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UPDATE: GLLU gets temporary new sergeant

Mahl ‘rotating through as part of his training’

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GLLU, gay news, gay politics dc

Members of the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

A sergeant from the D.C. Police Department’s Sixth District began work on July 1 as supervisor of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit as part of a three-month training program and will return to the Sixth District upon completion of the program, according to a police spokesperson.

Earlier reports from police sources, now said to be incorrect, indicated that Sgt. Matthew Mahl would become the new permanent supervisor of the GLLU, marking the first time the unit has had a full-time supervisor assigned exclusively to the unit since 2009.

“Sergeant Mahl is an affiliate member [of the GLLU] and he is rotating through as part of his training,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier said on Friday in an email to gay activist Peter Rosenstein.

In a separate email, police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade, “Sgt. Mahl is an affiliate and like every member who attends affiliate training, he is rotating through and will return to his assigned element at the end of his detail.”

Lanier told the Blade in an interview last week that GLLU affiliate members are detailed to the GLLU headquarters in Dupont Circle for a 90-day training period before being rotated back to their regular assignment in one of the department’s seven districts.

Some local LGBT activists have urged Lanier to appoint a full-time sergeant to head the GLLU instead of retaining the unit’s current status of being headed by a sergeant who divides his duties between the GLLU and the department’s Latino Liaison Unit.

Since 2009, Sgt. Carlos Mejia has served as supervisor of both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit. He has been praised by LGBT activists who say he has been doing an excellent job.

But the activists, including leaders of the local group Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence (GLOV), have said the liaison units would be better served – as they had in past years – with a full-time sergeant assigned exclusively to each of the units, including the GLLU.

“I’m glad that Sgt. Mahl is rotating through the GLLU for training but we are still hoping that previous commitments from the chief and the mayor will secure a fulltime permanent sergeant for the unit,” Rosenstein said on Friday.

In her email to the Blade, Crump said Mejia and Sgt. Kenny Temsupasiri are permanently assigned to the Special Liaison Division, which oversees the GLLU, the Latino Liaison Unit and two other special units — the Asian Liaison Unit and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit.

Temsupasiri heads both the Asian and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Units.

Mahl told the Blade on Thursday that during his tenure at the Special Liaison Division he would serve as full-time supervisor of the GLLU and Mejia would serve exclusively as the Latino Liaison Unit’s supervisor.

“He’s helping me out getting things settled down here,” Mahl said of Mejia.

Capt. Edward Delgado, who heads the Special Liaison Division, sent an email on Thursday to LGBT advocates and various LGBT organizations announcing Mahl’s assignment at the GLLU.

“I would like for each of you to introduce yourself and inform him of the services that each of your organizations provide the community,” Delgado said in his email. “I know that he has been out in the community conducting meet and greet sessions. Therefore, let’s give Sgt. Mahl a warm welcome and support him while he is detailed to the Special Liaison Division,” he said.

Mahl said he has been on the police force for eight and a half years. He began as an officer assigned to the Third District and was assigned to the Sixth District shortly after being promoted to sergeant in 2009.

He said he’s looking forward to working with the LGBT community during his tenure as a GLLU supervisor.

 

Original post below:

A sergeant from the D.C. Police Department’s Sixth District has been named supervisor of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, marking the first time the unit has had a full-time supervisor assigned exclusively to the unit since 2009.

Sgt. Matthew Mahl has replaced Sgt. Carlos Mejia, who had been serving as supervisor of both the GLLU and the Latino Liaison Unit.

LGBT activists, while praising Mejia for his work at the GLLU, have long called on police officials to name a sergeant to head the GLLU who spends all of his or her time assigned to the unit.

But the head of the police division that oversees the GLLU and three other special police liaison units, Capt. Edward Delgado, suggested in an email sent to LGBT activists on Thursday that Mahl’s assignment with the GLLU could be short-lived.

