Antonio King, who has a background as a promoter and stage performer, said that he's used his past work with the LGBT community "to build build trust and be an advocate for individuals who cannot speak for themselves."
That experience will surely prove useful in King's new position. He was recently appointed LGBTQ community liaison to lead Chicago Department of Public Health's ( CDPH ) outreach efforts with the LGBT community.
"The scope of the job is making sure that we can improve the health of the residents of the city of Chicago and guaranteeing that LGBT issues are reflected in Healthy Chicago 2.0," King said. "We want to make sure that CDPH continues to provide the services it needs to, and picks up the services we have not been providing, in a manner that is affirming, and palpable to the quality of life for the community."
Healthy Chicago 2.0, a data-driven plan that targetted health disparities across the city, was unveiled in May 2016. The initiative identified 30 goals and 82 objectives for city officials.
"We want to make sure that [Healthy Chicago 2.0] continues to focus on health disparities and holistic things that may not have yet been pulled into the spotlight for the community," King said.
Among the disparities King mentioned were access to housing, discrimination, employment access and resources for LGBT youth.
"We start off with health care, because we're the 'health department,'" he said. "But the city overall is also concerned with those [external factors] that impact health as well. Not having a job or housing, or access to healthcare, are obstacles that have to be overcome as well."
King's position is grant-funded. He said, "I have at my disposal all the assistance and support from any department that might have an affect on my 'constituency.'"
He has been at CDPH for 12 years. For the first 10 years he was a disease-intervention specialist; for the last two years he had been a supervisor in that department. Now he wants to make clear that his new role is "not a figurehead position."
He added, "CDPH and the city of Chicago has a goal to ensure that all of our work is LGBT-informed and that all the work I am doing is LGBT-focused and —spotlighted. Not just health disparities but also things that impact the lives of the LGBT community in Chicago."