VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – It’s official – a Virginia Beach human rights commissioner, who called homosexuality “an abomination” and “mental illness,” is stepping down.
Brother LaKendrick Colburn El said he will resign at the end of the month.
LGBTQ leaders have demanded action since the posts first came to light.
10 on Your Side spoke with El who said this experience has been humbling for him. He also said he wants the community to know he never meant any harm.
With family by his side, El says announced his last day as a human rights commissioner will be October 31.
That’s when a special commission meeting is scheduled to discuss his comments online, and El said he wants the commission to hear from him directly.
“I do feel that I owe it to my colleagues on the human rights commission as well as the citizens of the city of Virginia Beach to have the opportunity to express myself,” he said.
On Monday, El posted a series of controversial comments about homosexuality and the transgender community. He said he’s had a lot of time to reflect on how his comments have affected others.
“This week has been very, very humbling and challenging. I have received some threats,” El said. “I do believe that it leads into some constructive dialogue and I welcome the dialogue.”
Members of the LGBTQ community walked up during our interview and started that dialogue with El immediately after.
“My mom once said to me we all have our differences but we don’t have to agree, but that does not give people the right to use hate and bigotry and all this stuff just because people are different,” said Christopher Johnson, while talking to El.
“It’s different when someone on the street has a bad opinion about me but someone who is actually making decisions that affect me and my community,” said Xander Dianen, another person who spoke with El.
El said he plans to meet with LGBTQ leaders moving forward.
“I am empathetic, and I do understand and I’m willing to sit down and listen to learn more about how I can be more inclusive and understanding of their concerns,” he said. “I’m taking responsibility and I’m asking all parties involved to be respectful of your communication. Don’t threaten anyone. We’re not for violence.”
Our sister station, 10 On Your Side, spoke to Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer who said he’s aware El is stepping down, and he hopes to see what can be done to bring forward a culture of positivity and understanding between different groups.
The group Hampton Roads Pride also sent a statement saying “Cole Werkheiser, the president of Hampton Roads Pride, thinks Kenick El’s resigning is an appropriate step in the right direction, once it happens. Hampton Roads Pride’s focus has remained on preventing this from happening again and restoring trust between Virginia Beach City Council, Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission and the LGBT-allied communities. We are very proud of the nine Councilmembers who stood in unity with the LGBT-allied communities yesterday at a Joint Press Conference and look forward to continuing this dialogue with all of City Council.