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COMMUNITY PROFILE: Brandon Tate-McWilliams

Brandon Tate-McWilliams is an up-and-coming leader in San Diego, who has immersed himself in the community since moving here six years ago.

The 27-year old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana came to San Diego to accept a job opportunity and hasn't looked back since!

Tate-McWilliams married his partner Kyle on August 7, 2011. The couple flew to New York to get their official marriage license, but then hosted a wedding reception with friends and family at the Top of the Park -- the same location they'd been in 2008 when they learned Proposition 8 had passed.

"We like to think that we vanquished the bad memory from that venue and paved the way for more couples to celebrate their love there," Tate-McWilliams said.

What organization(s) do you volunteer for, and why?

The San Diego LGBT Center.

The Center is the anchor of our San Diego LGBT community.

Their programs enhance and even save lives for our residents and the Center's leadership is vital for issues that affect LGBT people.

I enjoy volunteering at many of The Center’s programs throughout the year, including AIDS Walk and I’m proud to serve as the co-chair of The Center’s Young Professionals Council.

The YPC is an all-volunteer program that seeks to develop and empower young LGBT professionals and help to expand the ranks of young LGBT leaders who are ready to further equality for our community through board service for a variety of agencies.

Also the San Diego Democrats for Equality (SDDE).

I care about progressive issues and I believe the Democratic Party is in the best position to address those concerns by electing pro-equality elected officials and fighting for our justice.

The youth-caucus of this club (formerly Stonewall Young Democrats) was the first group I connected with when I moved to San Diego. I served as the president of SYDSD and now I’m proud to continue my volunteer service with the newly named San Diego Democrats for Equality.

SDDE has worked for equality in San Diego County for the past three decades, achieving vital steps for our community—like the election of openly-LGBT candidates, creation of an LGBT-district, and civil rights at the local level.

What motivates you to do the volunteer work you do?

I’m motivated by a commitment to equality and passion for social justice.

I grew up in a working family in Louisiana, where neither my parents nor grandparents went to college. I’ve fought for everything I’ve gained in life, but I recognize that I could not have accomplished any of it without a supportive network of friends and community.

Government plays a critical role in establishing this fair playing field and I believe in advocating for all the voices that are not heard, or may not have the courage to speak.

Volunteering gives me a sense of connection to my community, it enables me to give thanks and practical support to the system that helped me, and it makes me proud of my city and the people working hard to change it for the better.

Do you volunteer because of your work, or not? And what do you do for a career?

Yes, my volunteer work and career are connected by a similar passion for achieving social justice and equality.

Until this past December, I worked with Equality California, the largest LGBT organization in the state, where I was proud of the way we advanced equality for all Californians.

Recently, a new opportunity opened up for me. I now have the privilege of working with an amazing non-profit organization in San Diego that has led the region for the past 32 years in confronting the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use, and unsustainable energy: Environmental Health Coalition (EHC).

At EHC I serve as the development director and my key responsibility is helping the organization stay financially sustainable by cultivating meaningful relationships with our donors, funders, and community members.

EHC has a very rewarding work environment and I’m happy to work alongside local San Diego heroes like our executive director, Diane Takvorian, as we strive together to empower leaders and organize communities to foster a healthy, just, and sustainable quality of life in San Diego.

What is something that many people do not know about you?

Many people don't know that I can be very sensitive; although my close friends love to tease me over it. I can shed tears over things that might seem small, but loom large in my view of the world.

I enjoy being a confident leader, yet underneath I have a very tender heart—so please don’t poke it unless it’s for a good cause.

What would you like to see change in the LGBT community?

Rather than occupy a comparatively safe "silo" concerned only about issues that seem to have a direct impact, I would love to see the LGBT community come to feel as if it is part of a larger progressive majority focused on civil rights, social justice and equality for all.

This kind of true partnering with other communities strengthens our voices and unites our movements.

What do you like most about the local LGBT community?

The San Diego LGBT community functions not as separate institutions vying for the same audience, rather we work together as a true collaborative community. Our Community Leadership Council (CLC) is the prime example of this and it makes me proud of what we’ve accomplished together.

What sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life other than volunteering?

When I’m not working or volunteering (or even sometimes during), you can find me on Twitter and Facebook where I stay engaged with the politics of the day. If I’m able to turn off the iPhone, it probably means I’m traveling with Kyle. We love to travel and we visit other places as much as our lives allow.

If I’m not traveling or tweeting, then it’s my puppy Bailey and Rachel Maddow that keep me sane.

Note: If you or someone you know should be featured in an upcoming community profile, e-mail Ben Cartwright at ben@sdgln.com.

Left photo- Brandon and Kyle Tate-McWilliams with friends and family at their wedding reception last year.