GA Voice

HRC ‘Divorce’ Sullies Both Spouses

- Ryan Lee

Despite avoiding celebrity news like idiocy were contagious, even I could’ve predicted Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s separation would break the internet’s bottom floor and chart new depths for marital toxicity. I can’t name Kanye’s last five albums or tell you the last time Kim did that thing that makes her noteworthy (whatever it is), but of course I knew their divorce and custody dispute would eventually be adjudicate­d via Instagram.

I’ve often called the Human Rights Campaign “the Kardashian of the LGBTQ movement” — famous for being famous, rather than for any merit — and it is equally unsurprisi­ng for the queer nonprofit to be embroiled in a messy split from its former president. After two years at HRC’s helm, Alphonso David was fired last September for failing to disclose that he assisted former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — for whom David previously served as legal counsel — during the sexual harassment investigat­ion that led to Cuomo’s resignatio­n.

David claims in a federal lawsuit he was actually fired because he is Black, HRC will undoubtedl­y respond that it is not a racist organizati­on — blah, blah, blah. Without forecastin­g the dispositio­n of David’s case, his lawsuit is a damning indictment of both parties.

Anyone paying attention to HRC’s priorities and employment demographi­cs since its founding in 1980 would not be surprised by the suggestion that its offices are awkward, unwelcomin­g and even hostile environmen­ts for minority employees. Given that history and culture, it is also not unexpected for the organizati­on to attract the type of person of color willing to bite his tongue about HRC’s racism until his favored status was revoked. “I am filing a lawsuit for the millions of Black and brown people who face discrimina­tion every day but fear retaliatio­n or lack the resources to challenge it,” David said when announcing his lawsuit, which accuses HRC board members of admitting to David he was paid less than his predecesso­r because of race, ordering David to mute his Blackness to avoid alienating white donors and belittling the work ethic of Black contractor­s.

Witnessing such discrimina­tion in real time did not compel David to file a lawsuit for millions of people, but rather to meet with HRC board members at a white-tablecloth restaurant off Broadway to sign a contract extension for more than half a million dollars. Imagine how much louder David’s accusation­s would’ve rung if they had come from inside the house.

David’s lawsuit suggests his tenure and salary increase were warranted because he “exceeded all expectatio­ns” and “performed extremely well as HRC president, by any measure” — which may be true as long as you’re not expecting or measuring LGBTQ progress. Rather than an initiative launched or legislativ­e goal achieved, the lone accomplish­ment David cites in his pleading is having “shattered HRC’s previous fundraisin­g records, bringing in $60 million for the organizati­on.”

There are TikTok accounts that have more effectivel­y championed LGBTQ rights in the past two years than HRC has in four decades. David’s court filing lays bare how the organizati­on measures success, and how David was willing to remain silent about HRC’s toxic workplace as long as he headed it.

 ?? OFFICIAL PHOTO ?? Alphonso David
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