Persecuted student prevails, wins election
After being the target of anti-gay attacks throughout his campaign for vice president of the Student Government Association at the University of Houston-Downtown, junior Kristopher Sharp and his running mate, Isaac Valdez, were victorious in the election earlier this month.
“When I found out we had won, I immediately felt incredibly humbled and honored to be a Gator,” Sharp said. “I knew at that moment that despite the negativity surrounding my campaign, my peers had the insight to see my true character and disregarded everything else.”
After announcing their campaign, fliers circulated the campus that targeted Sharp’s sexual orientation with the words “WANT AIDS?” above a picture of Sharp with a large X on it, and “Don’t support the Isaac and Kris homosexual agenda” at the bottom. On the back was medical information from a physician visit, including his HIV status and prescribed medication, along with his home address and telephone number.
Sharp said graffiti stating “Isaac + Kris=AIDS” popped up in bathrooms later on.
“I knew my sexuality could possibly be an issue — I didn’t really think it would be since it’s 2013,” Sharp said. “I was expecting some attacks, maybe some debates, but I never would have thought it would go to the level it went to.”
Director of Media Relations Claire Caton said the university is trying to find the person responsible but no recent updates in the criminal investigation have been made.
Sharp said he has decided to put the past behind him and would like to start focusing on his duties as vice president of SGA, which he will assume in June. Sharp and Valdez will focus their attention on campus eco-friendly initiatives and updated technology. They also plan to educate students on diversity and acceptance.
“I will remain committed to changing the culture of beliefs on our campus and work to foster an educational environment that is accepting of all people from all walks of life,” Sharp said. “If and when we find out who did this, I will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that nothing like this happens at UHD again.”