Clarifying HDC’s position on gun ownership

In a recent article in the Bend Bulletin about gun ownership in the LGBTQ community, a Human Dignity Coalition board member was quoted sharing her personal perspective on a sensitive issue. Her comments were not intended to reflect an organizational position on the gun ownership, however, the context of her comments created some confusion.

Human Dignity Coalition wants to make clear that we neither condone nor oppose lawful gun ownership. We understand that with increasing concerns about harassment, some members of the LGBTQ community may be considering carrying a weapon as one way to feel more safe. We encourage anyone considering gun ownership to educate themselves on the relevant laws and safety measures as well as the potential risks.

Other ways to increase safety include taking a self defense course, learning de-escalation techniques, and knowing your rights and resources. To get more information about local resources or opportunities to learn non-lethal self-defense and safety skills, contact info@humandignitycoalition.org.

Central Oregon OUTlook: Stephanie Marielle Lawless

Stephanie

What is your name and age?

Stephanie Marielle Lawless – 29

How do you identify?

Female in most regards but more specifically as a Non-binary Transgender Woman.

 What is your occupation?

Retail Accounts Management. I also volunteer in my spare time as the Transgender Support Facilitator for the Human Dignity Coalition.

When did you come out as LGBTQ?

To myself as knowing I was female: 7

To others as not being heterosexual: 15, this consistently evolved from that age and I now consider myself attracted to all genders (pansexual).

To friends and family as being transgender: 26-28

At work, including customers: One month ago

How have things changed since you came out?

I have since ended contact with my parents over it but have gained a stronger bond with my sister who lives in Portland and have gained several strong friendships with people who appreciate me for me. Gender dysphoria doesn’t trouble me as much anymore and I’m starting to feel strong enough to be myself anywhere in public and not worry as much as to what others might think of me. I feel like I have purpose in life finally and can express myself with no retribution for being feminine unlike how I used to be.

How long have you lived in Central Oregon, and what brought you here?

My parents transplanted us in March 1997 from Big Bear, California to seek a better job economy, a better quality of life, and to get away from the San Andreas fault. I moved myself to Springfield, Oregon in 2010 for a job promotion and to consider being my true self in a more socially liberal environment but quickly realized it was the network of friends I built here in Central Oregon that I needed around me to consider starting transition regardless of the more socially moderate environment here.

What’s your favorite thing about living here?

The true four seasons of weather but especially the thunderstorms during monsoon season, crystal clear stargazing at night, spelunking at any of the numerous caves, witnessing the constant change and growth of the area, and all of the pristine natural beauty everywhere throughout Central Oregon. I also appreciate the diversity of things to do in and out of town and the passion everyone has in whichever activity one partakes in. Our local beer and cider scene is quite impressive as well.

What would you like to see change?

A local daily LGBTQ social venue/bar is long overdue for our community and I feel is in strong demand. The constant gendering of everything in society is in my eyes so obsessive that it’s quite comical how much focus we put on something essentially so trivial. Pens specifically for women? Body wash specific for men? Needless! We’re all human and that should be the focus. On that topic, single stall genderless restrooms allow those that don’t fit into one of two categories to avoid having to choose between getting potentially scorned or potentially assaulted simply over taking care of bodily functions. LGBTQ issues aside, I’d love for Bend to get a full ice center in the winter for hockey, figure skating, and curling.

What would you tell an LGBTQ person who’s thinking of moving to the area?

This isn’t the Western side of Cascades so finding others who are also LGBTQ is a bit more difficult but definitely not impossible. There are several events put on by the Human Dignity Coalition and Stars & Rainbows to help connect the community that are a MUST to be part of. Central Oregonians are much more open-minded than I think they get credit for when it comes to accepting you for who you are or who you love. If you’re thinking about living open in Central Oregon, the chances are others already know someone that is gay. They may not know someone who is transgender yet but they are often willing to listen and learn from you and your experience.

If you could give a piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be?

Just be you and don’t let others dictate who you’re supposed to be. All of that hyper-masculinity you’re exuding to everyone is not only harming you but also giving everyone else a false image of who you are. It’s OK for things to be “cute” or “pretty” or to cry and be emotional. You are truly beautiful, strong, and courageous for enduring everyone and everything that would rather see you stay the boy you are than see the woman you’ll become, keep your head held high! Oh, and quit purging your stash of girly things. You’ll regret tossing anything out.

Who/what do you want to be when you “grow up”?

It would be rewarding to continue doing transgender advocacy but someday I’d like to do it on a larger scale then what I do now. I also am passionate about the Cascadian Secessionist Movement as I feel the Pacific Northwest would be best off self-governing its uniquely beautiful, self-sustaining, & distinctly different land. It may be a pipe dream but all accomplishments start with exactly that, a dream. On a more personal note, I’d love to simply be happy with whatever future endeavor I partake in. If I could somehow have Anthony Bourdain’s life, I would be ecstatic.

Who are your role models—LGBTQ and otherwise?

My list of Trans* Women platonic crushes includes but isn’t limited to:

Christina Kahrl, Julia Serano, Parker Marie Malloy, Laura Jane Grace, Isley Reust, Christina Lugo, Lana Wachowski, Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Kristin Beck, & Brynn Tannehill.                                                                                                                        

Anything else?

Gandhi put it best, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

This interview is part of a new project called Central Oregon OUTlook, in which we feature members of the Central Oregon LGBTQ community. If you are interested in participating, send us an email!

Central Oregon OUTlook: Rob Landis

Rob Landis
Rob Landis

Note: This interview is part of a new project called Central Oregon OUTlook, in which we feature members of the Central Oregon LGBTQ community. If you are interested in participating, send us an email!

