Leader in LGBTQ+ Community Called Out for Racism
Dion Williams, a current member of Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf’s (RAD) Facebook group, expressed concerns about the lack of a safe space for Deaf LGBTQ+ members, particularly those who are of color. Williams had valid feedback for improvement within RAD and other members agreed with him, only to see that Paul Kiel, current RAD President, had deleted their posts as an attempt to tone-police and silence them. In doing so, Kiel was perceived to have abused his position of power.
Williams decided to try and resolve this issue with Kiel via a videophone (VP) call, which was recorded and later uploaded to YouTube, where Williams asked Kiel directly why he was silenced. Kiel responded with an attempt to find a Black individual at the (undisclosed) site he was located, and reiterated that he had Black friends. When Williams requested for more of an explanation than what he was being given, Kiel displayed anger and acted hostile towards him.
Once Williams posted the video online, several Deaf LGBTQ+ members within RAD condemned Kiel’s behavior as unacceptable and called for his immediate resignation from the position of President.
Destiny Slater, one of the members, was appalled with the situation and she expressed her thoughts in a post within RAD’s Facebook group; shortly afterwards, Kiel removed her post as well. Slater decided she had enough with Kiel’s lack of leadership and she channeled her feelings through art, later posting the image she created publicly on her personal Facebook page, where she wrote: “This is my perspective on the leadership of The Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (RAD)”.
Another member, Mikey Krajnak, shared his thoughts on RAD’s Facebook page and added that due to his fear of possible retaliation from Kiel, Krajnak would upload the same commentary in another Facebook group called “Deaf Queers and Allies.” Krajnak felt the Deaf Queers and Allies Facebook group was much safer for open and honest dialogue, which was indicated in his eight-minute long YouTube video: “In case I get banned from that group, I'm also posting this vlog in Deaf Queers & Allies where it is safe to have dialogue. I am just being transparent here as a Deaf Gay Man who wants nothing but the best for RAD.”
As of today on August 18, 2019, the Deaf LGBTQ+ community is in an uproar. After Tar Gilman, who is the Director of Public Relations for RAD, requested that Kiel resign from his position (in an open letter), Gilman lost his privileges on RAD’s website--much to the community’s anger. A new movement has emerged with the hashtag #PaulResignNOW. The Ontario Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf posted an open letter along with a vlog that included two primary demands: (1) Paul Kiel must resign from his current position, and (2) all RAD Board and Officers must take diversity training. Randy Pituk of Inka’s Screen Printing also posted an open letter to Kiel in RAD’s Facebook group where he mentioned Kiel wanted to pursue options of legal action against Williams