St. Petersburg City Council Candidate: I Will BURN A Pride Flag!

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday July 25, 2019

Call it trickle-down Trumpism. A man with no political experience, and seemingly no particular qualifications, is running for office in the gay-friendly Florida city of St. Petersburg - and he's making headlines, not mention a name for himself, by bashing the LGBTQ community with a barrage of evidence-free and fact-free claims.

But then again, who needs facts when theatricality will do?

The Tampa Bay Times reports that among his blizzard of assertions, Chico Cromartie claims that the government is handing out money to LGBTQs; that gays are somehow siphoning off of African Americans (though it's unclear whether Croimartie intends to suggest that this appropriation takes the form of wealth or influence or some other limited resource); that gays are somehow "promoting" their sexuality to children (a claim that in turn suggests that human beings can be "taught" or "made" to be gay by messages from others); and that LGBTQs somehow "choose" not to be straight.

Press reports indicate that Cromarie has not presented any evidence to back up any of his claims, many of which have been denounced, disproved, and rejected by, among others, mental health professionals, who have long sought to correct the idea that human sexuality can simply be selected from a variety of options or else "converted," or changed like shoes from a closet.

At his Facebook page, Cromartie's posts display similar fact-free (and middle school-level) anti-gay flourishes.

"Surprised to see the LGBT's condemnation of me or any other person with an arrest or incarceration history," a July 24 post declared. "When in fact many members of the LGBT community are in our jails and prison institutions and they 'love it', I've heard some say!"

The would-be city council member has adopted a persona that's become all too familiar in this age of autocrats and their imitators, attempting a "Tougher Then the Rest and Just Saying What People Are Thinking" version of something seemingly intended to signal personal authenticity.

"I am the only black leader who publicly denounces homosexuality and will BURN a pride flag," Cromartie reportedly posted online.

Cromartie doesn't just borrow stylistically from the Trump playbook; he parrots the president's illogical and fallacious statements.

"Foriegn nationals do not have a right to claim racism in this country only African Americans have that right! Go back to your own counrty and take your flag with you (Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez) or whatever your name is!" Cromartie raged online recently, reported the Tampa Bay Times. "How in the hell did all these foreign nationals get in the U.S. Congress anyway?"

President Trump recently blasted a quartet of female, non-Caucasian members of Congress with tweets inviting them to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done."

The ironic gaffe there - which did not seem to concern Trump supporters, assuming they even knew about it - was that three of the four congresswomen Trump was assailing were born in the United States (including Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who hails form New York), and the one who was born abroad is a naturalized citizen who has resided here since childhood. The so-called "Squad" of female lawmakers of color are, in fact, doing exactly what the president suggested they do: Attempting to repair a seriously dysfunctional government by serving in its legislative body.

Steve Kornell, an openly gay, currently-serving member of the St. Petersburg City Council, rejected Cromartie's broadsides against gays, and said that bashing anti-gay sentiment in race "makes every African American LGBTQ citizen invisible."

Local NACCP chapter head Maria Scruggs noted that Cromartie's attacks on the LGBTQ community - and his insinuation that gays are somehow robbing African-Americans - not only misses the mark, it's counterpriductiove.

"We can often take a lot of our lessons on community building from the LGBTQ community because they have, in many ways, been very strategic about their agenda," Scruggs told local news channel 10. "And as a result, [the LGBTQ community] have the results to show for it," Scruggs added.

In fact, the NAACP voted unanimously on July 23 to adopt a trio of pro-LGBTQ resolutions, according to a press release from the National Black Justice Coalition.

"The NAACP was a champion for marriage equality and remains a strong advocate for the Equality Act and is now taking action to do deeper work with their units and chapters to invoke change locally," the release noted.

"Too many people think that the gains made by the white lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community are eroding civil protections for Black people," said David Johns, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, "and these people miss the fact that as long as there have been Black people there have been Black LGBTQ and same gender loving (SGL) people.

"Black LGBTQ/SGL people are vulnerable to discrimination and dying at a disproportionate rate and this does not have to be our reality," Johns continued. "The resolutions passed by the NAACP will help to ensure that local chapters across the country do a better job of holding space and ensuring equality for all Black people."

Another irony about Cromartie's facet-free, venom-heavy camping style is his pointing to his service on executive board of the city's chapter of the NACP and his semester as an intern for then-council member Karl Nurse.

Commenting on this, Nurse told The Tamps Bay Times, "I do feel a little bit used, candidly."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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