Metro Weekly

Gertrude Stein Democratic Club elects new board for 2021

District's top LGBTQ political organization wants to use influence to push for pro-LGBTQ legislation and more funding

Jatarious Frazier, the new President-elect of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club – Photo: Facebook.

Last week, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s top LGBTQ political organization, elected a slate of new board members for the upcoming year.

The members nominated five individuals to the board, each unopposed for their respective positions, and elected them via unanimous voice vote. The club’s new president will be Jatarious Frazier, the current vice president for legislative and political affairs. The other officers will include: Japer Bowles, an ANC commissioner who will assume Frazier’s old position; Heidi Ellis, who will serve as vice president of administration; Madeleine Stirling, another ANC commissioner, who will serve as the organization’s secretary, and Detrick Campbell, who will serve as Stein Club’s new treasurer.

Frazier said he has several plans for the upcoming year, looking at increasing the group’s outreach to various communities and engaging with Democratic allies.

One of the primary things for me, is I definitely want to focus on increasing our outreach into all eight wards of the city,” he told Metro Weekly in an interview. “I want to facilitate and build an organization that is more reflective of the entire LGBTQ community of the District, as well as looking at modernizing our organization, communication with our membership, just really elevating a lot of the logistics of the organization.

“I also envision of organization that is more engaged with the membership, including things like include increasing our contacts and expanding our networks by partnering with other organizations in the Democratic club,” he added. “We tried to do some of that this past year. But some of that came together not as cohesively as I would have liked, though, really focusing on engaging with our peer organizations.”

He also foresees Stein Club playing a more proactive role in lobbying for particular piece of legislation that come before the D.C. Council, particularly surrounding budgetary issues like increased funding for the D.C. Office of Human Rights, housing for LGBTQ seniors, support for people living with HIV, and reallocating funding to assist with other LGBTQ issues, ranging from youth homelessness to sex worker outreach to transgender employment.

“I want us to have such a strong relationship with the Council that we aren’t even having to advocate for those types of things, because the Council is making those considerations from the outset,” he added.

See also: Most LGBTQ candidates in D.C. are seeking lower-level office

Bowles, as the new vice president for legislative and political affairs, says since Stein Club is part of the Democratic State Committee, he hopes to leverage the power of the Democratic Party to push for more initiatives that will solve problems facing the LGBTQ community.

“I’d like to better utilize the Democratic State Committee’s networks and policy and leadership power that they have, which I feel like hasn’t been the most utilized in the past,” Bowles told Metro Weekly. “We definitely want to do a big recruitment push and legislative priority gathering for folks east of the river. We definitely want to amplify and help find the voice of folks east of the river to better support LGBTQ people, not just in Ward 2 or Ward 1, where the white gays live. We want to make sure we represent and help the entire community.”

He also proposes forming a transgender caucus that specifically deals with political issues impacting transgender and gender-nonconforming people and gives them a space to push their own priorities.

Japer Bowles – Photo: Facebook.

In terms of upcoming elections, Bowles foresees Stein Club taking up some kind of a role in the Virginia legislative and gubernatorial elections next November, and possibly in the two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5.

“For the Georgia Senate, our new executive board is already trying to figure out the best way for Stein membership to help out. That’s likely to be with us guiding donations to specific groups and then making contact with the LGBTQ groups down in Atlanta and in Georgia just to see if there’s any additional ways we can help,” he said. “We don’t want to be duplicative. We want to make sure that we’re actually helping the people on the ground who know what they’re doing.

“Virginia is absolutely on our list because of proximity and because it’s close enough that Republicans could take back the Senate or the House of Delegates,” he added. “So we’ll definitely try to be helpful there, and steering our over 450 members towards them in terms of donations and volunteering on behalf of Democratic candidates.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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