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About Carl DeMaio and I

Commentary: Conversations with the Mayor of Hillcrest

by Nicole Murray Ramirez





Carl DeMaio at the childrens school supplies

backpack giveaway | PHOTO: BIG MIKE
Some years ago, a young candidate for City council reached out to me for some advice. He
was gay and wanted to come out publicly as a vast majority of San Diegans did not know,
though he never hid it.
In the last decades Ive become used to GLBT people of all ages reaching out to me for advice,
information, assistance etc. and I have mentored many local, state and national activists and
When I first met Carl DeMaio I was immediately very impressed at how intelligent and
knowledgeable he was about government and the political system. But I was also taken aback
to realize that though Carl was a proud successful businessman who happened to be gay, he
really knew hardly anything about his own community as up to this point he totally focused on
his business and government reform. I left our first meeting thinking: young, nice, smart guy,
but kinda a boring nerd.
Carl came out in a San Diego Magazine interview by then editor, Tom Blair who also
happened to be gay.
He won a huge victory in the primary election that year becoming the first openly gay elected
City councilman, followed later that year by Todd Gloria.
Carl DeMaio wanted to get to know his GLBT community better and thats how we became
close; in many ways I introduced him to our San Diego community and organizations.
Soon, we became very close and would sometimes talk late into the night. I became a
father/mother figure to him and soon I learned about the cancer death of his mother at age 11

and how his father abandoned the family a week before his wife died. We talked about how his
siblings and he were split up and how he ended up with the Jesuit priests with a few dollars
and a duffle bag. We had deep talks about his difficult childhood, but what impressed me was
how he prevailed and his hard work ethic that resulted in him becoming a successful
There was one major problem when it came to Carl DeMaio and most of our GLBT leaders
and activists he was a Republican. Without even meeting or getting to know him, many in
our community disliked him immediately and judged and condemned him, yes, because he
was a Republican.
One time when I took him to an LGBT Center event, a high-ranking gay Democratic officeholder actually took me to the side and told me to stop bringing Carl to community events, but
I still did anyway, though most of the time he received a cold reception from most of our
I gave Carl a book about Harvey Milk (the Mayor of Castro) and told him to read the chapter
about the year Harvey won and how the established gay leadership worked against him and
even ran another gay candidate against him.
Sometimes some GLBT leaders and activists got so negative and nasty toward Carl that he
wanted to stop his involvement with our community. But he got involved with Stepping
Stone, Townspeople, Being Alive, and The Trevor Project etc. Anytime I asked him for
support of our communitys Childrens Easter Egg Hunt, Toys for Kids Xmas Drive,
Backpacks and School Supplies for Children, food drives etc. he always came through with
support never seeking headlines.
I took Carl to the Barrio Station for Latino youth and he became a strong supporter; but all this
never mattered to many of our Democratic partisan gay leaders. As long as Carl was a
Republican he was the enemy.
It was at an AIDS benefit that Carl DeMaio met businessman Johnathan Hale and they
havent been apart since, now going on six years.
Johnathan Hale, like Carl, also had a most rough and difficult childhood. Since the age of
seven Johnathan went from one foster home to another only to suffer abuse, beatings and, yes,
rape. He ended up at a home for troubled boys and teens and like Carl DeMaio turned his life
When Carl DeMaio ran for mayor I did not support him because I didnt feel he was ready
and never got to know all the communities of San Diego. Also, I had been a close friend and
supporter of Bob Filner since the 1970s. I also got into a big personal fight with Johnathan, so
Carl and I parted ways. Yes, during this vicious, negative mayoral campaign I too joined the
ugly attacks on Carl and, to be honest, a lot of it had to do with my personal hurt and anger.
Though Carl had a 100 percent voting record when it came to GLBT civil rights issues, the left
wing Democratic gay activists and leaders campaign to destroy Carl DeMaio has never
stopped. And soon they started attacking and trying to destroy his partner, Johnathan Hale.
In about half a century of involvement in politics and our community I have never witnessed
such a nasty and vicious campaign as the one aimed at Carl. They even stooped to spread an
ugly bathroom smear attack on Carl that even then Council President Tony Young and

Council President Todd Gloria condemned as pure lies.

Now dont get me wrong, Carl DeMaio is not the perfect candidate and I dont agree with him
on all the issues and Johnathan Hale is far from perfect (and so am I and who is) but the Carl
DeMaio and, yes, Johnathan Hale of two years ago are not the same. These two young men
have grown, experienced loss and life more, matured and deserve you to learn more about
them and get to know them on your own. Not what editorials, commentaries, ads and, yes,
even my column say.
This is my challenge to each and every one of you: do your own homework and make up your
own mind. Thank you.
Nicole Murray Ramirez has been an award-winning columnist since 1973, and a Latino and
gay activist for more than 45 years. He is currently a city commissioner and has served the last
seven mayors of San Diego. He is also a national board member of the Harvey Milk
Foundation and chairman of the International Court Council of the USA, Canada and Mexico.
In 2013 Murray Ramirez was named Mayor of Hillcrest by a City proclamation.

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