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Gay minister seeks Baltimore Council seat

AIDS activist, father of 5, is second out gay man to run

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Kinji Scott, gay news, Washington Blade
Kinji Scott, gay news, Washington Blade

Rev. Kinji Scott is running for Baltimore City Council in the 5th district.

Citing flaws in the Baltimore City government and drawing upon his own experience of discrimination, Rev. Kinji Scott has filed as a candidate for the Baltimore City Council in the 5th District. In doing so, he becomes the second openly gay candidate to run for the City Council in 2016. Kelly Cross recently announced he is a candidate for the 12th District.

Scott, 46, and a father of five sons, will be among seven candidates vying for the seat in the 5th Councilmanic District, which includes the West Baltimore neighborhoods of Pimlico, Mount Washington, Cheswolde and Glen. It has been represented by the retiring Rochelle “Rikki” Spector for the past 36 years.

“I am running for office because the Baltimore City Council has lost touch with the citizens,” Scott told the Blade. “I am not a politician.”

Scott said that there is a need for a voice that represents the people’s interests and not those of the politicians and noted he is that proven voice.

“I have stood against the city administration, criminals in our community, and Baltimore City Police Department on behalf of Baltimoreans,” he said. “I will continue when I am elected to the City Council.”

Scott, who prides himself as being the only gay Baptist minister in Baltimore, was an activist most of his life. However, he says a tragic event in 2005 motivated him to do more.

He had been a group home manager for the now defunct Fellowship of Lights — a place in Baltimore where homeless or runaway gay or straight youths ages 12 to 17 came for shelter.  When Scott found suitable housing for a 16-year-old boy named Vatell Murray, who was a resident of the home, the Baltimore City Department of Social Services dismissed it, according to Scott, and instead placed the teenager in an area where people had threatened to kill him.   Department officials, said Scott, had promised to keep him safe.

Tragically, the teen was murdered 45 days later, and after denouncing the tragedy publicly, Scott said he was fired from his job. Since then he has spoken out on such community issues as lead paint poisoning, juvenile services, housing, police reform and public education. He has also been a strong voice concerning hate crimes against LGBT community, such as the beating of Kenni Shaw in 2012.

Scott accelerated his activism after his experience at a Baltimore City Health Department clinic soon after being diagnosed in 2012 with the co-infections HIV and syphilis. Scott said contracting both infections is not uncommon from MSM encounters.

“Syphilis ulcers on the genitals establish entry ways for HIV,” Scott explained. “We can’t simply talk about HIV without talking about syphilis. Baltimore City Health Department has to do a better spreading this message in our schools, churches and places where people gather like bars and clubs. Especially when it comes to our young LGBTQ community members that message has to be established.”

He added, “The Baltimore City Police stepped up patrolling the infamous ‘meat rack’ in Mount Vernon where young black men sex workers can be found, but the Health Department canvassing and outreach has not increased. That needs to happen and when I am elected I will get it done.”

Scott earned a master’s in American history from Southern Illinois University and has completed all but his thesis for a second master’s in city planning from Morgan State University. He said his life’s experiences and his zeal to help others in need provide the rationale for his candidacy.

“I am an outspoken and passionate activist with a history of advocating on behalf of Baltimoreans,” he said. “I want to advocate on behalf of Baltimoreans as a member of Baltimore City Council.”

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]de.com

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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