Student gov’t candidate targeted in anti-gay smear campaign wins election
HOUSTON — A student government candidate at University of Houston-Downtown, who was the subject of an anti-gay smear campaign that also revealed his HIV status, has been elected student body vice-president.
Kristopher Sharp, a third year student at UHD said he was surprised by the victory, and that he had not prepared himself for winning.
The smear campaign flyer targeting Kristopher Sharp.
Last month, Sharp was the target of a campaign to discourage students from voting for him by publicizing his HIV-positive status and other private medical information on a flyer distributed on campus.
The front of the flyer had 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. (Isaac Valdez, also a junior at UHD, was Sharp’s running mate.) On the back of the flyer was Sharps’s medical information from a physician visit, including his HIV status and prescribed medication, along with his home address and telephone number.
Sharp said the campaign against him was very “discouraging,” but that he is proud of the way he and Valdez turned it into a victory.
Sharp told LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday that he plans to move forward and concentrate on executing the responsibilities of his office to best serve his fellow students, rather that dwell on the negative aspects of the campaign.
He did say, however, that he feels the overall of issue of how HIV-positive individuals and the stigma they’re treated with by peers and society, still needs to be addressed in a more positive fashion, as opposed to portraying inaccurate stereotypes — which is what he said was the intent of the campaign against him.
Sharp, who takes office in June, said he hopes to focus on eco-friendly initiatives and updated technology on campus, but that he’ll also use his role to educate students on diversity and acceptance, a topic influenced by the campaign.
“We want to address the culture of hate on campus” through awareness and education, he said.
In the meantime, the person, or persons, behind the campaign against Sharp have not been identified.
UHD Director of Media Relations Claire Caton told LGBTQ Nation that the university is actively pursuing the case trying to determine who was responsible for the flyers.
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