May 5, 2011 | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Queery: Lateefah Williams

Lateefah Williams (Blade photo by Michael Key)

After earning a law degree from Georgetown and practicing a short time in insurance defense and personal injury work, Lateefah Williams wasn’t fulfilled and wondered if practicing law was her destiny.

A campaign management training program in Chicago that resulted in her working several months on the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) found Williams getting “the political bug,” as she puts it.

“I was still a fairly recent law school graduate and still figuring out what I wanted to do,” she says. “There was nothing holding me back really, so I decided to go for it.”

Williams has stayed active in politics with the mid-Atlantic rep on the Judicial Council for Young Democrats of America and locally as the new president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, a D.C.-based LGBT political group. She’d been attending meetings for about four years and sees the Stein Club as a great way to combine her joint passions for Democratic politics and LGBT rights.

“It’s a very strong club and it’s in a good place,” she says. “But like everything, it can be improved upon. I’d like to see the club’s outreach expanded into the communities that are not as familiar with it, into other parts of the city where there aren’t as many LGBT residents. I’d love for us to have activities in all eight wards and get some new members from a broader range of communities.”

By day, Williams works as political and legislative director for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, a union that represents about 11,000 current and retired Metro employees. It’s by far Metro’s biggest employee union and Williams says her legal background, though not required, comes in handy.

The 34-year-old Williams, a lesbian, grew up in Prince George’s County, Md., and still has family in both Maryland and the District. She’s out to her family but single. Williams lives on Capitol Hill in the H Street Corridor/Atlas neighborhood in Ward 6.

She never misses a Redskins game and enjoys basketball too. She likes reading, politics and following current events in her free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

The hardest person to come out to was myself.  After that, I started coming out to other people when I was 25.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Barbara Jordan, Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

Merge @ Club Daedalus

Describe your dream wedding.

Small and low-key

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Education and youth issues

What historical outcome would you change?

The assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil unrest that followed, causing the destruction of then-vibrant commercial corridors in black communities.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

The emergence of cell phones and the Internet; Ellen DeGeneres coming out in a national sitcom; social media’s impact on electing President Barack Obama.

On what do you insist?

Everyone should be treated with respect.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“I voted today in the D.C. special election. If you are a D.C. resident and you didn’t vote during early voting, please vote today! Also, note that D.C. has same day voter registration, so there is no excuse!”

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Scribbles of a Sensitive Soul”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Go about my business as usual.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

God

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

To be inclusive and ensure that all members of the LGBT community are at the table during the decision-making process.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

To protect my immediate family and close friends.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That all lesbians should identify as femme or dom/butch and those who do not should change to fit in one of those boxes.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Milk” and “The Aggressives”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Women are expected to be domestic.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I don’t covet recognition, but the biggest prize I can receive is the knowledge that I have made a positive impact on the world.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

The world is not always fair and you will experience setbacks, but don’t let them affect your confidence, bring down your spirit, or prevent you from moving forward.

Why Washington?

I was raised in the Washington suburbs, so I am originally from this area. I chose to move into the city because of the easy access to cultural amenities, the convenience and the open-minded residents.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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