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As the District gears up for this month’s Capital Pride celebrations, a basement meeting room of the Foundry United Methodist Church at 1500 16th St. NW — just a stone’s throw from the intersection where a gay couple escaped a brick hurled in their direction last October — was just the venue to remind the community that it has more on its plate than building parade floats or choosing festival-wear.
About 30 concerned people gathered for the Tuesday evening meeting held by Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), a group re-formed recently in the wake of violent attacks on GLBT people in D.C., with a special visit from Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier.
“I am not going to abolish the central unit [of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit],” said Lanier, answering pointed questions from longtime activist Peter Rosenstein, while granting that this central unit may never have more than about three staff under her watch. Lanier’s strategy instead aims to have GLLU officers operating in all seven MPD districts, working during each of MPD’s three daily shifts. “I’ve never changed my position on that.”
It was just one point examined at the meeting, which included several activists beyond Rosenstein. Among them were Christopher Dyer, head of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs; Jeff Coudriet, of Councilmember Jack Evans’ (D-Ward 2) office; Clark Ray, until recently the highest-ranking openly gay appointee in Mayor Adrian Fenty’s administration, heading the Department of Parks and Recreation; John Klenert, a writer and activist; and David Mariner, head of The DC Center, the area GLBT community center.
With the help of Acting Lt. Brett Parson, the gay officer who heads all of MPD’s special-liaison units, along with GLLU Officers Juanita Foreman and Zunnobia Hakir, and Officer Myra Jordan of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit, questions were fielded on a number of issues from late-night eateries serving as crime magnets, to transgender sex workers, to homophobia in schools.
If anything was concluded — beyond Lanier’s answer to Rosenstein’s question — one point of agreement between Lanier and the audience was that GLOV should also seek some face time with heads of other District police forces, primarily the Metro Transit Police and the U.S. Park Police.
”If they don’t hear [you], if they send a representative, that’s very different,” Lanier advised, also suggesting that GLOV members take advantage of the MPD Ride-Along program, allowing District residents the chance to shadow working officers, or request a tour of the city’s 911 call center.
The second point, emphasized by GLOV co-chair Chris Farris, was that the organization needs help. Correcting an assumption that the group has not yet met with Michelle Rhee, D.C. Public Schools chancellor, to discuss homophobia among students because she’s not cleared time, Farris explained that it’s been difficult for the all-volunteer GLOV to be persistent in its request for the meeting. Though he and other GLOV members have been able to secure meetings with District officials and attend hearings and the like, Farris reminded that group that what may be of most importance is the fact that GLOV’s resources are very limited.
”We’re all volunteers,” Farris stressed. “Our time is tight. We need more volunteers.”
To learn more about GLOV, a program of The DC Center, or to get involved, visit them online at www.glovdc.org, or call 202-682-2245. To benefit GLOV, The Academy of Washington presents the Glitter Gala on Sunday, June 21, 3 p.m. at Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, 1824 Half St. SW. Admission is $10.