What is your name and age? Rob Mikael Landis, 31.

How do you identify? Male (although I would be classified as a trangender male)

What is your occupation? Security Officer

When did you come out as LGBTQ? I was 19 when the closest thing I knew to identify with was a lesbian, then I was 28 coming out as transgender.

How have things changed since you came out? Life just seems to be getting better and better. My confidence level has went way up, I’m healthier and I am no longer depressed. I feel like nothing can stop me from achieving my goals in life.

How long have you lived in Central Oregon, and what brought you here? I was born and raised in Central Oregon, moving away for only little bits of time before I missed it too much and wanted to come back.

What’s your favorite thing about living here? It would be difficult to pick one favorite. I love the change of seasons. I love the variety of amazing micro brews. I love the country scenery. I love the smell of wet sage brush and juniper.

What would you like to see change? I think the most frustrating thing for me so far has become all of the legal documentation linking me to the person I was “before.” The legality of all I’ve had to go through just to make my social security card match the name and gender on my driver’s license has proved to be quite complicated. After all, I am currently pre-operations at this point. This issue causes me, unfortunately, to have to come out to new prospective employers in order to verify that my current name and my previous name are the same person. Imagine my dismay. Especially because I feel that there is still quite a bit of uneducated (on transgender issues) people in the Central Oregon community.

What would you tell an LGBTQ person who’s thinking of moving to the area? Welcome to a beautiful place with great activities to do year-round. And if you need any help finding other LGBTQ individuals to meet up with and LGBTQ events to attend, the HDC is your hook up! They’re a great resource for Central Oregon LGBTQ needs.

If you could give a piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be? Save every bit of extra money you can, research male hormones, get those boobs chopped off and start living your life happy as the guy you’ve always felt like you were in the first place.

Who/what do you want to be when you “grow up”? I would just love to be 100 percent happy with my life (my body, my career, my achievements).

Who are your role models—LGBTQ and otherwise? Honestly, not sure I have any. I admire anyone who is willing to go against the wishes of anyone else who tries to keep them from being happy living as their true self! So many transgender individuals lose family, partners, friends and jobs just because they chose to be true to themselves. It makes me sad for them, yet proud of them at the same time. The strength and courage that it takes to make that kind of sacrifice is comparable to none.

Anything else? I would like to thank all of my friends, family and employers for seeing me for who I really am and keeping me a part of their lives. It has made my transition unbelievably painless and invigorating. I try to remind myself every day how truly blessed I am. I can honestly say my transition has given me a new set of eyes to see all the beauty and happiness in life that I never saw before.

KPOV Seeking Participants for LGBTQ Youth Radio Program

queerradio

Bend radio station KPOV (88.9 FM) wants to start an LGBTQ youth radio program and is looking for 2-6 youth who are interested in taking a DJ class and committing some time to contribute to the program. The first DJ class will be held Saturday, Sept. 27 at Central Oregon Community College. The class has a $49 enrollment fee, but the Human Dignity Coalition will cover the cost for any youth for whom cost is an issue. Contact HDC for tuition assistance, or enroll by calling Jill at KPOV at 541-322-0863.

 

Queer Heroes NW: Faces for Change

FacesForChange

Queer Heroes NW is an annual project of Q Center and the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific NW (GLAPN) that recognizes local people who have made a significant difference in the LGBTQ community in the Pacific NW. The heroes are selected by a committee from community nominations. Each day in June (Pride month), one hero is revealed online. An exhibit featuring all of the heroes is on display at Q Center’s Aaron Hall Gallery, as well as at Pride booths across Oregon and SW Washington.

We’ll be sharing these heroes stories on our site throughout the month.

(Via GLAPN)

JUNE 1: FACES FOR CHANGE

The Bell family of LaGrande, Oregon, faced challenges in 2013 that most people can’t even imagine.

Jadin Bell, who was dealing with bullying at his local high school, hanged himself on the school playground on January 19, and died on February 3 after he was taken off of life support.

Determined to make something good from the experience, the family founded Faces For Change, a non-profit organization set up to combat bullying in the four counties of northeastern Oregon; and Jadin’s father, Joe Bell set off to walk across the USA, speaking about bullying to community groups along the way.

In April, 2013, members of the Bell Family visited the Shepherd Scholars’ Class Act fundraiser, where a special offering jump-started the Faces for Change account at Equity Foundation.

On October 9, 2013, Joe Bell’s walk was cut short when he was hit by a truck as he walked along a highway in eastern Colorado. Joe died beside the road, and the driver was cited for negligence.

In April, 2014, members of the Bell Family once again stood before the audience at the Shepherd Scholars Class Act fundraiser, where they announced the granting of the first Faces for Change scholarship.

From FacesForChange.com: “It is our intent to honor Jadin’s memory with a legacy of proactive service. Suicide is a complex social pathology that is seldom (if ever) about just one thing. Often the difference between life and tragic death is someone who cares enough about any aspect to move the needle. If anything matters, everything matters. Let it start today, let it start with me …”

Read more about the Jadin and Joe’s legacy here.

Q Center and GLAPN will hold a reception honoring these queer heroes at Q Center, June 12, from 5 to 7 p.m.

 

Volunteer for Central Oregon Pride

Pride_HDCBooth
Central Oregon Pride is just around the corner and the Human Dignity Coalition is looking for volunteers. Stop by one of our planning meetings or send us an email to find out how to get involved in making the 10th Annual Central Oregon Pride the best yet.

The 2014 Central Oregon Pride Committee meets Mondays at 6 p.m. at Black Bear Diner. Upcoming meeting dates include: May 19, June 2, and June 16.

For more on Central Oregon Pride, check out our new website.