Let me just quickly say, that if all the facts and truth surrounding the Harris situation were brought to light – it would be a much different story than has been portrayed. I commend Officer Harris for identifying as intersex, and firmly believe that Harris had a great opportunity as someone bending gender to represent our community and work with APD to create understanding, a voice, and support for those of our community that are rarely seen in the larger “modern queer movement”.
Much too often trans, queers, benders – those that fall outside of the clearly defined male/female and gay/lesbian categories are left out of our movement. Harris had a phenomenal opportunity to represent such individuals in her position as the GLBT Liaison. Sadly, Harris (in the midst of coming to terms with her identity and gender exploration) failed to make much of an impact and is not free of mistakes herself.
Right now Harris is going to the media and portraying herself as a victim and blaming the city. And while some of Harris’s statements are correct, she has failed to shed light on the mistakes she made in her position – some of which are the reason as to why Harris has found himself/herself in the current position. As we continue to demand that APD and our city clarify details and speak openly with citizens, we need to also demand that Harris be open and honest with us on the mistakes she made and take responsibility for decisions within her control that have affect the current situation.
Back to purpose of this letter – For the first time the city of Atlanta has decided to elect two people into the position of GLBT Liaison. This is awesome. We have a Mayor that has spoken very highly of our community and has even stated that he “…won’t stop until our police department is looked upon as a model for GLBT community relations in the nation.”
Mayor Reed has made a step in this direction by providing this city with two amazing officers to represent our community. As a community we should celebrate this support and use it. Your article could have taken a more proactive angle – introducing your readers to Officer Sharp, finding out what he hopes to bring to the table, and what his passions for the queer community are.
In providing this support to Officer Sharp and allowing him to have a voice through your publication, GA Voice could have aided in the beginning of discussion and visibility to our community. Instead of becoming consumed in the drama and sensitive personal aspects of the Harris situation, GA Voice could have given Officer Sharp a platform to address the queer community in an empowering way. Officer Sharp and Officer Powell can only make an impact within both APD and our community only if we support them.
It is no secret that the queer community in Atlanta has been hurt over the past few years, and has been screaming out to be heard – wanting to be visible and validated. In the past few years several intense situations have occurred and resolve and progress in needed. The community has Officer Sharp and Powell as a resource to help promote understanding and equality in our city. Queers have the responsibility to be true to our identities, express our beautiful ability to approach sexuality/gender in such a fluid way, and make room within our community for all types of queer individuals.
I have done some research on both Officer Powell and Sharp, and have even had several personal conversation with Sharp – both are really amazing people, and have a strong passion for our community. Officer Sharp and Powell have the ability and voice to express concerns and needs of the queer community in a unique way. If we as a community approach the situation from the right angle, we can aid in creating understanding, sensitivity and support within the Police Department. And let us not be ignorant – the Police Department is a social institution with a lot of power and a lot of influence. With the approach of Pride and a month full of events for queers, our community should welcome Officer Sharp and Powell and allow them to help move our movement forward.
I ask you to please consider my voice and concerns as a reader of GA Voice. Please be attentive to opportunities to empower your readers and progress our movement. I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this letter. The above thoughts are just my opinions, and I ask you to consider the opinions of all queers when writing for our community.
Again, thank you.
Dan (last name withheld upon request)
Editor’s note: This letter was submitted to the editors regarding our coverage of the announcement of Atlanta Police Department’s new LGBT Liaison, Officer Brian Sharp. The letter was published with permission from the author.