Atlanta mayor appoints gay liaison, names LGBTQ advisory board

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Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appointed a full-time LGBTQ liaison and announced the members of an LGBTQ Advisory Board on Friday, a day before she makes a speech at the HRC gala in downtown Atlanta.

Bottoms appointed Malik Brown, a member of the HRC Board of Governors, as the city’s LGBTQ Affairs Coordinator.

“Words cannot describe how excited I am to be in this new role, working with members of the Mayor's Senior Team, the Mayor's LGBTQ Advisory Board and LGBTQ Liaisons from Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Fire & Rescue Department and Atlanta Corrections Department to protect and advance the lives of LGBTQ Atlantans,” Brown wrote in a Facebook post shortly after the appointment was announced.

Bottoms announced the creation of the LGBTQ Advisory Board – as well the city’s first-ever Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion –during her first State of the City address on Wednesday. She said that the board “will help guide the city’s engagement with our LGBTQ residents, neighbors, and friends.”

The members of the LGBTQ Advisory Board are as follows, according to the Georgia Voice:

  • Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen, Founder, Vision Church Atlanta
  • Kia Barnes, Community Organizer
  • Emily Halden Brown, Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth (ACFLY)
  • State Rep. Park Cannon, Georgia House District 58
  • Richard Cherskov, Owner of Midtown Tavern, Publisher and General Manager of Project Q Atlanta/Q Magazine
  • Gabrielle Claiborne, Co-Founder, Transformation Journeys Worldwide
  • Paul Conroy, Founder, Out Front Theatre
  • Tori Cooper, Prevention Specialist, Positive Impact Health Centers
  • Lisa Cunningham, CEO, Atlanta Film Partners
  • Jamie Fergerson, Executive Director, Atlanta Pride
  • Jeff Graham, Executive Director, Georgia Equality
  • Colton Griffin, LGBT Caucus Chair, Democratic Party of Georgia
  • Roshelle Darlene Hudson, MSW, Co-Founder, Annual Rustin/Lorde Breakfast
  • Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Founder, Southern Jewish Resource Network (SOJOURN)
  • Ivette Lopez, Board of Directors, Latino LinQ
  • Tracee McDaniel, Executive Director, Juxtaposed Center for Transformation
  • Josh McNair, Community Activist
  • Rev. Dr. Joshua M. Noblitt, Saint Mark United Methodist Church
  • Matt Parkey, Board Chairman, AID Atlanta
  • Philip Rafshoon, Former Owner, OutWrite Book Store & Coffeehouse
  • Kirk Rich, Principal, Avison Young
  • Ryan Roemerman, Founding Executive Director, LGBT Institute
  • Jonathan Russell, Senior Director of Development, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
  • Brigid Scarbrough, National Board of Governors, Human Rights Campaign
  • Melissa Scott, Owner, Soul Bar At Pals Lounge
  • Fred Smith, Law Professor, Emory University
  • Pam Stewart, Board of Directors, GLAAD
  • Feroza Syed, Transgender Activist
  • Alex Wan, Former Atlanta City Council Member, District 6
  • Craig Washington, formerly Prevention Programs Manager, AID Atlanta
  • Miss Lawrence, Actor, Star (FOX)
  • Kelly Wentworth, Atlanta President, Muslims for Progressive Values

“During my campaign, I spoke at length of my commitment to the LGBTQ community. As Mayor, my recognition of that importance has been put into action, as I have made the hiring of an LGBTQ Affairs Liaison and the formation of an LGBTQ Advisory Board a priority for my Administration,” Bottoms said in a news release.

“I am proud to welcome Malik Brown as the City’s LGBTQ Affairs Liaison, and I am equally proud to welcome this distinguished group of community advocates and leaders, who have volunteered to serve on the City’s inaugural Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board,” the mayor added.

Bottoms didn't address the fate of police Chief Erika Shields, the first-ever openly lesbian head of the Atlanta Police Department. Shields, like all top officials from Reed's administration, submitted her resignation to Bottoms but the new mayor has yet to accept or reject it. Bottoms was one of only two candidates to pledge to keep Shields when the question was posed at a mayoral forum hosted by the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce last summer.

The mayor also made a number of promises to the city’s LGBT community during last year’s campaign, including appointing a public health director so the city can take a more active role in public health issues, including HIV. She also said Atlanta should be a “safe haven” for homeless LGBT youth and called for more housing to help address the issue. Bottoms said Atlanta should be “the voice of reason” for the state on LGBT issues.

Upon taking office, Bottoms announced a 38-member transition team, which included only one LGBT person — Raphael Bostic, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

UPDATE: The mayor's office provided an additional quote about the appointments, and added one member to the advisory board.

“During my campaign, I spoke at length of my commitment to the LGBTQ community. As Mayor, my recognition of that importance has been put into action, as I have made the formation of the LGBTQ Advisory Board and the hiring of a full-time LGBTQ Affairs Coordinator a priority,” said Mayor Bottoms. “I am proud to welcome our first full-time employee dedicated solely to liaising with our LGBTQ constituents, and I am equally proud to welcome such a distinguished group of community advocates and leaders to the City’s LGBTQ Advisory Board.”

“The Walking Dead” actor Daniel Newman will be the 33rd member of the advisor board. The Atlanta-based Newman, who came out last year, spoke out against an anti-LGBT adoption bill at a February rally.


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