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SGV 009: SGV LGBTQ president on El Monte’s hate church

Chris Greenspon January 15, 2021 98


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SGV Weekly
SGV 009: SGV LGBTQ president on El Monte’s hate church
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In November, Camila Camaleon was elected to lead the San Gabriel Valley’s small LGBTQ Center through turbulent times. Her pedigree in this traditional quarter of Southern California may be just what the area’s queer residents need to push for greater service and representation from the region’s Council of Governments. This episode started out as a profile on the Center’s first trans woman president, but recent news highlighted the very reason for LGBTQ organizing in the 626. 

Camila Camaleon

Last week, a hate group in El Monte’s profile rose from obscurity as a petition circulated on social media to oust the First Works Baptist Church from its physical location on Tyler Avenue. 

First Works’ spiritual leader, Delfin “Bruce” Mejia, doubled down on his Church’s values in a statement to SGV Weekly.

What is First Works’ response to the petition for the Church’s removal from El Monte? 

“It doesn’t bother me (or us) at all. I am obviously going to preach sermons that rub people the wrong way. I am preaching God’s Word, not running for office. I am not changing and I am not apologizing.”

What does the Church think of the hate group label being used? 

“Well, Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” 

It doesn’t bother me when people call us a hate group because of what I preach. Truth is hate to those who hate the truth.”

–Delfin “Bruce” Mejia, First Works Baptist Church

El Monte’s City Council and City Manager did not respond to request to comment on the following:

  • 1. What the City can do regarding the hate group First Works Baptist Church on Tyler Avenue
  • 2. Whether the City would be willing to take the Safe Space training suggested by the SGV LGBTQ Center

The SGV LGBTQ Center’s response to the growing controversy was comparatively less hot than Mejia’s, and more constructive than the City’s. Rather Camaleon and the rest of the Center’s board suggested that the City draft an anti-hatred statement of equality and have it’s employees take part in its Safe Space training. Camaleon told SGV Weekly if cities would invest in themselves in this way, it would diminish the power of hate preachers wherever they arise.

Camaleon, 26, grew up in Baldwin Park on Milbury by the Walmart. Her mother was single, and supported her children as a housecleaner. From a very young age, Camaleon was interested in organizing and pushing gay rights into straight spaces. Her college years at UC Santa Barbara focused on feminism and black studies. Two mantras emerged from her formative experiences. “When you show up to a table, remember who you’re showing up to the table with,” and “Everyday I’ll show up humbly as a student.”

The interview juxtaposes the idealism of an organization facing a new beginning, and the realism of the old threat which mandates its existence. 

To volunteer with the SGV LGTBQ Center, email info at sgvlgtbq.org

OTHER IMPORTANT NOTICES:
Make an appointment for free Covid 19 testing in South El Monte
Help pay for funeral/medical bills of YAPO singer, James Valenzuela Sr.

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Chris Greenspon

I'm a radio journalist from La Puente, California. I've worked for KPCC, KNX, and KFWB, and freelanced to many others. My specialties are human interest stories, cultural criticism, and audio engineering.

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