The Victory Fund has played an instrumental role in electing the first out lesbian U.S. senator, as well as openly lesbian mayors in two of the nation’s largest cities, Houston and Chicago. In the special election for Atlanta city council district 3, the non-profit that supports openly LGBTQ candidates cast its line for political catfish.
Two candidates who were running to replace deceased councilmember Ivory Young sought a Victory Fund endorsement. Matthew Cardinale was a homeless gay teenager who started a progressive newspaper after graduating college; prior to completing law school, Cardinale successfully represented himself in a Georgia Supreme Court case against Atlanta officials, and several resolutions he authored as a citizen-advocate became city policy.
The Victory Fund’s endorsement went to Antonio Brown, a political newcomer with a by-the-bootstraps narrative about surviving childhood poverty to become a millennial entrepreneur who lives in a luxury high-rise and runs a luxury clothing/footwear line, LVL XIII. He wants to serve the residents of district 3 as he has aided tens of thousands of children with his charity, Dream of Humanity, Inc.
Brown, who led the field of nine in fundraising and advanced to the April 16 runoff against Byron Amos, is a candidate made for the social media era – from the way he describes his sexual orientation to his political worldview. Responding to a Georgia Equality candidate questionnaire, the closest Brown came to identifying as gay or bisexual was noting, “For the past ten years, I have been a steadfast ambassador of the cause.”
That coy, Kardashian-esque phrasing was more forthcoming than Brown was on the campaign trail, as he made no mention of his ambassadorship at any of the forums and events I attended as a district 3 resident. Of course, there are more important things than a candidate’s sexual orientation, which is why I supported one of Brown and Cardinale’s opponents.
I could forgive the Victory Fund for endorsing an overqualified semi-closeted candidate (when pressed by queer media, Brown identified as bisexual), but another thing I never heard from Brown during the campaign was a political philosophy deeper than, “I believe the children are our future.” His impersonation of a politician was superb as he performed spoken-word memes, but the vapidness of his responses left me in awe of his business and philanthropic success.
It turns out LVL XIII is so popular that none of the products listed on its website is currently available. A couple of T-shirts are for sale via online department stores, but it has never been nor is it “currently sold in Nordstrom nationwide,” as claimed in Brown’s Victory Fund biography.
Brown operates five LVL XIII-branded entities in Georgia, all of which are in arrears with the secretary of state, as is Brown’s charity, which has collected and disbursed zero dollars and zero cents in its two-year history, according to non-profit watchdog Guidestar. Brown was in a Fulton County Superior Court hearing this week over income tax irregularities that he described as “a clerical error.”
Separately, he also acknowledged the latest chapters in his rags-to-riches story included receiving nine eviction notices at his Atlantic Station condo. One request for a military deferment was denied when it was proven Brown had never enlisted.
He seems like the type of businessperson my most cynical friend would call an entremanure, and he’s days away from being my representative on the Atlanta city council with the help and wisdom of our queer friends in Washington D.C.