The work to ensure people of color, LGBT folks and women have seats at the proverbial table is ongoing. It’s why Gregory Cendana started the consulting firm Can’t Stop! Won’t Stop! with his friend Carmen Berkley in 2009.
The group exists so that historically marginalized communities feel empowered within campaigns, organizations and the world to “make social and cultural change, work and live in inclusive and nurturing spaces and break down systemic barriers to socio-economic and societal freedom,” Cendana says.
The group has many components from campaign strategies, the arts, immigration issues, training and facilitation, strategic planning, conferences and more.
“We have to work twice as hard to be seen, heard and trusted for our experiences,” Cendana, 32, says. “In the political space, our views are often ignored or put to the side. If people accept that we are the experts of our own experience, this world would be such a different place.”
Cendana works full time with Can’t Stop! Won’t Stop!, its only full-time employee. He was named a Capital Pride hero in June for his efforts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Born in Guam, raised in Saramento, Calif., Cendana came to Washington 10 years ago for work and served in non-profit management for 10 years with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and president of the United States Student Association.
He’s in a relationship with Terrence Ford and calls himself a “proud resident of southeast/Ward 8.”
Cendana enjoys dancing, singing karaoke and trying new recipes in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
For me, coming out has been and continues to be an ongoing process. One of my big brothers and a mentor, Jose Antonio Vargas, describes it as “letting people in.” The hardest people to tell were my parents (John and Maria) and I came out to them in 2009 with my sister Jessica by my side.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
It’s important to lift up our ancestors and the people who helped pave the way. In that spirit, I’d like to name Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. A more recent hero of mine is Janelle Monae, leader of the #free@$$mothaf*cka movement!
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Larry’s Lounge was a nice pregame or nightcap spot when I used to live in the gayborhood and I enjoyed going to Apex for a dance party.
Describe your dream wedding.
I haven’t thought too much about my dream wedding. I do know that I’d be surrounded by all the people I love and there will be spirits a flowing, laughs a ringing and bootys a shaking.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Immigration. Families are being separated and detained. Children are being abused by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and border patrol. Families belong together and free in communities.
What historical outcome would you change?
The number of people killed by the AIDS epidemic.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Seeing the success of “Pose,” a show that has the largest cast of transgender actors (five!) ever to appear as series regulars on a scripted show. It’s been renewed for a second season and if you haven’t started watching, I highly recommend it.
On what do you insist?
Being my most authentic self, living my best life and paying it forward.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A birthday wish to President Obama along with a photo of he and I together.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Greg Living His Best Life: A Can’t Stop/Won’t Stop Memoir”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I believe everything happens for a reason and I am happy the way I am now.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
There is a heaven and a hell.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Don’t conflate access with power. Center the most marginalized and disproportionately impacted. Ensure you are opening doors for others. Stay humble and consider yourself lifelong students. There’s always something more to learn. Remember, no one is free until we are all free.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A glass of ice water and ice cream on a hot and humid day in D.C.! To be in a Missy Elliott music video or performance!
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we are all promiscuous — not that there’s anything wrong with that.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…” (in my best “RENT” voice)
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Standing for the national anthem. #StandWithKap #TakeAKnee
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
People say that I’m a baby whisperer. I like to think of it as being the cool guncle.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
My worth. Not all heroes wear capes and even if they do, doesn’t mean they are.
It’s a place with rich history and people who come from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. I’ve met and worked with people from across the country and globe. There are many opportunities including many things that don’t require money or special access. And as a concert goer, D.C. or a place close by is usually on the tour list.