Gender and #MeToo Are Hot Topics at Summit LA18 Ideas Festival

Jill Soloway - H Getty 2018
Presley Ann/gettyimages

#MeToo's Tarana Burke and Black Lives Matter activist Janaya Khan were among the speakers at the downtown event Saturday.

Thought leaders including Al Gore, Eckart Tolle and Jose Andres descended on downtown Los Angeles this weekend to be a part of Summit LA18, a weekend-long, invitation-only event for attendees to exchange ideas, hear speakers and expand their minds.

The event took over two and a half blocks in the historic theater district, including the Ace Hotel and the Orpheum Theater, and transformed them into a campus where attendees could participate in seminars, art installations, performances, culinary experiences and more.

On Saturday afternoon, Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement and the senior director of Girls for Gender Equity, sat down for a conversation with actor Matt McGorry at the Orpheum to discuss where she thought the movement stood, just over a year into Hollywood's reckoning with Harvey Weinstein and others.

While Burke was pleased that some individuals had been held accountable, she said that the larger system that enabled them still needed to face a reckoning.

"You're going to tell me that in 20-something years, that you didn't know that Les Moonves was this person? Come on. You're going to tell me that The Weinstein Co. didn't know that Harvey Weinstein was that person? You lying. That's not true. So when it comes forward you can't create a Harvey Weinstein without creating a whole system around him that holds him up."

She also emphasized that in order for the movement to succeed, its message must communicate effectively.

"If you think that your life hasn't been touched by sexual violence, you're wrong. If you think that this is a hit list and we're trying to take out men, you're wrong," she said. "This is a movement of survivors and allies and people around the world who are working to end sexual violence and support survivors."

In addition to the seminars, Summit transformed a number of downtown L.A. parking lots into an outdoor street festival where guests could reinvigorate themselves with fresh juices, make a flower crown, take a Zumba class or relax under the shade of a teepee.

Later in the afternoon, Transparent creator Jill Soloway led an Identity Beyond Gender: Freedom of a Non-Binary Future panel with Black Lives Matter activist Janaya Khan and entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt.

Donald Trump and the upcoming elections were the hot topics at this discussion and Soloway spoke to Trump's power as a storyteller and said that the left must create an equally compelling narrative if they hope to defeat him.

"As a storyteller, I'm always looking for what is that narrative that we can come up with that's as powerful as Trump's narrative of fascism. What is the message that can unite the left and actually unite this idea about protecting the planet?"

While the outcome of the upcoming elections remains in doubt, there is no question that there was a tremendous enthusiasm and energy among the Summit LA18 attendees to bring about a positive and progressive change in the country.