I’m disappointed.

In an article from the Democrat and Chronicle regarding the Democratic designation for Rochester City Council, candidate Willie Joe Lightfoot asked “Is that reverse discrimination to anybody who chooses not to live that lifestyle?” You can read the full article here.

As a former candidate for City Council, as a gay man, as a LGBTQ advocate, and community leader/organizer, I am disappointed in the underlying homophobia in Lightfoot’s question.

We don’t choose to live “that” lifestyle. For any of us who have suffered- physically, emotionally, professionally- we didn’t choose to be gay, or lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. Just like anyone who identifies as heterosexual, we were born that way. You may have been born “straight” and I was born gay. And there is no shame to that.

Mr. Lightfoot, this isn’t a lifestyle, or a choice. You didn’t choose to be heterosexual. Nor did you choose the privilege that comes along with that identification.

I know that, from the article, Willie’s question is related to the internal politics of who will be designated at tomorrow’s Monroe County Democrat Committee convention, but if you want to represent the residents of the city of Rochester, as an elected official, you need to understand the diverse population of our city and work to gain our respect and confidence. The question he as asked is not that way to do that.

I didn’t drop out of the City Council race and endorse Mayor Warren and Matt Juda to go back into private life and disappear; I will continue to be a voice for and from our LGBTQ community. And in our city, we embrace diversity. We celebrate the fact that people are different, and can live in a city that respects their individuality.

I hope that Willie retracts his statement and apologizes to our community.

I’m disappointed in Willie’s statement. I’ve met Willie a few times, and have found him to be a pleasant person. But if this is what he believes, then I don’t want him representing me, or our LGBTQ community on City Council. Take the designation or not, but I, and the LGBTQ community have an ally in our Mayor,  and we will continue our advocacy with those elected or reelected to City Council.