The celebration of life and community gathering in honor of Jeffery Robinson was held in the Tower District yesterday. Our local community lost Jeffery this week and his family, friends, and greater LGBTQ+ community assembled in rainbow attire to his guest speakers talk about this life and legacy. The event was well very well attended, and the weather was super agreeable. Many speakers offered remarks passionately and some were simply overcome with emotion.
Peter Roberston kicked off the slew of guest speakers and worked hard to keep his emotions in check. He talked about Jeff’s life and community service being a “bridge over troubled waters” while he detailed instances when Jeff stood in the gap when no one else wood. For those of you who don’t k now, Jeff ran the local non-profit Community Link, published a print newspaper for our community, ran a youth group, helped to start Reel Pride, and most recently, headed up Fresno Rainbow Pride parade and festival. It was obvious Peter and Jeff were long-time friends and had a genuine friendship and collegial relationship.
One of the hardest things to do is give any type of public address while emotions like grief and loss are palpable and very raw. Robin McGehee was a trooper and powered through her remarks like any good communication major would. Robin cued in on three values that she felt were typical of Jeff and his activism: love, pride, and fight. It was inspiring to the crowd and to me personally. Love always beats out hate. In the long run anyway. Pride helps us come out and seen. Fight is something we can always have to do because we still have so much work to do.
Fresno councilwoman, and candidate for California Assembly District 27, also took the podium to address the crowd. It spoke volumes to the growth and development and ever-growing power of the gay vote in Fresno and the Central Valley. Jeff was a local giant who unapologetically pushed and prodded for gay rights and growing political footprint for the LGBTQ+ community is a testament to his more than three decades of activism and leadership.
While I was not personally close to Jeff, we should all be grateful for his longevity and pioneering spirit. It’s commonly held that Jeff pretty much saved our local pride parade and festival when it was teetering on the brink of going under. He was standing in the gap for all of us before I even thought about coming out and he leaves behind some pretty big shoes to fill.