“I would like to welcome Sergeant Matthew Mahl who is an Affiliate Sergeant from the Sixth District,” Delgado said in his email. “He is detailed to the unit to get a better understanding of GLLU operations and requirements…Therefore, let’s give Sergeant Mahl a warm welcome and support him while he is detailed to the Special Liaison Division.”

A police spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached to determine whether Mahl’s tenure at the GLLU is consider permanent or temporary.

The Special Liaison Division oversees the GLLU as well as the Latino Liaison Unit, the Asian and Pacific Islander Liaison Unit, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit.

Mahl said Mejia, who is helping him “get on the ground running” at the GLLU, will remain as head of the Latino Liaison Unit.

“The plan is for him to just take over full time the Latino Liaison and myself the Gay and Lesbian Liaison,” Mahl told the Blade on Thursday. “He’s helping me out getting things settled down here.”

Former D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey created the GLLU in the late 1990s as one of the first such units in a large metropolitan police department to be given full authority to make arrests and investigate crimes as well as reach out to the LGBT community.

Current D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier expanded the GLLU and the other three liaison units over the past four years to include dozens of affiliate officers assigned to each of the department’s seven police districts.

The GLLU affiliate officers, who receive training on LGBT related issues, respond to calls in their respective districts on matters such as anti-LGBT hate crimes or LGBT related domestic violence.

The GLLU’s headquarters in Dupont Circle currently includes five full-time “core” officers along with Mahl as supervisor. An aide to Lanier said last week that there are currently 99 GLLU affiliate officers based in the seven police districts.

Sgt. Brett Parson served as full-time supervisor of the GLLU from 2001 to 2007, receiving praise from LGBT activists for having a highly visible presence in the community. Parson served as head of the then Special Liaison Office, which oversaw the GLLU and the other three liaison units, between 2007 and 2009.

In 2009 Parson also took on the role of GLLU head after his replacement, Sgt. Tania Bell, left the unit. Later that year Parson requested a transfer to a street patrol position, saying his first love as a cop was to focus more on active crime-fighting duties. It was at that time that Lanier assigned Mejia to serve as supervisor of the GLLU while retaining his existing post as supervisor of the Latino Liaison Unit.

Lanier said that due to city budget cuts and police spending constraints, it became necessary to assign Mejia to take on the dual role of supervisor of both units.

The two other special liaison units – the Asian Pacific Islander Liaison Unit and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit – retained a full-time sergeant serving as supervisor.

Mahl said he was approached about taking on the role as head of the GLLU by Deputy Police Chief Diane Groomes and Delgado.

He said he has been on the force for eight and a half years. He said he began as an officer in the Third District and was promoted to sergeant in 2009 before being assigned to the Sixth District. Mahl said he looks forward to his duties with the GLLU and will be meeting with LGBT advocates and various LGBT organizations over the next few weeks.

“I don’t know how long these things last, but I’m here for now,” he said, when asked whether he was told how long his detail with the GLLU would last.

As of Thursday, the department had not issued an official announcement of Mahl’s assignment to the GLLU.

A.J. Singletary, chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), which monitors police related issues, said he was unaware of Mahl’s assignment as GLLU head until the Blade contacted him about the development.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “Having someone talking on this role is something we have been asking for and the community has been asking for. GLOV has always called for having a full-time sergeant.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. brian

    July 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    ****
    “I don’t know how long these things last, but I’m here for now,” he said, when asked whether he was told how long his detail with the GLLU would last.
    ****
    When it comes to commitment and support of MPD’s core GLLU unit, that is the kind of uncertainty DC’s LGBT residents have come to expect from MPD’s leadership since 2007.

    Let’s hope Sgt. Mahl is permitted to stay at GLLU and assist in serious policing to deter hate crimes against DC’s LGBT residents and visitors.

    We appreciate your service, Sgt. Mahl.

