Robin McGehee’s journey to becoming the City of Fresno’s LGBTQ+ liaison

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

FRESNO, Calif. — Robin McGehee made history becoming Fresno’s first LGBTQ+ liaison, as her pursuit for equal treatment continues in the face of politics.

In Celebration of Pride Month, ABC’s “Our America: Who I’m Meant To Be” explores the McGehee’s journey.

“You have a choice in a moment of conflict that you can either just take it and, succumb to the conflict, which only builds resentment,” McGehee said. “It only is going to drive you more crazy. or you can decide that I’m going to do something about this. I want to be active. I want to stand up for myself.”

McGehee recalls her experience leading up to the 2008 Presidential Election, which had the controversial California ballot measure Proposition 8 go to voters. The measure would add language to the California Constitution that defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

“All I could think about is we need to organize and show them that we’re just like everyone else, that we need to be welcomed into this society,” McGehee said.

She remembers election night vividly.

“We lost Prop. 8 on the exact same night that Barack Obama won,” McGehee said. “So it was like a sucker punch. I had my hands up here, and then my belly was like in turmoil.”

The Fresno Bee interviewed that same week at a candlelight vigil that McGehee had organized at her church, the Wesley United Methodist Church.

That interview would be seen by the priest of the church. and create a domino effect that would lead McGehee down the path of community activism.

RELATED: ‘Our America: Who I’m Meant to Be’ explores multicultural, multidimensional LGBTQIA+ community

“I got a phone call from the principal and said that she was in tears. She was like, I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but we’re going to have to remove you from the president of the PTA,” McGehee said.

In response, she pulled her son who was attending school at the church and severed ties completely.

“I swore I would never stop fighting until they felt as welcomed in the community as every other kid,” McGehee.

Joined by other frustrated parents, McGehee would organize a march onto the steps of Fresno City Hall called “Meet in the Middle.”

“The reason that was significant is because the mayor at the time was, Alan Autry,” McGehee said. “He was using the steps as a bully pulpit to speak out against our families.”

“I do believe that ‘Meet in the Middle’ showed the community, you’re not alone.”

McGehee would take her activism to the national level, co-directing the National Equality March that saw 250,000 people march in Washington D.C.

As well as founding the non-profit organization “GetEQUAL.” A group that advocated for LGBT social and political equality through confrontational but non-violent direct action.

“We highlighted the injustices. We brought attention to the bills that needed to be repealed…” McGehee said. “But we also brought attention to the fact that our movement is intersectional. We were arguing for trans rights early on, pushing different environments, about racial identity and not just being a white movement.”

Now, 15 years later, she now holds a first-of-its-kind role as the LGBTQ+ Liaison within the City of Fresno’s Office of Community Affairs.

“We want dignity. We want to be able to, you know, love our spouse and our kids and just live our life,” McGehee said.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.