WeHo’s John Duran a Recipient of LGBT Latino/a Activist Award


West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran is one of 41 recipients of this year’s Honor 41 Awards, which acknowledge Latino/a activists in the LGBT community.

Honor 41 is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote positive images of the Latino/a LGBT community and bring that community together online.

John Duran
John Duran

“41” has long had a negative connotation in Mexican culture. The Honor 41 website notes that it has been used to label someone as a “maricon/joto which in English translates to calling someone faggot/gay.”

That stems from an incident in 1901 known as the “Dance of the Forty One. Police in Mexico City raided a private party reportedly attended by some very influential people. Of the 41 people at the party, at least half were said to be “wearing elegant ladies’ dresses, wigs, false breasts, earrings, embroidered slippers, and their faces were painted with highlighted eyes and rosy cheeks,” according to a news report in that day.

Since then, Mexico has avoided that number. Francisco L. Urquizo, a Mexican writer and historian, has written that “even officialdom ignores the number 41. No division, regiment, or battalion of the army is given the number 41. From 40 they progress directly to 42. No payroll has a number 41. Municipal records show no houses with the number 41; if this cannot be avoided, 40 bis is used. No hotel or hospital has a room 41. Nobody celebrates their 41st birthday, going straight from 40 to 42. No vehicle is assigned a number plate with 41, and no police officer will accept a badge with that number.”

Duran has a Latino background. He is a lawyer and has been very active in LGBT and other human rights issues. For example, he represented the defendants in Morton v. City of Costa Mesa, who were two lesbians who had been subjected to unlawful genital search to determine their gender. Duran also served as legal counsel for ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) in the late 1980’s. He also was a founding board member of ANGLE (Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality) and has served on the board of Equality California. He currently is president of the board of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.


Duran was recognized in 1991 by the California State Assembly for crafting California’s legislative response to AIDS as the statewide co-chair of the LIFE AIDS lobby. Christopher Street West named him the 1990 L.A. Gay Pride Man of the Year.

Duran was elected to the West Hollywood City Council on March 6 and during that period also has served in the honorary position of mayor.

In a post on Facebook, Duran said he was “honored to be nominated as one of the top 41 Latino LGBT leaders in the USA for 2016. Hermanos y hermanas – we will be in the trenches fighting Trump for the next 4 years on both flanks: LGBT rights and immigration reform. Ready to rumble !!!”

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