Along with fighting fires, the City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department is fighting sexism, racism and homophobia.
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Fire Chief Joel Baker has launched a diversity initiative. One of the goals is to retain and recruit a diverse firefighting force, but also to engage the community beyond public safety. The department is specifically targeting women, Hispanics and LGBT-identifying people.
Firefighter Anaré V. Holmes is one of the LGBT liaisons and is planning public events over the next year to reach out to that community.
“We want to make sure that people understand that there is a place for them Atlanta Fire Rescue,” he said in an interview with Lois Reitzes.
Their first event is called “Narratives in Courage: Stories of LGBT Public Safety Heroes.” It will feature a screening of the short film “Welcome Home Hero,” directed by Atlanta filmmaker Courtney Walker and produced by Jason Bunkley. The films portrays an openly gay Marine who tries to reconnect with his father.
A panel discussion will follow the screening with LGBT firefighters, veterans, police and correction officers.
“The arts are a wonderful place to springboard and to have conversations that you may not ordinarily have,” Holmes said. He also said this is the first time AFRD has programmed a public event that does not involve emergency preparedness or risk crisis mitigation.
“One of the conversations we want to talk about is: what is the definition of an American hero, how that looks and the diversity and inclusion that is within that,” he said.
“Narratives in Courage: Stories of LGBT Public Safety Heroes” is a free event. It is Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. A reception starts at 6:30 p.m. The program starts at 7.