By JIM GRAHAM
As an openly gay man elected to the D.C. Council I am proud of the diversity of Ward One.
Enhancing and preserving that diversity is important to me. With 1,000 new residents moving into the District each month — many into Ward One — our diversity is changing every day.
Ward One is diverse in every sense of the word. It is home to more than 80,000 residents from all over the world — 50 different countries are represented and 24 different languages are spoken here. It is also a ward where one out of five persons lives in poverty — to whom I have a special responsibility as chairman of the Committee on Human Services.
By choosing to live in Ward One, every one of us has an opportunity to move beyond our own personal identities and learn from persons different from ourselves. Our differences can make us stronger as individuals and more resilient as a community.
A significant part of that diversity has been and continues to be lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons.
Indeed, Ward One is well on its way to being the center of D.C.’s LGBTQ community.
Consider the facts:
• On Georgia Avenue, in Ward One, Casa Ruby provides care and support for transgender persons and Us Helping Us has been supporting gay men of color and others living with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic.
• At 14th and U, the DC Center provides myriad services and programs for the LGBTQ community and our allies. Neither the DC Center nor the U.S. Post Office — both of which I helped bring to the Reeves Center — will be displaced if there is a change in ownership of the Reeves Center. Whitman-Walker’s Elizabeth Taylor Center is also just steps away.
• Perry’s and Duplex Diner, Nellie’s and Town, and MOVA generate responsible nightlife energy in the Ward. The owners and staff of each of these establishments deserve our thanks and support.
• So many members of the LGBTQ community volunteer their time and resources to make Ward One a better place for all. Sergio Herrera (founder of Columbia Heights Day) and Kent Boese (ANC commissioner) are just two examples of change makers in the Ward.
• David Franco, D.C. Native and co-founder of Level Two Development, is investing millions in innovative housing and retail options. “The Harper” located at 14th and Wallach Place, N.W., opening in January 2014, will offer 144 studio/ junior one-bedroom apartments and will be home to Universal Gear.
• Students at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus form LGBTQ affinity groups, regularly participate in the annual Capital Pride Parade, and work to create a more supportive school climate for all.
• The Latin American Youth Center provides short-term housing and counseling services for LGBTQ youth that have run away or been thrown out of their homes.
• All Souls Church, Unitarian has been a safe place for the LGBTQ community to openly worship for decades. Since 2009, dozens of same-sex couples have legally married at All Souls Church.
I learned long ago that assembling diversity and achieving harmony in diversity are two different things. Unfortunately, LGBTQ persons suffer verbal and physical attacks far too often. I have worked closely with Chief Cathy Lanier and her officers in efforts to make MPD vigilant in their investigations of hate crimes.
The LGBTQ community is a welcome addition to the diversity of Ward One. So much so, that the Capital Pride Parade should be extended up 14th Street!
Jim Graham represents Ward 1 on the D.C. City Council.