Bob Fenwick is running for a seat on the Charlottesville City Council. He answered our question about LGBTQ issues. Don’t forget to vote: the coming primary takes place on June 11.
Q: Do you consider yourself to be an LGBTQ ally? Why/why not?
I consider myself a strong ally. Throughout my life I have interacted with other people in a way that respects their individuality and their fundamental rights under our system of government to live their lives as they see fit. I feel very uncomfortable in categorizing people according to sexual preference, race, economic situation, religion or any other personal choice situation but I understand that education of the public requires specific and personal strategies. In my Army service I didn’t ask my soldiers if they were gay before going into battle. In my professional business life I never asked prospective employees what their sexual preference was. I never filtered customers through a personal choice filter. It was always my goal to accept people as they were and conduct my relationship in a way that would encourage that conduct from them to me. I have supported LGBTQ issues not just with proclamations but with efforts to properly fund these efforts.
On August 12 I watched with admiration the efforts of Cvillians who have been marginalized because of their sexual preference put aside any feelings of not belonging and take their place in the front ranks of those of us who confronted armed groups of thuggish cowards who would batter us into submission. I will always remember their bravery in putting their community ahead of any personal slights they had suffered.
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?
During my time on Council I was vigilant to ensure any Pride event was promoted and looked forward to attending the Pride Festival, not just for the entertainment but to watch members of our community, young and old, revel in being themselves and realizing they now have a network of support in their struggle for equality. The struggle will continue for some time against an evil ideology that publicly identifies itself with sexual orientation opposition, nazism, white supremacy, anti semitism and other social disorders.
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?
Early this year I participated in a discussion group sponsored by SURJ to help me articulate the efforts of one of the driving force organizations in our community in raising awareness and developing strategies to deal with the unbalanced situation we see in our city and country.
Every year or so the city sends its councilors to a group session. When this happens I will insist on presentations of safe space, implicit bias and bystander training.
Q. What else do you want the local LGBTQ community to know about you?
If there are any questions anybody has about a public statement or act that seems to be contrary to my answers to these questions I would appreciate a person to person conversation. Rumors should be dealt with immediately. If we have a difference of opinion I’m ready to be educated. We have enough trouble living our civic life when we speak truth to power without having to deal with rumors. We should always speak truth to power but we should also have the awareness to speak truth to each other.