Chris Hartman burst into the Fairness Campaign office, breathless and animated. “I’m so sorry I’m late, but I just finished explaining the Federal Hate Crimes Law to the FBI,” he said incredulously before stopping – “Hi. Hi. Hello!” – to warmly hug his visitors and offer up a dazzling smile. “Can you believe that?” Hartman said, launching right back into his initial point. “I was explaining the law to them.”
The Fairness Campaign director shook his head almost as if to clear it and sat down, unbuttoning his suit coat and then absently touched his blue tie peppered with tiny fleurs,-de-lis.
Based on a recent poll conducted by The Schapiro Group, a firm located in Atlanta, 83 percent of Kentuckians believe all people should be protected from discrimination in myriad ways, Hartman said. “People agree that the protections should exist for everyone, but most don’t know these don’t exist for everyone.”
In all but Louisville, Lexington and Covington, Hartman continued, it is legal to discriminate against a person based on their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. “It’s our job at Fairness to educate people,” he said, letting out an audible sigh. “Some days, it’s a bigger job than others.”
That’s why it’s important to celebrate the successes, large and small.
For the past 20 years, the campaign has sought to “dismantle oppression and build an inclusive community where all individuals are valued and empowered to reach their full potential.
“That’s why it is such a big deal that for the second year in a row there has not been a single piece of anti-gay legislation proposed in Frankfort. That is how we measure victories – for now,” Hartman said.
He also counts the Louisville community’s collective actions to be fair among those victories needing acknowledgment. “Once this community gets a dose of what diversity and acceptance is, they own it. They prove that time and time again – and that’s what I love about Louisville.”
Q&A with Chris Hartman
Residence: “I live in Old Louisville.”
Family: “There’s my mom and dad, Denny and Mary Lynn Hartman. Dad is a woodcrafter. His bowls are available at Edenside Gallery. I don’t have any pets, but I do have one succulent that still hasn’t died.”
Education: Bachelor of arts in liberal studies with a theater minor from Bellarmine University; master’s degree in drama from Washington University.
Background: Aside from traveling the country as an actor, – “I once played Wonderland in a two-person production of “˜Alice in Wonderland.’ Seven costume changes in 45 minutes.” Chris has also worked on several political campaigns, including Congressman John Yarmuth’s in 2008.
Funny bone: Chris is a talented actor who specializes in improv and has performed around the country, including under Martin de Maat, a teacher and artistic director at The Second City in Chicago who died in 2001. “He taught me how to live and love and accept people and their differences,” Chris said. “He taught me how to live and love in the world.” The late teacher also taught a valuable lesson Chris won’t forget. “He once told the class, “˜The secret of improv: It doesn’t always work.’ Isn’t that true of real life?”
Out “˜n’ about: “I like to go to the Dragon King’s Daughter, Sitar, Dakshin. I’ve been a vegetarian for 16 years. I (initially) gave (up meat) for Lent and then gave it up for life. Where else do I go? The Connection, 21c, La Que, Wild and Woolly, Zanzabar, Nachbar, Eiderdown, Mag Bar, Cherry Bomb.”
Movie miss: “The last movie I saw, it was something horrible, “˜I Am Number Four.’ ”
Music Magic: “I like Lady Gaga, Crystal Castles, John Cage is my favorite of all time and I like anything classical. Oh, and NPR. I consider NPR music.”
Good reads: “All of the Harry Potter books and Chronicles of Narnia, Anne Rice’s vampire novels.”
St. X support: “St. X was a really supportive place to go to school. When I came out, I felt so supported … I took my rights in Louisville for granted.”
On the post-Lady Gaga concert bash benefiting Fairness Campaign: “The AfterPARTY was a beautiful vomit of diversity. What (organizer) Joyce King Jennings did was bring Fairness into so many different pockets of the community. The whole night, I mean for Louisville, when else have so many of the city’s queer folks come downtown at once? It was a mind-smashing good time. Then Gaga performed at The Connection. What more could the city want? It was a good night for Louisville.”
Did You Know …
According to a 2011 telephone survey conducted by The Schapiro Group:
“¢ 86% of Kentuckians believe anyone should be allowed to apply for a job without discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“¢ 83% of registered Kentucky voters agree that gay and transgender people should be protected from discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in restaurants or other forms of public accommodations.
“¢ Louisville passed its Fairness Ordinance in 1999 and is one of only three cities – Lexington and Covington – in Kentucky with such a law.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.
Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.