Western States Centeron May 14th, 2009 at 2:47 pm
In the past 20 years Oregon has faced more than 33 anti-gay ballot measures at the state and local levels. While most of the previous statewide measures were defeated, in 2004 voters approved Measure 36, which banned marriage between same-sex couples. It was a difficult campaign in which the religious Right was able to use race as a wedge. From hiring a person of color as the spokesperson for the campaign to ads that specifically targeted communities of color, the opposition exploited the voices and faces of people of color to project their homophobia. In response The Western States Center’s developed the Family, Community and Sexuality Project to engage communities of color around LGBTQ equality and support organizations in our region fighting attacks on LGBTQ families.
Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS) is one of the participants of the Family, Community and Sexuality Project. The LUS chapter leaders at McKay High School in Salem reached out to the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) after attending several workshops run by Western States Center and Seattle Young People’s Project. LUS and the GSA then decided to hold a joint leadership retreat where LUS student member Gustavo Ayon shared his journal entries on how he become an ally to LGBTQ students. By creating a safe space, a young Latino man felt comfortable coming out to his peers. This profound story deepened the commitment of the organization and convinced other LUS chapters to collaborate with GSAs in their schools.
It is very difficult to get foundation funds for our LGBTQ work so it was very helpful to get a Pride Foundation grant. It allowed us to develop tools for organizations to assess their LGBTQ inclusivity, and provide trainings on how to integrate LGBTQ members and issues into their programs, culture, personnel, and policies.