Sepi’s Story

Sepi and her wife Ashlei!

Sepi and her wife Ashlei!

 
 

As a lesbian, Iranian immigrant and woman of color, I was never supposed to run for office. I can count on my fingers the number of elected officials who talk like me, look like me, grew up like me, and yes, love like me. But at a time when our most basic rights are under attack and hateful legislators chip away at the foundation of our democracy, I am running.

As a Business Law attorney and small business owner, I know the importance of supporting our small businesses to build a thriving local economy with good, rent and mortgage-paying jobs and can easily understand government codes and ordinances.

I'm running because the rent is too high, and to expand protections for renters against unjust rent hikes and predatory evictions.

I'm running to deliver comprehensive solutions to our homeless crisis, by going right to the source: lack of affordable housing and good, mortgage and rent-paying jobs in West Hollywood.

I'm running to prevent climate disaster by making our city a model for the future, leading the way with green energy and green jobs while reducing traffic by taking cars off the road and adding mass transit opportunities.

I’m running because our residents need to age in place without the fear of not being supported or taken care of by the City we have lived in for decades.

I'm running because I believe in justice for all. Social justice, economic justice, and climate justice. Justice for our black and brown family, friends and neighbors. Justice for our transgender, non-binary and non-conforming family, who are disproportionately impacted by our lack of public health services and affordable housing. And justice for each and every one of you, because you deserve to be safe in the city you love, with the people you love. You deserve to live, work and age in place in the city you love. You deserve a better West Hollywood. We all do.

I’m running a people-powered campaign, without accepting a single penny from big developers. I’m proud to have the support of many leaders including, West Hollywood legend Ivy Bottini, Planning Commissioner John Erickson, Public Facilities Commission Chair Noemi Torres, Women's Advisory Board Members Carla Romo and Jenner Deal, Transgender Advisory Board Chair Alexis Sanchez, and Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board Co-chairs Lauren D. Costine and Jason Frazier. More endorsements can be found here: Endorsements.

I was born in Iran and spent the first few years of my life in fear of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard watching our every move. Women's rights were trampled on and we were not allowed to be in the streets with men or boys who were not our family. I cut my hair short and pretended to be a boy to play soccer with the neighborhood kids. I remember kicking the ball around under the hot Tehran sun just as vividly as I remember fleeing the country with my parents, escaping to the United States for a better life.

After I came out in High School during my junior year, I was bullied by other students and repeatedly called a dyke. The school counselor was no help and told me to go kiss a boy in the yard to prove them wrong. Instead, I chose to be more out and proud and came out to my family. It was hard for them at first, but with patience and my work of educating them, they grew to tolerate, then accept and now advocate for me.

During my second year of college, I was sitting with my girlfriend at the time in a coffee shop that was known to be “gay friendly”. We were getting rude looks from the new manager as we held hands. You know the look, you’ve seen it too.  I had a bad feeling and the next thing I knew, a police officer and the manager were standing over us. We were shocked and frankly terrified when the police officer said, “The manager doesn’t want your kind in his establishment, you have to get up and leave” as he blew a kiss and winked at me.

We ran out in a hurry and drove around town in tears. We felt powerless. Powerless to protect ourselves, powerless to protect the people we love. We decided right then and there that we would never be powerless again and both decided to go to law school to learn the law and stop this from happening to others.

I have been an LGBTQ+ civil rights advocate ever since.

Shortly after my graduation from Golden Gate School of Law, I was elected to the board of Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, where I worked to mentor and educate young LGBTQ+ law students and lawyers.

I moved to sunny Los Angeles in late 2006 and in 2007, was elected to the board of the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, and then elected Co-president in 2008. This was a pivotal year for our community with the disastrous Prop 8 on the ballot. I was proud to help raise thousands of dollars to support the No On Prop 8 campaign.

Never one to stop fighting, the passage of Prop 8 didn’t dissuade me from advocacy. In 2009, I joined the Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the world. In various leadership roles at Human Rights Campaign, including a term on the Board of Governors, I helped train and educate new and diverse leaders, developing the skills they need to advance our cause. I co-chaired the annual HRC Los Angeles Gala in 2012 and I’ve continued to serve with the Human Rights Campaign for the better part of a decade to advance the rights, representation, and visibility of LGBTQ+ people in Los Angeles and helped get LGBTQ+ candidates and allies elected to public office.

In addition to my advocacy work with the Human Rights Campaign, I was appointed to the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board. As a member of this board, I helped organized the world's first city-sponsored Bisexual Pride event.

I am a renter and have lived in West Hollywood with my wife and furbabies for a decade. It is time for real solutions, not developer money in West Hollywood. West Hollywood is our city and deserves to be run by our voices.

My name is Sepi Shyne, I’m running for West Hollywood City Council, and I hope I can count on your vote on March 5th.