Q: Do you consider yourself to be an LGBTQ ally? Why/why not?
Yes, I consider myself an ally. My entire life has been filled with friends and family like adults who identified as L, G, B, T or Q. I personal identify as Bisexual, though I have been in a monogamous relationship with a man for over 17 years. I am raising my child to understand that what is important about a partner she chooses in the future is that it is a person who treats her with respect, love and honor. During my time at PACEM and Region Ten part of my roll was defending rights of everyone and making sure that each person regardless of age, color, religion, or sexual orientation got fair treatment access to care. I was proud to be part of PACEM when we developed our policy on transgender and that it was the person stated gender that determined the official one.
Q: As an elected official, what role will you play or push your elected body to play in promoting the safety and wellness of LGBTQ people who are parents, children, homeless, of color, disabled, tourists, new to the area?
I feel that festivals such as the Pride festival has become part of the charlottesville identity and I hope that we not only continue to be LGBTQ friendly but also look to where we can grow our community to be better for everyone. All inclusive bathrooms/multi-gender bathrooms are a great place we can start changing culture in city spaces.
Q. Are you safe-space trained and, if not, are you willing to be and to push your fellow officials, staff, and partners to get trained, along with trainings in implicit bias and bystander training addressing race and gender issues that also affect members of the LGBTQ community?
I am not safe space trained and would welcome such training. I believe that the only way we will move forward is in understanding our implicit and unconscious biases. My background is in psychology and I feel we have much to unlearn as a society. I have continued my education in trainings in Mental Health First Aid, Cultural bias trainings, discussion and education sessions lead by our local SURJ chapter and being a certified peer support specialist. Educating myself, other council members and all city staff is a way to start. I would love to talk to a local safe space trainer about exactly what safe space training is and how it can be implemented.
Q: What else do you want the local LGBTQ community to know about you?
I have lived here most of my life, I went to Tandem because in the 80’s being a kid that was “different” was not okay in Nelson County. I want to make sure our schools and city accept and honor people for who they are and that “difference” is what makes us stronger as a community. I was lucky in Charlottesville, I have never felt wrong for loving a person regardless of their gender. However I do know that bias does still exist, and not everyone has been as lucky as I have. I had close friends who struggled to be accepted by their family when they came out, and the lack of accessible therapy was devastating for them. My daughter and I talk on a regular basis about LGBTQ and her own identity.