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Creating art that pops

Glenn Fry, gay news, Washington Blade

Visual artist Glenn Fry moved to D.C. nearly 15 years ago. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When visual artist Glenn Fry moved to D.C. nearly 15 years ago, he bartended at some of the gay community’s most popular nightlife venues and nightclub events. Quickly pegged as a recent transplant due to his failure to observe the local habit of reflexively asking customers what they do for a living, Fry remembers those exchanges from his perspective.

“People didn’t know how to process my being an artist,” Fry recalls, “although they were intrigued.” “Danger, Will Robinson,” was the comic strip thought bubble he would imagine floating over their heads while he concocted beverages.

“Ever since I was a kid I loved cartoons, loved the Pop Art movement,” Fry explains. “I would have loved to have been a part of that whole Manhattan ‘new art’ scene during the days of Andy Warhol.” “Warhol, along with fellow New York City pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, brought silkscreening to the forefront as a respected and appreciated art form.”

Fry chuckles when re-telling an art patron compliment, “if Warhol and Lichenstein had a kid, it would be you.”

The iconographic, bold, colorful, thought-provoking, graphic-inspired silkscreen prints Fry composes blend the pop art cultural influence of his youth and the marketing designs that would follow college. Printing on heavy paper, wood, glass or canvas in often oversized formats, he creates both one-of-a-kind and limited-edition images. From inspiration to composition to production, Fry fashions all aspects of his craft.

After earning a Fine Arts degree from Edinboro University in Northwestern Pennsylvania, Fry moved to Cleveland to work as a graphic designer. Specializing in corporate advertising for 10 years, he grew increasingly impatient to focus on more creative endeavors.

Now 47 and a full-time artist-entrepreneur managing Glenn Fry Art as his business enterprise, Fry is glad he gravitated to D.C. “I may not have been able to continue as an artist had I not moved here,” pointing out that economic downturns have largely not affected Washington – or interest in art. “D.C. has been good to me, my art has been well-received and I’m appreciative of that.” Besides, he notes, “New York’s bohemian culture isn’t around anymore.”

The stark simplicity of his silkscreened compositions initially belies both the complexity of their thoughtful origination and multi-layered manual execution. “I’m often inspired by situations I’ve gone through or those friends have experienced,” Fry says in describing the genesis of a piece. “I want my art to be fun, uplifting, colorful, graphic and bold, with a contemporary twist.”

While Fry designs pieces at his apartment near Logan Circle, he produces his prints at a nearby studio, organized by local artist Gary Fisher. Ten years ago, Fisher invited Fry to join him and three other artists in renting the basement level in a small commercial building at 1327 14th St., N.W., near Rhode Island Avenue. “Gary was the one who prodded me and inspired me,” Fry says, recalling his professional transition while still bartending.

Fry launched his first exhibit at Gallery Plan B, a couple of blocks north on 14th Street. “They really helped me spring to life in my profession,” says Fry. Working full-time as an artist since 2008, Fry has since garnered high-profile commissions for permanent installations at two Federal Reserve Board buildings, IBM, National Geographic Channels, and the Washington Design Center.

As his art gained exposure and grew in popularity, requests for commissioned pieces by both local businesses and individuals would follow. “Trusting me to create something they’ll enjoy, knowing my style and investing in my work” gives Fry great satisfaction.

“I’m grateful every day that I’ve found my passion,” Fry says, “I’m doing the thing that makes me happy.”

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

Glenn Fry, gay news, Washington Blade

Glenn Fry (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

07
Jan
2014

Why do I stay in the United Methodist Church?

Frank Schaefer, United Methodist Church, gay news, Washington Blade

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., appeared at Foundry United Methodist Church in December. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

By CHET PRITCHETT

The United Methodist Church recently defrocked Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist pastor in Pennsylvania, for refusing to stop officiating wedding ceremonies for LGBT couples. I heard my friends ask again and again, “Why do you stay in The United Methodist Church?” Sometimes I ask it of myself.

Why do I stay in a church that, since 1972, has called homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching?” Why do I stay in a church that affirms my call to ministry yet says “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” (whatever THAT means) are not to be ordained or appointed to positions as clergy? Why do I stay in a church that considers a pastor presiding at a holy moment in the life of a couple to be a chargeable offense because that couple happens to identify as the same gender?

Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of friends and acquaintances have asked themselves these same questions. We haven’t always answered them in the same ways, and I affirm their decision to find hope and home in other religious traditions (or for some, none at all).

But my reasons for staying United Methodist are many: the United Methodist pastor’s kids who were the first people I told I was gay; the clergy and laity who nurtured my ministerial gifts; the seminary professors who challenged and strengthened me; the congregations who let me stand in their pulpits and parishioners who allowed me to be with them in emergency rooms; the queer United Methodists who both dispute and affirm my ideas on race, sex, class and gender identity.

Even though I’m “seminary trained, but not ordained,” I stay in the United Methodist Church because I’ve found a home: both a congregation that welcomes and affirms my gifts (Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown) and a family of choice with the Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling Ministries Network. This circle of advocates is working for change in the denomination’s policies and practices.

Many other LGBTQ United Methodists have found congregations across the country where they are not only welcomed, but affirmed in their leadership skills and spiritual growth. More than 12 United Methodist congregations inside the Beltway have publicly declared themselves welcoming of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities — I was welcomed, you will be, too. And not just at Christmas, but at every time of year.

Sometimes I’ll be confronted with the notion that staying in the United Methodist Church and advocating for change on the inside is tantamount to being complicit with my own oppression, and to be honest, it’s not an invalid point. The church’s current policies are homophobic, and I’ve had ample opportunity to leave for more gay-friendly denominations. It would be a pretty simple thing to do. And yet, if I and thousands of others left, there would be no one left to declare to the young queer people growing up in the church: “God loves you no matter what!”

Where will they hear those voices in Sunday School or in the church choir if we become Episcopalian or Lutheran or Presbyterian? Where will they find themselves in Scripture if we aren’t there to whisper, “See, we’re in these stories, too!” Where will they learn the ideals of hospitality and service if we aren’t there to lead work teams and altar guilds and make casseroles for potlucks?

I stay in the United Methodist Church, but, like Frank, I do not stay silently. This is far from complicity. I stay as a loud noisy gong because I love the United Methodist Church, a denomination that can be so much more than it is today — a church that increases in love and decreases the number of queer youth committing suicide; a church that increases in hope and assures all people that housing and employment discrimination are a thing of the past; a church that increases joy and works for a day when all people are welcomed and affirmed.

Chett Pritchett is executive director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action and a member of Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown. 

14
Jan
2014

Putin: Gays welcome at Olympics as long as children left ‘in peace’

Vladimir Putin, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo public domain)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said gays and lesbians are welcome to attend next month’s 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as long as they “leave the children in peace.”

“We have no ban on non-traditional sexual relations,” Putin said in response to a question an Olympics volunteer asked him during a meeting in the Black Sea resort city about Russia’s law that bans gay propaganda to minors as the Associated Press reported. “We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors.”

The AP reported Putin also addressed lingering concerns that gays and lesbians who travel to Sochi for the games would face discrimination under the controversial propaganda law he signed last June.

“We aren’t banning anything, we aren’t rounding up anyone, we have no criminal punishment for such relations unlike many other countries,” he said. “One can feel relaxed and at ease, but please leave the children in peace.”

LGBT rights advocates in Russia and in the U.S. blasted Putin’s comments.

“This statement demonstrates very well how the official discourse labels LGBT people as a threat to children, instilling fear and hatred in the society,” Anastasia Smirnova, spokesperson for a coalition of six Russian LGBT advocacy groups that includes the Russian LGBT Network, told the Washington Blade. “This is what leads to the ‘social cleansing’ performed by vigilantes across Russia, and this is what leaves LGBT youth marginalized and completely isolated. And this is the climate to which the world is invited to experience the Olympic spirit.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) described Putin’s comments as “sickening.”

“His obvious implication that gays prey on children is a desperate excuse for his homophobic stance and policies,” Florida Republican told the Blade. “What Putin doesn’t say is Russia does in fact have an alarming record of child abuse, but that is it not due to the gay community.”

Jamie Kirchick, a journalist who has urged the Obama administration to freeze the assets of Russian citizens and officials directly behind the country’s anti-LGBT crackdown and prevent them from entering the U.S. under a 2012 law, described Putin’s comments as a “reminder” of the Kremlin’s “war on gay people.”

“The association of homosexuality and pedophilia is one of the oldest and nastiest slurs used against gay men, and has provoked countless acts of violence and murder against them through the ages,” Kirchick told the Blade. “His statement that gays are welcome in Russia provided they stay away from children is like inviting a black family into your home but warning them not to touch the silver.”

