Japer Bowles, a former ANC Commissioner and former chair of the ANC Rainbow Caucus, has been appointed as the new head of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.
Bowles replaces longtime executive director Sheila Alexander-Reid, who stepped down from the post in July to take a job with a consultant start-up.
A local LGBTQ advocate and public affairs professional, Bowles has experience leading a coalition of more than 30 local LGBTQ businesses and nonprofit organizations and more than 60 elected officials to develop priorities and strategize investments in programs that support the LGBTQ community.
Bowles, a native of Branson, Missouri, also previously served as a legislative manager at Statewide Associates, where he led a team that “analyzed, monitored, and reported the political actions of state legislatures and executive leaders and on over 15,000 legislative and regulatory matters for corporations, trade associations, and the military,” according to a press release from the office of Mayor Muriel Bowser.
As head of the ANC Rainbow Caucus, Bowles advocated for passage of legislation like the “Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment,” named after two LGBTQ individuals who were victims of violent crimes, which bars the use of the gay or trans “panic” defense.
Bowles was also an outspoken proponent of investment in LGBTQ programs and services, especially those dealing with homeless LGBTQ youth and transgender individuals, encouraging members of the D.C. Council to take the LGBTQ community into account when making funding or budgeting decisions.
On the day of the announcement of Bowles’ appointment, which coincided with National Coming Out Day, Bowles appeared in a video with other Bowser administration officials who are LGBTQ, sharing the details of his coming out story.
Today, we celebrate and honor the stories of every LGBTQ+ Washingtonian, and commit to continue to be a city where all people can live and thrive. 🌈 pic.twitter.com/c2vapwSTSI
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) October 11, 2021
Bowles replied to the tweet featuring the video of the Bowser appointees with one of his own.
“It’s the honor of my life to continue my advocacy for my community as the next Director of @DCLGBTQ,” he wrote. “Thank you @MayorBowser and DC for giving me this opportunity! #NationalComingOutDay.”
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