  2. brian

    July 8, 2012 at 8:17 am

    ******
    But the activists, including leaders of the local group Gays and Lesbian Opposing Violence (GLOV), have said the liaison units would be better served – as they had in past years – with a full-time sergeant assigned exclusively to each of the units, including the GLLU.
    ******

    At a time when anti-LGBT hate crimes are on the rise in DC, Chief Lanier, through command actions that belie her public relations platitudes, continues to show her barely disguised contempt for DC’s LGBT communities. Items from an ongoing, sorry record…

    — In Lanier’s recent interview, she sent up another anti-GLLU trial-balloon, asserting her continued desire to “put the GLLU unit out of business.” Apparently, citing an inexplicable “people are people” homily, DC’s Chief does not really believe that DC’s LGBT population is worthy of special liaison community policing.
    — Accordingly, we learn now that Sgt. Mahl’s assignment to GLLU will only be temporary. GLLU’s core unit continues its downgraded and confusing status by MPD’s chiefs. It’s more death by a thousand cuts.
    — Lanier’s sterling, but cherry-picked task force study of MPD’s handling of hate crimes and LGBT community policing has EXCLUDED our premier local civil right advocacy groups from decisional participation in that task force (GLAA, GLOV and DCTC). These organizations enjoy the broad support of, and credibility within DC’s LGBT populations, as they are the activists most experienced and familiar with MPD’s LGBT community policing practices.
    — Through the June 29 hate crimes hearings at Council, we’ve learned that MPD’s LGBT Critical Incident Team has been more of a PR exercise than anything in which MPD seriously participates/ communicates with the LGBT community.
    — Under pressure by LGBT activists to do so, Chief Lanier has resurrected former Chief Ramsey’s *Biased Policing Task Force* (while renaming it as if to deny that any biased policing takes place at MPD). But at the same Council hearing last week, we learned that MPD’s leadership continues its own institutional bias against DC transgender residents and stakeholders by again EXCLUDING DCTC from participation in THAT MPD task force.

    When DC’s LGBT residents and visitors witness this kind of record– even institutional bias and discrimination from the highest levels of the Metropolitan Police Department, is it any wonder that so many do not trust DC’s police department under Chief Cathy Lanier?

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Virginia

Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video

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Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

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Fairfax schools returns LGBTQ-themed books in high school libraries

Review found ‘no pedophilia’ in texts as critics claimed

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(Book cover insert courtesy of Amazon)

The Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that following a detailed review by two committees appointed by school officials it has returned two LGBTQ themed books to its high school libraries that had been temporarily withdrawn after being challenged by critics who claimed they included sexually explicit content inappropriate for students.

The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which is described as an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain descriptions of sexual acts.

But supporters of the books have argued that they have won praise by literary critics and, while describing intimate relationships, they tell stories that do not fall into the category of pornography.  

Fairfax County Public Schools, the name used for the county’s public school system, on Tuesday said in a statement that a thorough review of the books by two committees consisting of educators, school officials, parents and some students found that neither book contained content that could be considered to depict pedophilia as claimed by some parents and others opposing the two books.

School officials announced they had temporarily withdrawn the two books from school libraries following a Sept. 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board where strong objections to the two books were raised by parents.

“Two books that were subject to formal challenge have been deemed appropriate for high school readers following a two-month review process and will be reinstated to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) libraries,” Tuesday’s statement by the school system says.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the statement continues. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

The statement says the final decision to reinstate the books was made by Noel Klimenko, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for its Instructional Services Department.

The two books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications. Both have received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, an annual award that recognizes the year’s 10 books written for adults that the association says have a special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.

“The robust committee process took place over several weeks and considered whether the books flouted regulations by being obscene or harmful to juveniles as defined by the Code of Virginia,” the school system statement says. “The members also considered the work in line with an excerpt from the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook pertaining to possessing obscene visual imagery as defined in the Code of Virginia,” the statement says.

“After careful consideration, neither books were deemed to have fallen foul of these regulations,” it concludes.

The decision by Fairfax school officials to reinstate the two books came about six weeks after more than 425 LGBTQ students and allies from over 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter to the school board and the school system’s superintendent urging them to reinstate the two books.

The Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of LGBTQ and allied students in Fairfax County, organized the joint letter.

“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly every high school in Fairfax County Public Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are students of color, low-income, gender expansive and not out to our families and communities,” the letter states.

“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public Schools libraries,” the letter says.

It points out that “hundreds of books in our schools already depict heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy,” and says singling out LGBTQ themed books with similar stories of intimacy for rejection is unfair.

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Transgender Zimbabwean woman in Md. wins asylum case

Mattie Tux Horton lives in Rockville

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Mattie Tux Horton, right, with her lawyer Ankush Dhupar in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Mattie Tux Horton/Facebook)

A transgender woman from Zimbabwe who lives in Rockville won her asylum case in late October after living in the U.S. for the past five years. 

Mattie Tux Horton was represented by Ankush Dhupar from the Los Angeles law firm Paul Hastings LLP.

“I feel at ease,” said Horton. “Although a lot is going on in the [United States], it’s [significantly] different compared to where I’m coming from.”

Horton said that she now considers the U.S. to be her home. 

Although she has been living in Maryland for a while now, receiving asylum stripped away the anxiety associated with returning to Zimbabwe had the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency denied her request. 

With protection from the U.S. government, Horton gets to live in a safe environment and without the vile treatment she encountered in Zimbabwe because of her transness.

In her hometown of Bulawayo, Horton faced constant public humiliation and was once fired from her job as a graphic artist because of her dress presentation, according to an interview she did with Medium. 

She was attacked by a violent group of men in 2014, and was outed later that year following a holiday trip to South Africa, according to the interview. 

This incident garnered media attention and The Sunday News, a Zimbabwean newspaper, published an article in which it misgendered Horton throughout the entire piece. 

This prompted Horton to apply for a U.S. visa so she could attend an LGBTQ leadership conference in D.C. and remove herself from the cacophony in her town.

The Sunday News later ran a story about Horton’s departure in which they misgendered her again and referred to her as a “transgender man” and “alleged gay.”

Horton arrived in D.C. in December 2016 and began her asylum process there. 

While visiting a friend in Los Angeles, she connected with the city’s Human Rights First chapter that referred her to Dhupar, who represented her pro bono. 

Dhupar is a labor and employment law attorney at Paul Hastings LLC and he volunteered to work on Horton’s case as part of his firm’s partnership with Human Rights First to do pro bono LGBTQ advocacy work.

Horton’s asylum was his first ever immigration case.

While the legal underpinnings of immigration were new to him, Dhupar did not struggle to situate his modus operandi because of how compelling Horton’s case was.

“I always referred to the facts of the case because the law is geared towards helping situations like [Horton’s] where someone fears for their life in their home country,” said Dhupar. 

Dhupar also added that Horton’s case was a prime example of why the asylum process exists.

Horton submitted a psychological evaluation in February 2021 that would expedite her asylum case and grant her an interview notice sooner than usual. 

At that point she had lived in the U.S. for more than four years, but she still had to wait a couple more months before she was called for an interview. This caused Horton to feel trepid about whether her case was strong enough. 

“I went through depression and had psychological breakdowns,” said Horton. “I have friends who were called in for an interview months after moving here and didn’t have to wait five years [like I did].”

This hurdle, however, gave Horton and Dhupar adequate time to build an indisputable case. The two built a personal relationship that kept them vigilant despite the abounding uncertainty. 

“She was a perfect advocate for herself and took the initiative to make sure the case did not fall on the backburner,” said Dhupar. 

Now that she has won her case, Horton is taking time to relish on her recent success. 

“I’m going to take a breather,” she said.

She also plans to secure full-time employment in 2022 and build a makeup brand. Horton currently works part time as a steering committee member — a role she says is fulfilling — at the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project- Transgender Law Center.

There, she links Black trans and gender nonconforming individuals to education, employment, legal and healthcare resources.

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