Putin told reporters during an October press conference in Sochi with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach that gays and lesbians will not suffer discrimination during the games. The IOC has repeatedly asserted it has received assurances from the Kremlin the gay propaganda ban will not affect athletes and others who plan to travel to the games, even though Russian officials have previously said the statute will apply to those who attend the Olympics.

The U.S. State Department last week issued an alert to Americans who plan to travel to Sochi that highlighted, among other things, the vagueness of Russia’s gay propaganda law.

“The U.S. government understands that this law applies to both Russian citizens and foreigners in Russia,” reads the advisory. “Russian authorities have indicated a broad interpretation of what constitutes ‘LGBT propaganda’ and provided vague guidance as to which actions will be interpreted by authorities as ‘LGBT propaganda.’”

Putin on Friday also discussed his position on gay rights an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in Sochi that is scheduled to air in its entirely on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Jan. 19.

A full transcript of the interview was not immediately available, but ABC reported Putin told Stephanopoulos the gay propaganda law does not ban homosexuality in his country. The network reported the Russian president stressed the statute only prohibits “homosexual ‘propaganda’ around minors.”

17
Jan
2014

Gays not widely represented in NIH studies

National Institute of Health, Gay News, Washington Blade

National Institute of Health. (Image public domain)

EAST SUSSEX, UK — Just half of one percent of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health concern LGBT issues according to a new report from the American Journal of Public Health, Medical News Today reports.

The percentage was considered disproportionately low according to researchers from the Pittsburgh Public Health’s Center for LGBT Health Research, the article said.

“In general, LGBT people experience stigma associated with their sexual and gender minority status, disproportionate behavioral risks and psychosocial health problems,” said Robert W.S. Coulter of Pittsburgh Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences.

Coulter and his colleagues found that the NIH funded 628 studies between 1989 and 2011 concerning LGBT health. These stories accounted for 0.5 percent of all NIH studies in total during this period, the Medical News Today article said.

Of the 628 studies, 519 focused on HIV/AIDS and sexual health issues, with 86.1 percent focusing on men, 13.5 percent focusing on women, and 6.8 percent of the studies focusing on transgender people.

The researchers are also concerned about the low numbers of intervention studies addressing LGBT health. Just 21 NIH-funded intervention studies in this period addressed non-HIV LGBT health issues, the article said.

Coulter said political pressure is behind the low number. The report notes a 2003 request made by Republican members of Congress to justify the benefits of nearly 200 NIH projects proposing to study health issues relating to LGBT or other marginalized populations, Medical News Today said.

22
Jan
2014

Schock and Sinema take a selfie

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Anti-gay Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) walks along looking at his phone just before the State of the Union Address as bisexual Rep. Kyrsten Sinema digs through her bag. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay
Schock spots Sinema and stops to say hello. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema and Schock engage someone else in conversation. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade

Schock looks up. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Shock sits on Sinema‘s lap. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema grabs her phone. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Schock takes Sinema‘s phone and holds it out as the two pose for a selfie. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema and Schock admire their photo together. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

 

29
Jan
2014

Idaho LGBT advocates arrested

Idaho Capitol Building, gay news, Washington Blade

Idaho State Capitol Building (Photo public domain)

BOISE, Idaho—40 LGBT rights advocates who prevented lawmakers from entering the Idaho Senate on Feb. 3 were arrested.

The Spokesman-Review reported the protesters stood silently with their hands over their mouths. The newspaper said the advocates also wore black T-shirts with the slogan “add the 4 words Idaho,” referring to the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s anti-discrimination law.

The protesters received misdemeanor trespassing citations.

“We’ve got to do something,” Hilary Rayhill told the Spokesman-Review after authorities arrested her and her fellow advocates.

The newspaper said state Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb (D-Boise) and state Rep. Grant Burgoyne (D-Boise), who introduced a bill that would add LGBT-specific protections to the state’s anti-discrimination law, said lawmakers would not consider their measure this year.

05
Feb
2014

Russia defends anti-gay neo-Nazis, says 1,500 kidnappings never happened

Occupy Pedophilia claims to have abducted nearly 1,500 Russians, mostly gays. And have the video to prove it.

