Words: Steve Brown
An LGBTQ liaison to the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office took his own life last week.
Deputy Sheriff Dante Austin, 27, was Philadelphia’s first openly gay man in this position and the office’s first LGBTQ liaison.
Back in 2013, he was hired to the sheriff’s office and appointed as the LGBTQ liaison in 2017. The aspiring army veteran was due to be promoted to sergeant in July.
On Friday (June 7), Austin took his own life with the Sheriff’s Office saying it was by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Sheriff Jewell Williams said: “This is a tragedy for the Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Austin’s family, and the local LGBTQ community.
Dante was a person who believed in and cared about everybody.”
Austin’s partner, assistant city solicitor Robert “Tito” Valdez said he should be remembered as ‘someone who despised bigotry, who despised inequality, and who fought for change from within’.
“I don’t know where to go. My grieving process will begin once I accept it fully, which I have not done yet,” he said.
Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community lost one of our best & brightest last night! Dante Austin was one of the strongest & kindest champions for equality I’ve ever met. He lifted up everyone he touched. He supported everyone who needed him. He cared deeply & loved loudly. pic.twitter.com/DKfzbQ86pw— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) June 7, 2019