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City Of Atlanta Director Of LGBTQ Affairs Malik Brown Is An Agent Of Change

Elizabeth Harper | March 18, 2021 | Lifestyle Feature

As the City of Atlanta’s first-ever director of LGBTQ Affairs, Malik Brown stands ready to make strides.

City of Atlanta Director of LGBTQ Affairs Malik Brown in a snap from the NOH8 Campaign
City of Atlanta Director of LGBTQ Affairs Malik Brown in a snap from the NOH8 Campaign

“We are coming off the deadliest year on record for trans Americans,” says Malik Brown. It hits at the core. The staggering reality is that, according to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 40 transgender people were killed in 2020 in the U.S. due to violent transphobia—mostly Black or Latinx transgender women. And, as the inaugural director of LGBTQ Affairs, Brown is ready to tackle these issues head on. “By creating this historic role—the first in Atlanta and the South,” he says of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, “I can really begin better helping city departments and agencies improve their LGBTQ efforts.”

With a CV seemingly dedicated to LGBTQ advocacy, political strategy, nonprofit development and a stint on the Human Rights Campaign’s national board of governors, Atlanta native Brown is primed for the post. As director, he has been thrust into the limelight—the lights bright, the expectations high. “Support for our most vulnerable is a major focus of my role,” he notes. Working hand in hand with the mayor, Brown and his team are set to make a real impact with programs touching on employment, housing resources, healthcare, combatting HIV/AIDS, mentoring LGBTQ youth and more. “My mission,” he says, “is to protect and advance the rights of LGBTQ Atlantans while also celebrating our culture and progress.”

Brown with Rev. Raphael Warnock PHOTO: COURTESY OF MALIK BROWN
Brown with Rev. Raphael Warnock

Now inside the gold dome, Brown is no stranger to the political arena—most recently campaigning alongside Jon Ossoff and serving as the top adviser for LGBTQ+ engagement for Raphael Warnock. With this historic election (Warnock is the first Black senator and Ossoff the first Jewish senator from the state, and their wins flipped control to the Democrats) and all eyes on Georgia, local politics have been thrust onto the national stage. It’s an opportunity Brown has no intention of squandering. “Through Mayor Bottoms’ leadership,” he says, “Atlanta has become a national leader on municipal LGBTQ affairs. It’s important for us to help other cities in their progress.”

With time in office, by nature, finite, Brown is hard at work on his and his department’s legacy. As I ask how he’ll define his tenure in the City of Atlanta a success, he takes a moment for reflection. It’s a loaded question, filled with weighted expectations and waiting beneficiaries. But, in what I now know to be signature Brown style, he responds with the utmost humanity and genuine humility. “Success,” he says, “is really defined by our constituents themselves and the opportunities we are able to avail for them. As we continue to create more equitable opportunities for LGBTQ Atlantans, my hope is that members of my community will be better off than they were before, especially our youth.”

The Atlanta native on the campaign trail for Jon Ossoff. PHOTO: BY KEVIN LOWERY
The Atlanta native on the campaign trail for Jon Ossoff

It’s daunting. It’s important. It’s critical. And Brown is more than able. “Ten years from now, I hope to see an LGBTQ Affairs team, a hardworking LGBTQ advisory board and the important celebratory mayoral pride events that Mayor Bottoms started,” he muses. “One of the things I love about Atlanta city government is that there are LGBTQ people in leadership throughout our government. I hope that continues.”

Tags: people

Photography by: By Adam Bouska/courtesy of NOH8 Campaign; courtesy of Malik Brown; by Kevin Lowery