Be Counted in This Election, Then Get Ready for the Next
October 28, 2010
by John Long
As much as weï¿½ll all be pleased to see an end to the political advertising on TV after the Nov. 2 elections, first we have to go to the polls. Remember that our vote is very important to candidates who have shown their support as allies of the LGBT community.
Four Freedoms Democratic Club and KC Pride both ran ads listing their endorsements in the October issue of Camp. In case you missed it, weï¿½ve reprinted their endorsements on our website, campkc.com, so that you can print them out and bring them with you to the polls. Vote Nov. 2!
Of course, as one political campaign season winds down, another begins. Mayor Mark Funkhouser just announced that he will be running for his second term, and more mayoral challengers have also announced their candidacies for the 2011 election. Funkhouser appeared Oct. 20 at an LGBT Town Hall meeting at UMKCï¿½s Student Union, which was held in conjunction with the LGCCKC annual City-Wide Organization Meeting.
The meeting began with the mayorï¿½s presentation, and then he took questions. After that, organizations gave brief talks about their missions for the LGBT community. The event was hosted by the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Greater Kansas City (LGCCKC), Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, PROMO, Four Freedoms and KC Pride Democratic Clubs.
Funkhouser gave a standard presentation, with lots of charts and figures, about the state of the city, housing, schools, and the migration of people out of Kansas City. As citizens of Kansas City, we may be interested in knowing these facts. But the presentation should have been tailored to the LGBT community, and it was not.
The mayor showed charts about how Kansas City has seen attrition of families to the suburbs, but he was speaking to an LGBT community that lives primarily in Kansas City. Many in the LGBT community have been urban pioneers, living in borderline neighborhoods, renovating homes and paying taxes that support schools theyï¿½ll never use. Funkhouser offered no recognition of that in the presentation.
One person who spoke from the floor asked whether there would be increases in police not only to protect the general public but also women and those in the LGBT community who are often targeted. The mayor spoke of hopes to increase the diversity of the police force, but when he talked about diversity, he only mentioned racial diversity. Funkhouser missed an opportunity to address recruitment of members of the LGBT community to the police force.
Other topics covered by the questions from the floor included one from me about developing stronger efforts by the cityï¿½s Convention & Visitors Association to get LGBT conferences and tourism, and one from another audience member about getting assistance in the future in finding a new physical location for an LGBT community center. The mayor was open to both ideas and encouraged us to get involved in the city if we want those things to happen.
The mayor was also thanked for his assistance to the Pride festival in June when organizers had to suddenly change the venue to Richard Berkley Riverfront Park after Penn Valley Park was ruined by the muddy damage from RockFest. The mayor responded to all questions with great interest and encouraged those who want to get involved to sign up for committees or contact him through his Facebook page.
I appreciated hearing the mayorï¿½s responses to the questions, and I was very impressed that he stayed through the entire evening, listening to the organizations make their presentations. He didnï¿½t have to do that. He easily could have left right after his portion of the program.
But it is not good enough for this mayor or any other to suggest that if we want action for the LGBT community, then we should join a committee. Volunteerism is fine, but the paid staff at City Hall should be aware of what the LGBT community brings to this city, without people having to spend their time volunteering to tell them.
Stepping Up to
Support Bullied Teens
The nation has been saddened by the recent rash of suicides by gay youth who were bullied. To help young people in despair, Brad Osborn has compiled a list of useful resources on page eight in this issue. Kansas City responded in October with a candlelight vigil on the Plaza, a steady stream of Facebook communications in the ï¿½It Gets Betterï¿½ campaign and a new support group for transgender youth in Kansas City created by EQUAL. This group held its first meeting in October and will meet the third Thursday of every month at 5 p.m. in Room 325 of the new Student Union at UMKC.