Rural, urban, rich or poor – it is still tough to be gay. Across the country we are hearing stories of LGTBQ youth committing suicide, like the New Jersey student who threw himself off the bridge rather than be outed by his homo-phobic roommate. Here at home, Oregonians were outraged to hear that a student teacher was removed from his position after revealing to his students that he is gay. We’ve come a long way since Measure 9, but we are not there yet.
Our history of queer justice, tolerance and anti-hate work at ROP stretches back almost two decades. It’s a proud history of struggle and victory that has paved the way for today’s youth to have safer and more secure communities.
Here is one story about our newest generation of queer justice organizers.
Baker City High School Gay-Straight Alliance
ROP hosted an event recently with the Baker City High School Gay-Straight Alliance that was saturated with the joyful support and community building that we all need to feel right now.
Jessica, Alice, along with their friend Chelse, founded the Baker City High School Gay-Straight Alliance during the final weeks of school in the spring of 2009. They are organizing, challenging conservative cultural norms and making their community a tolerant place for all people.
The GSA joins a long tradition of people in Baker taking a stand in the name of equality and justice for the LGBTQ community. People in Baker County, often through the Baker County People for Human Dignity, have been working since the early 1990’s to make their county a welcoming and tolerant community.
To show our support for the bravery & commitment of the GSA, ROP recently hosted an event in their honor called Remember Your Roots: support the next generation of queer rural youth.
The event was heart-bearing & joyful. We collected about 400 books, zines, CDs, and movies for the GSA to take back to Baker City to start a Queer Resource Center in their High School. The event was a powerful affirmation of the youth’s work and it was also a positive space for adult queers & allies to hear about their stories of being unabashedly out & proud in frontier Oregon.
Spaces like this one is where we build community and these collective experiences are what makes social movements possible. Imagine if there was a place where the groundbreaking HDGs could support and build relationship with those who are just emerging as human dignity advocates. That combonation would be a powerful force!
We recorded videos at the event asking adult queers to share some thoughts with the next generation of rural queer youth. Share these wonderful short videos with people in your life!
What would you say to your teenage self about the struggle for social justice? What inspires you when you feel overwhelmed by the difficulties of social justice work? What are your memories of how being a part of ROP helped you become the activist you are today? Record your thoughts in 3 minutes or less and send them to us! We want to know! We want to be inspired!