Gay and raised in Alaska? Bring it Home

In a guest editorial in the Anchorage Press, Josh Lee makes good suggestions on how LGBT Alaskans can create a more visible movement and gain our rights. Unfortunately, Lee isn't here to join the effort - although born and raised in Alaska, he moved to Salt Lake City last year to intern with Equality Utah. Will he bring his new skills home to Anchorage?
"Last November, the city council of Salt Lake City passed an ordinance protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals from discrimination in the workplace and in housing. Other cities in Utah are currently working on getting similar ordinances passed, in hopes of supporting an eventual statewide ordinance that would protect all queer Utahns.

Where is Anchorage's anti-discrimination ordinance or protections from hate crimes? Mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed it...

Before I moved to Utah last August, I was nervous to be a gay in Mormon country. Luckily for me, I found myself in a strong Utah LGBT community shortly after my arrival. These Utahns have been an inspiration to me, and I hope that Alaskans rise to the challenge of Utah's example. If Utah can do it, so can Alaska.

And none of the changes that occurred in Utah on queer issues would exist if not for the activism that lives within Utah.

Queers in Alaska should embrace their queerness. The queers in Alaska need to come out of their log cabins (the Republicans don't like you anyway). They need to come out of the bars. They need to come out at work. They need to come out to their neighbors. The gays must go out and greet the moveable middle within their communities. Be creative in your activism. Do something, not nothing: Stage a kiss-in, create a spectacle, anything, just go all for it in your community."
They? Less than one year outside and he no longer counts himself as an Alaskan.

Lee, a UAA alumnus, makes good points about being more active and visible and creative. But who will lead those actions if so many of Alaska's queer youth and allies leave the state? Both gay and straight youth feel the need to leave home and live somewhere else. It's especially important for queer youth to experience a thriving LGBTQ community, the confidence of successful political efforts, and the relief of being themselves away from the confines of a small town. But what happens back home?
"I am proud to say that I am a born-and-raised Alaskan. I love my home state; it's beautiful and gave me many opportunities. But Alaska needs to become a more inclusive state to all of its citizens. Utah got at least one thing right when Salt Lake City decided to protect its LGBT residents. Now it's time for Alaska to meet the challenge."
You're right about that, Josh. So here's a challenge for you, and all the other LGBT youth who leave Alaska for gay-er pastures: soak up all that wonderful queerness in the big cities down south, learn everything you can about successful queer activism, make plenty of activist friends and connections - then bring your energy and skills home to Alaska and help us make it happen here. Be a leader who makes a difference, not just in a new town that already has an active community, but here at home, where you are needed.

That's my challenge to you: Bring it Home! (Or at least send your queer activist friends up here to help us.)

In the meantime, we'll keep working with the LGBT people and allies who live in Alaska, holding protests, diversity dinners, fundraisers and PrideFest, calling our members of Congress and state legislators, working with allies to elect politicians who support our rights, like we have been doing all along. Maybe someday we'll even have a kiss-in.


Sie said...

We miss you, Josh! <3

Stephanie said...

Way to put someone down because they left Alaska after UAA.

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