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12
Feb
2014

‘Old age isn’t for sissies’

senior citizens, seniors, LGBT seniors, gay news, Washington Blade, life expectancy

As we age, we hope that the government, along with our community, will be there for us. (Photo by Bigstock)

Old age isn’t for sissies, queer icon Bette Davis famously said.

Lately, as a lesbian and a boomer, I’ve wondered about this. Earlier this month, like many of my generation, I recalled a milestone of my youth. Fifty years ago on Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles, in a moment that transformed our culture, appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Then, our parents were aghast over the Beatles’ unkempt hair (it went below their ears!) and the subversive tilt of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Recently, watching Paul McCartney, 71, on the piano and Ringo Starr, 73, on the drums on “Hey Jude” on CBS’s “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America – A Grammy Salute,” I thought: we boomers may not be, as Bob Dylan sang “forever young,” but getting old looks damned good. At least if you’re Paul or Ringo.

Straight people aren’t the only ones leading fab lives as they age. LGBT boomers and elders are going strong from singer and musician Elton John, 66, to tennis and gay rights icon Billie Jean King, 70, to newly out TV morning show co-host Robin Roberts, 53. Ellen DeGeneres, 53, will host the Oscars next month and actor Ian McKellen, 74, is appearing in “Waiting for Godot” and “No Man’s Land” on Broadway.

For many of us who aren’t celebs, old age isn’t the misery that it was for our grandparents.  Fifty-something, 60-plus or even 70 are far different for most of us, with our Smart Phones, gym workouts and online dating, than for our grandparents. Thanks to better health care, we’re living longer and more productively.

Half a century after Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, far fewer elders live in poverty, according to a recent Akron Beacon Journal analysis of Census data. Fifty years ago, according to the Beacon’s analysis, 27 percent of seniors lived below the poverty line. Today, nine percent of elders live in poverty, the Beacon reported earlier this month. While the poverty rate among seniors has declined, the population of people over 65 in the United States has doubled to 40.8 million.

Why has the poverty rate so dramatically decreased among seniors? Not surprisingly, experts on aging told the Beacon Journal: because of Social Security, Medicare, pensions and 401k programs. “That is a success story,” Harvey Sterns, director of the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology at the University of Akron told the Journal.

Despite this apparent good news, I can’t help but wonder: Are things that wonderful for seniors – especially for LGBT elders? Americans worry (only 26 percent) far less about getting old than people in other countries according to “Attitudes About Aging: A Global Perspective,” a report released by the Pew Research Center last month. I worry about this – especially one finding from the report. “In only four countries–South Korea, the U.S., Germany and Britain–do more than one-third of the public say that the primary responsibility for the economic well-being of people in their old age rests with the elderly themselves.”

This finding is scary, especially for LGBT elders. The social safety net, which had its beginnings in the New Deal, has kept many seniors from living in poverty. Yet, even with Social Security, numbers of elderly in the LGBT community live in or near poverty. Medical expenses (not paid for by Medicare of Medicaid), housing and other expenses keep LGBT seniors below the poverty line. Some were unable to find work in their earlier lives due to homophobia. Ageism within the queer community contributes to their hardship.

In an age of partisan politics and budget cuts, it’s frightening to think that the social safety net in place for elders could be diminished. Most of us want to be independent. We don’t want government to solve all our problems. Yet as we age, we hope that the government, along with our community, will be there for us.

18
Feb
2014

Jason Collins plays in NBA game

Jason Collins, Washington Wizards, NBA, gay news, Washington Blade, Sports Illustrated

Jason Collins (Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Jason Collins on Sunday became the first openly gay person to play in a game for a major American professional sports league.

Collins played 11 minutes during the second quarter of the Brooklyn Nets game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The former Washington Wizards center did not score, but fans at the Staples Center applauded Collins when he took the court.

Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets earlier on Sunday.

“Right now, I’m focused on trying to learn the plays, the game plan assignment,” Collins told reporters during a pre-game press conference as the New York Times reported. “I don’t have time to really think about history right now.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is among those who applauded Collins.

“Jason told us that his goal was to earn another contract with another team,” said Silver in a statement. “I want to commend him on achieving his goal. I know everyone in the NBA family is excited for him and proud that our league fosters an inclusive and respectful environment.”

Collins last April became the first male athlete who actively played in a major American professional sports league to come out as gay when Sports Illustrated published his op-ed.

He had remained unsigned since his announcement.

