)— who are you to assume anything about someone you don’t know? What f**king arrogance.
    Among other things.

  14. sqqueak says

    “.. elected four years ago in 2010″. Just as well you wrote that since, judging by the quality of the comments on Towleroad generally , a lot of readers could not have calculated how many years ago was 2010.

  15. stevenj says

    What surprises me the most is that the other members of the City Council allow this to go on and on and on. Corky Booze probably likes it himself but no rules of order at a city meeting?? BTW, this story first broke over a week ago on SFGate (the SF Chronicle’s online rag) and the comments on it by readers were overwhelmingly negative about Beckles’ abuse. Hopefully it will stop now that this has been finally brought to light.

  16. says

    Rowan YOU! of all people. For the record the gays only highlights Blacks who’s partners are white. Now show me one Black person that has a black partner that our community upholds and celebrate. I’ll sip this Diet Pepsi and wait for an answer that I’m never going to get. And besides with the racist comments you spew on here you have nerve!

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