The memorial for the nine African Americans who were murdered while attending a South Carolina church service.
The memorial for the nine African Americans who were murdered while attending a South Carolina church service.

By George Nicola, GLAPN

“Healing Conversations” Event Held at Q Center

Left to right, event organizer Margaret-Ann Jones and the memorial’s creator Q Center volunteer Cindy Surendorf.
Left to right, event organizer Margaret-Ann Jones and the memorial’s creator Q Center volunteer Cindy Surendorf.

“Healing Conversations on Racism, Healing Ourselves and Where do we Go from Here” was the name of an event held at Q Center on Sunday, July 26. It was organized by Margaret-Ann Jones, and facilitated by Antoinette Edwards and Paula Casner. All three women have been involved in PFLAG Portland Black Chapter and other social justice groups.

Participants were invited “to contribute by speaking from your heart, share awareness, condolences, hope, insights, readings, poems or other positives.” About 50 people attended. Quite of few of them chose to speak their thoughts about racism and how to combat it. The event featured a pictorial memorial for the nine African Americans who were murdered while attending a South Carolina church service in June. The suspect is a white supremacist who wants to plead guilty.

At the end of the session, Margaret-Ann and Paula gathered names and contact information in order to organize follow-up action.

If you are interested in working with this project, please write pflagpdx.pbc@gmail.com.

Mariposa Award Honors Oregon Immigration Rights Advocate Couple

Jensi Albright is an American from Maine. Carmen Gutiérrez is Salvadoran. They met at a Portland language exchange in 2004 and soon fell in love.

Because of problems in Carmen’s home country, it would have been dangerous for her to return. If they had been a straight couple, they could have married in the U.S., and Carmen could have received her green card. However, at that time, the national Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) forbade any type of same-gender marriage recognition in federal law.

Carmen Gutiérrez and Jensi Albright holding their Mariposa Awards.
Carmen Gutiérrez and Jensi Albright holding their Mariposa Awards.

The couple had a Seattle wedding in 2012 when marriage equality was legalized in Washington State. They then courageously joined a campaign to demonstrate how DOMA harmed people. In early 2013, they worked with Causa, an Oregon Latino immigrant rights group, and held their commitment ceremony during its annual Immigrant Action Day in Salem.

A few months later, filmmaker Dan Sadowsky released his video “Love and Country.” Its DOMA Project page headline reads “VIDEO: Love and Country in Portland, Oregon–Jensi & Carmen Build a Life Together for Nearly a Decade and Advocate for an End to DOMA.”

The film made a very humanizing case for the elimination of DOMA related immigration restrictions.

Carmen became a permanent resident after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled part of DOMA to be unconstitutional. She was the first same-gender partner in Oregon to a receive green card as a result of that decision. But their film remains a moving narrative about the love between two people of the same gender and their brave struggle to maintain their relationship.

In July 2015, Portland Latino Gay Pride gave their Mariposa Award to both Jensi and Carmen.

Mariposa Award Given to Our House

            Founded in 1988, Our House of Portland is a is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization providing healthcare, housing, and other vital services to low-income people living with HIV/AIDS.

Over the years, Our House services have expanded, but its commitment to people living with HIV/AIDS has remained the same. “HIV/AIDS is a complex and challenging disease that can often be overwhelming,” the organization’s web site states. “The Our House team of expert clinicians works with people with advanced HIV/AIDS who are having difficulty managing independent living. They tailor services for each individual that defines what ‘living well’ means to them.”

Since its founding, Our House has “expanded services that now range from regular in-home visits by clinical staff to 24-hour residential skilled nursing services.”  As the health of a resident or client improves or declines, Our House is able to continue to provide services within its continuum of care. Current programs and services include Our House, Neighborhood Housing & Care Program, Esther’s Pantry, and Tod’s Corner.

Our House “maintains an inclusive community where values, experiences and identities are accepted, where respect for differences is shared and where questions, dialogue and education are encouraged.”

Our House has served a diverse clientele, many of whom have been gay and bisexual men. We are fortunate to have Our House in Portland to assist some in our community who are most in need. In appreciation of its decades of work, Portland Latino Gay Pride presented its 2015 Mariposa Award to Our House.

For more information, see the Our House web site at http://www.ourhouseofportland.org/.

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Post Author: PQ Monthly Staff

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PQ (Proud Queer) is a monthly print and daily online publication covering Oregon and SW Washington’s LGBTQ communities in all their diversity. We are committed to providing fair, timely and in-depth reporting on news that matters to LGBTQ people as well as insightful coverage of arts and culture.
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Proud Queer Monthly represents and provides LGBTQ news, entertainment, arts, culture, business directory, resources to the Portland, OR and SW Washington lesbian, gay, bi, trans, & queer community.

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