Move Over, Joe Biden: Kristopher Sharp wins
by Donalevan Maines
Gay activist Kristopher Sharp has been elected vice president of the student body at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD).
The twenty-three-year-old junior, along with running mate Isaac Valdez, takes office June 1, reported Claire Caton, director of media relations for the school. In March, Caton confirmed that campus police had launched a criminal investigation into the pre-campaign distribution of a medical record identifying Sharp’s HIV status as positive.
On the other side of the flier was a photograph of Sharp, defaced by an “X,” and the words “WANT AIDS? DON’T SUPPORT THE ISAAC AND KRIS HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA.”
“I don’t know where the investigation stands now,” Sharp said on Monday, May 6. “Nothing was solved that I specifically know of.” The flier was followed by threatening graffiti, said Sharp, including “Isaac + Kris = AIDS” written on bathroom stalls.
“It had a big emotional impact that consumed a lot of my life,” said Sharp, “but I’ve decided that it’s in my best interest to put it behind me and move on.”
On March 22, Sharp told OutSmart, he was “devastated” when UHD’s dean of students, Tommy Thomason, called him to his office on March 19 and showed him the flier. “I knew that my sexuality could be under attack, because that is an easy target.” However, Sharp was shocked that his HIV status would be exposed. “Now, everybody knows,” said Sharp.
Despite the turmoil, Sharp and Valdez pursued their dream of leading the UHD’s Student Government Association (SGA) by meeting all qualifications, prior to an April 5 deadline, so they could face off against an opposing ticket.
“We had to hit the ground running,” said Sharp. “It was really important to get out the message of what we wanted to accomplish. We spoke with hundreds of people and put out posters and fliers.” Sharp and Valdez advocated affirmation of LGBT students in the school’s claim of fostering diversity and implementation of policies supporting the environment, healthier food options, and advances in technology, among other goals.
Before voting ended on April 29, said Caton, it was determined that the students vying to run against Sharp and Valdez failed to meet the necessary qualifications.
“We ended up running unopposed, but we campaigned hard regardless,” said Sharp.
Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.