Clarence Fluker came to Washington in summer 2001 to start a master’s program at American University and never left.
The Cleveland native started college in Cincinnati but after two years transferred to finish his undergraduate degree in Baltimore. He’s been active in LGBT activism work nearly his entire time in Washington. It includes everything from volunteering on the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs in the Williams administration, being a former Black Pride president and board member, to eventually taking full-time work in the Fenty administration and now in Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration where he’s communications and special initiatives director at Serve D.C. — the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism.
For his years of work, he’s being honored by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance at its 42nd annual anniversary reception slated for Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle, N.W.) (get tickets online at glaa.org/anniversary).
“I felt humbled, surprised and excited, all those things at once when I heard,” Fluker says. “It’s humbling because I know many people who have received it in the past and I’ve always admired them. It’s very humbling to know that my name would be on that list of names, especially because of the work GLAA does. They’re really about the business of promoting equality in the District in a serious and meaningful way. … They’re one of the groups I most respect because of the way they push forward. They really get into the nitty gritty.”
Fluker considers himself fortunate to have worked in various mayoral offices. He says it’s not terribly unusual but neither is it common.
“I don’t think of it as transferring allegiances because I know former Mayor Fenty and Mayor Gray both had one thing on their mind when they got up each morning and that was to push the city forward in the best way possible,” he says.
Fluker lives in D.C.’s Eckington neighborhood in Ward 5 (where he’s lived his entire time in Washington) and is single. He enjoys theater, museums, reading biographies, keeping up with politics and pop culture, volunteering, NFL and NBA sports, working out and spending time with friends in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I started the coming out process when I was 17. The hardest person to tell turned out to be the person who has been my strongest advocate and one of my best friends, my mother.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I admire Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin and RuPaul so much it is hard to only pick one. I am inspired by each of them in different ways.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Yesterday, today or tomorrow, the best place to have a good time is anywhere your friends are.
Describe your dream wedding.
My dream wedding is a quiet intimate ceremony with family and close friends who have come together to see me marry a man that is both my lover and best friend. In contrast, the evening reception will be loud and lively, with love, jazz and glamour woven into every detail. Dreams do come true!
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I believe that all social justice issues are LGBT issues because LGBT people and our families, friends and communities we live in are diverse. With that said, I am particularly passionate about access to quality education and support for boys and young men of color.
What historical outcome would you change?
In recent history, Al Gore would have been sworn in as president of the United States.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The most memorable pop culture moment of my lifetime to date has been the death of Michael Jackson. He was a legend and his legacy and influence will be felt for generations in art, music and culture.
On what do you insist?
I insist on kindness. To give and be open to receiving kindness is a way of life.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. (Henry David Thoreau)
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
I am currently working on a memoir that explores my relationships with African-American men, straight and gay, and the roles they played in shaping my identity. The manuscript title is “Walking Like A Man.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I know there is a God. I believe that we are all God’s children and in us, we house beautiful spirits. It is our responsibility to let that spirit shine for others to see.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Spend some time with Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the whole thing not just the one quote everyone cites in speeches and uses on plaques.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Student loan forgiveness.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That the LGBT community isn’t diverse.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
My favorite LGBT movie is “Punks” written and directed by Patrick Ian Polk. It was the first film I ever saw that showed a romantic relationship between two young black gay men. I fell deeper in love with love after seeing it.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I champion more social customs and traditional etiquette than less.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
To be old and gray and proud of the life I lived.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I had been more aware then of just how much strength I had inside myself.
We seem to have a fondness for each other.