Since Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and the new city council were installed last year, I’ve been quite critical of a perceived lack of progress on issues of political and civil equality for LGBT people in the Queen City. In fact, I’ve levied several criticisms against our civic leaders: The lack of quick progress on an employment non-discrimination policy or ordinance after their taking of office, the behind-the-scenes, incomplete and impermanent employment policy change they did make this spring and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s (CMPD) less-than-stellar public and media handling of the Tonqy Alston murder case in April.
While I’m usually the first to dish out criticism (mostly constructive, I hope), I also strive to be among the first to heap praise upon those who hear community concerns and respond to them appropriately. Such is the case with CMPD, which, as first reported online by qnotes on Aug. 27 and in this print edition, will hold a public forum with LGBT community members and work toward the potential creation of an LGBT police liaison inside the department.
Community advocate Roberta Dunn, who serves on the steering committee for the Mecklenburg Gay & Lesbian Political Action Committee (MeckPAC), has made waves of progress inside CMPD and with Chief of Police Rodney Monroe. The chief and several of his staff, including Community Services Division head Maj. John Diggs, have been overwhelmingly positive and receptive to various issues and concerns. In response to these concerns, they have committed to holding a community forum and Q&A session at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte on Oct. 12. Dunn reports the chief responded with a “definitive yes” on the possibility of an LGBT police liaison, a CMPD staff person specifically tasked with reaching out to, communicating with and working with the Queen City’s LGBT community. Mayor Foxx is supportive of such conversations and outreach to all portions of the community, says his office.
You can read more about the recent in-roads with CMPD and Chief Monroe on page 8. Here, however, is where I take the time to thank Monroe, Diggs, Capt. Brian Cunningham, Maj. Vicki Foster, Maj. Paul Zinkann III, Mayor Foxx and any other CMPD and city staff people who have made this recent progress possible.
A final statement of gratitude goes out to Roberta Dunn, as well as to Don Rosenthal and Donielle Prophete, murder victim Alston’s sister. This one example of positive, LGBT-inclusive and forward-thinking action is a strong, singular sign of what can happen when LGBT community leaders have the courage to step up to the plate, take initiative, speak and reach out, and be doggedly persistent on what we know is right and just and overdue. Most importantly for our local community leaders, this progress is also a sign of what can happen when we stop cowering and running for cover when we hear someone utter the word “politics.” Political, civil and social equality isn’t something over which we should be afraid. If only more local leaders had as much passion and perseverance as Dunn, perhaps Charlotte would be leading small towns like Boone and Bessemer City, instead of the other way around.
In our Sept. 4, 2010 print edition story, “Charlotte goes crazy for Gaga,” we mistakenly misspelled the names of Zuni Johnson and Jason McCraw. The article’s online version has been updated. We regret the error. : :