Many thanks to reporter Tom Nash for "Things Just Got Real." Kudos also for correctly identifying hate crime victim Mari Hill as female and consistently using gender appropriate pronouns in the article.
Numerous concerns were mentioned in this story. As an openly gay man positioned chronologically between the two groups of activists interviewed, perhaps I can offer a path towards common ground. Having come out at age 13 back home in suburban Maryland, at a time when resources for sexual- and gender-minority youth were essentially nonexistent, I quickly developed empathy for others whose very existence was, at best, misunderstood. Accordingly, including transgender, bisexual, intersex and queer-identifying persons into an overall community came naturally to me.
Most LGBTQI activists I've known and worked with have espoused the need for multifaceted work. Civil rights, poverty, homelessness and historic preservation are among the many causes in which my fellow activists have joined in supporting.
Richmond's recent appointment of Maj. Odetta Johnson as police liaison to the LGBTQI community is a tremendous victory and should be applauded, particularly since this decision was not precipitated by violence (I lived in Hartford, Conn., when a hate crime inspired the appointment of such a liaison). While many in the community have had unfortunate experiences with the police, it's important to realize that while a subculture mentality does tend to develop among the military, police force, clergy, etc., they are — much like the LGBTQI community itself — a microcosm and reflection of mainstream society. Having a liaison in place will hopefully encourage victims of abuse of authority by individual officers to seek to work through this newly established resource to seek restitution.
While progress has been amazingly quick, the LGBTQI community is in many ways unique. Unlike oppressed groups bound together by ties of race, religion or ethnicity, sexual- and gender-minority groups lack a cohesive oral history passed down from one generation to the next. As such, it's vital that we come together periodically as a multi-generational community to share our perspectives and weave the fabric of community which our lack of common background threatens to leave unfulfilled.
Kenneth C. Decker