“There’s a lot of speculation as to why I haven’t signed,” Collins told the Washington Blade in December during an interview that marked the first time he spoke to an LGBT media outlet since he publicly declared his sexual orientation. “I choose to focus on what I can control and that’s how hard I work out.”

The deadline for NBA teams to send their playoff rosters to the league is March 1.

“That’s the ultimate deadline,” Collins told the Blade. “But up until that date I’m going to continue to work out, continue to train. I consider myself a free agent and I’m ready when and if an NBA team calls my name.”

The former Washington Wizards center last May attended a New York City fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council with First Lady Michelle Obama. Collins was also among her guests at last month’s State of the Union address and attended a state dinner earlier this month held in honor of French President François Hollande.

Collins marched in Boston’s annual Pride parade in June with Massachusetts Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy, III, with whom he lived while they attended Stanford University. The former Washington Wizards center also introduced Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards before they performed their song “Same Love” that advocates for marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Collins was also among those who sat on a U.N. panel last December that commemorated the 65th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He signed with the Brooklyn Nets two weeks after University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam came out to the New York Times and ESPN.

Sam, whom Collins congratulated after he publicly declared his sexual orientation, is poised to become the country’s first openly gay professional football player

24
Feb
2014

Report critical of D.C. police response to hate crimes

Cathy Lanier, DC Metro Police, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier (Washington Blade photo by Strother Gaines)

The restructuring of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit in 2009 “weakened its effectiveness in responding to hate crimes” and hindered its ability to reach out to the LGBT community, according to a newly released report.

The 41-page Hate Crimes Assessment Report was prepared by an independent task force created in 2012 by the Anti-Defamation League of Washington, a nationally recognized civil rights group, at the request of D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

In announcing the launching of the task force, Lanier said she asked the ADL to assist the MPD by conducting an impartial review of its programs directed toward the LGBT community, comparing them with other police departments and identifying areas that could be improved.

“MPD policies on the identification and handling of bias or hate crimes are strong and reflect many best practices of law enforcement agencies nationally,” the report concludes.

It also concludes that the “vast majority” of MPD leaders and rank and file officers have a deep commitment to “ensuring the safety and security of the LGBT community and to all of those who live, work, or visit the District of Columbia.”

But the report says a series of structural changes that the department put in place for the GLLU beginning in 2009, which were aimed at expanding the reach of the unit throughout the city, appear to have weakened its effectiveness and diminished its credibility within the LGBT community.

“MPD’s outreach to the LGBT community, which is a critical component of preventing and responding to hate crimes, is significantly less visible and effective than it was prior to the restructuring,” the report says.

“The restructuring of the GLLU reduced the size and limited the role of the central core of the GLLU, weakened its effectiveness in responding to hate crimes and engaging in outreach, and made it less accessible and visible to the LGBT community,” says the report.

“The GLLU’s reduced visibility and presence in the LGBT community has significantly impacted the level of trust the LGBT community has in MPD,” it says.

Former Police Chief Charles Ramsey created the GLLU along with separate liaison units working with the Latino, Asian, and deaf and hard of hearing communities in the late 1990s. Unlike police liaison units in other cities, whose responsibilities were limited mostly to public relations and educational duties, Ramsey arranged for the GLLU and the other units to investigate crimes and make arrests.

Under the leadership of its former commander, Sgt. Brett Parson, the GLLU developed strong ties to the LGBT community, assigning its officers to attend LGBT events and meetings and to patrol neighborhoods with high concentrations of LGBT residents. Although the officers were based in the GLLU headquarters in Dupont Circle, they responded to calls throughout the city and played an active role in investigating crimes targeting LGBT people, including hate crimes.

Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government recognized the GLLU as a highly effective agent for community policing and awarded the unit a grant to expand its work and assist police departments in other cities set up similar units.

In 2009, two years after then Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed her, Lanier put in place a restructuring plan that, among other things, decentralized the GLLU and the other liaison units through the creation of an affiliate officers program that placed affiliate liaison unit members in each of the seven police districts. The restructuring included downsizing the central GLLU office.

LGBT activists, who said they had no objections to the creation of the affiliate program, expressed strong opposition to what they said was an initial plan by Lanier to close the GLLU’s headquarters office. Activists said at the time that the affiliate officers, who were to receive limited training on LGBT related issues, would not have the experience and depth of understanding of the LGBT community that the core GLLU officers, most of whom were gay or lesbian, had.

