Pride taps pastor, officer as grand marshals

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imageThe Atlanta Pride Committee announced Tuesday that gay Rev. Chris Glaser (photo, right) and Atlanta Police Department Officer Dani Lee Harris (left) are its grand marshals for the Nov. 1 Pride Parade.

Glaser is the pastor at Virginia Highland Church, while Harris is the police department’s LGBT liaison and Pride’s first openly intersex grand marshal.

“Both these selections are very deserving,” says J. Sheffield, events manager for Pride. “They are out and active in very public roles, and they are great representatives for our community.”

As an author of 11 books, Glaser is an authority on spirituality in the context of sexual orientation. His titles include “As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-Gender Marriage,” “Uncommon Calling,” “Coming Out to God” and “The Word is Out.”

The Pride Committee selected the grand marshals Aug. 29 from nominations submitted by the general public. That’s two weeks before Harris spoke on behalf of the police department at a rally at City Hall against the Sept. 10 APD raid on the Atlanta Eagle, thrusting her role as LGBT liaison into the spotlight again.

Harris was not informed of the raid before it happened, and police Chief Richard Pennington has since said she should have been part of the process.

Citing Harris’ courage to publicly come out as intersex in a 2008 Southern Voice article, Sheffield says that the rally appearance is just another example of the officer’s bravery.

“Emotions were understandably on high, and the fact that she stood up there and faced that crowd and their questions, even when she was left out of the loop prior to the incident, just shows how committed she is to her role in the APD and our community,” Sheffield says.

The Pride parade rolls at 1 p.m. on Nov. 1 with Harris and Glaser in positions of honor.

A portion of the grand marshal biographies from today’s announcement:

Chris has served nearly four decades as an activist for the full acceptance of LGBT people in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) and the broader church. From 1976-1978, he was the only openly gay member of a national Presbyterian task force on homosexuality and ordination.

He was founding Director of the Lazarus Project, a first-of-its-kind ministry of reconciliation between the church and the LGBT community hosted by the West Hollywood (CA) Presbyterian Church and funded by the denomination. He has held a variety of leadership roles in what is now More Light Presbyterians. For five years, Chris edited Open Hands, a quarterly magazine for LGBT-welcoming congregations in seven denominations in the U.S. and Canada.

Dani moved to Georgia, graduated cum laude from T.C.I. College, and began as a recruit in the Atlanta Police Department academy in 2003. At the Zone 2 precinct, she was assigned a steady beat after two short months. Seven months later, she transferred to the Lenox Mall sub-station as a plain-clothes officer on the warrant entry team. She was also appointed to Com-net officer, a liaison between the Zone 2 Business District and APD.

Dani was also a member of the “Out Officers Team” from the time she was a recruit. She became APD’s second GLBT Liaison in November 2005.

“I am committed to bridging the gap between the GLBT community and the Atlanta Police Department,” Dani says. “… I assist the training academy in the instruction of recruits regarding GLBT issues, present crime prevention classes to GLBT groups and businesses, ensure that bias crimes targeting the GLBT community are properly documented, and notify the appropriate investigators unit.”


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