Lanier quickly backed down from her initial plan to disband the headquarters unit after opposition surfaced from members of the City Council. However, according to activists, she appeared to be gradually decreasing the core unit’s size.

A short time after the restructuring began, Parson requested and was given a transfer out of the unit to patrol duties. Citing budget constraints, the department replaced Parson with a sergeant who was assigned to supervise both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit.

LGBT representatives said the lack of a full-time supervisor for the GLLU was a further indication that the chief was diminishing the ability of the GLLU to carry out its mission.

Other changes associated with the restructuring included restrictions on the types of events or meetings GLLU officers could attend and what appeared to critics as an increase in the frequency that GLLU officers were detailed to other assignments unrelated to the LGBT community.

Lanier has said that due to police personnel limitations, officers from various specialized units would be temporarily detailed to other, street patrol duties as needed.

In a series of recommendations, the Hate Crimes Assessment Report calls on the department to appoint a full-time supervisor of the GLLU and to ensure that the GLLU’s core unit is sufficiently staffed with officers.

In an 8-page response to the task force report, Lanier said she and the department’s leadership agree with most of the conclusions and recommendations of the report.

“Admittedly, some of this is difficult for me to read as it clearly details where the Department has fallen short in our goal to foster strong relationships with our great and diverse communities that enable us to jointly combat the scourge of crimes motivated by hate or bias,” Lanier said in a statement accompanying the report.

“Nonetheless, I strongly support the recommendations of the Task Force, and the Department will be working to implement them,” she said.

Among other things, Lanier said the department agrees with the report’s finding that neither the GLLU nor its affiliate officers “have the visibility in the community that is our goal, and we must improve that.”

She added, however, that it became clear from the report and meetings MPD officials had with the task force that some members of the LGBT community have “expectations” that the MPD cannot meet.

“While we value a strong relationship with the LGBT community, we are also responsible for being sound stewards of public resources,” she said in her response. “Members of the GLLU had attended events in the past that we have determined are inappropriate for police officers on-duty, including bar crawls, book clubs, and certain events in Leather Week,” according to Lanier.

“That said, we believe there are plenty of opportunities for MPD – GLLU as well as its affiliates – to strengthen outreach with the community,” she said.

In her response to the report, Lanier said Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who had been detailed to serve as the GLLU’s supervisor for over a year, “has been assigned to oversee GLLU exclusively since November 2013.” She added that Mahl “is a good fit for the GLLU and its next stage of development.”

In another finding, the report says there is a belief in the LGBT community that “homophobia and transphobia are widespread within MPD, with several describing it as rampant.”

Interviews with members of the community revealed that the hostility toward transgender people, especially transgender women of color, is common among many MPD officers, the report says.

“Virtually every transgender person who spoke to us at the four community meetings reported that they had been harassed or mistreated because of their gender identity or expression, ranging from acts of ignorance and insensitivity to outright hostility and overt expressions of bigotry and harassment,” the report says.

In citing hate crimes data released by the MPD, the report notes that hate crimes targeting the LGBT community make up the highest percentage of hate crimes compared to other categories of victims, such as race, ethnicity, religion, or disability. In 2012, the most recently year for which full data is available, there were 46 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation, comprising 57 percent of a total of 81 hate crimes for all categories.

Police data show there were 9 hate crimes reported in 2012 based on gender identity or expression.

The report doesn’t say how many cases of anti-LGBT hate crimes resulted in an arrest by police or how many of the cases remain unsolved.

“It remains unclear whether the reported increase [in anti-LGBT hate crimes] reflects an actual higher level of hate violence directed against the LGBT community, better reporting by LGBT victims, or the lack of reporting by victims in other categories,” the report says.

The task force members who wrote the report are: David Friedman, Sophie Dornstreich, Michael Liberman – Anti-Defamation League; Sara Warbelow – Human Rights Campaign; Lisa Bornstein – Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Mara Keisling and Vincent Paolo Villano – National Center for Transgender Equality; Jack McDevitt, Associate Dean and Director of the Institute of Race and Justice, Northeastern University in Boston; and Jim Nolan, Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology, West Virginia University in Morgantown.

“We welcome the recommendations in the ADL report,” said Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). “GLOV and other LGBT organizations plan to issue a community response to the recommendations in the next two weeks.”

The full report along with Lanier’s response can be seen here: http://mpdc.dc.gov/publication/report-hate-crimes-assessment-task-force

01
Mar
2014