Joe Bell of La Grande, Ore., whose son Jadin committed suicide last year after being bullied for being gay, was struck and killed by a truck on Oct. 10 in Colorado while on “Joe’s Walk for Change,” a cross-country trip to honor his son and raise awareness about the devastating effects of bullying. “Joe’s mission was one of love that was bigger than he was (and bigger than any one organization),” reads a statement on the website for Faces For Change, an organization launched by Jadin’s family and friends after his suicide. “His purpose was — and always will be — to ensure that the choices faced by his son Jadin will never be visited upon another young person.” Donations for the Bell family and the organization are currently being accepted at facesforchange.com.
According to Oregon United for Marriage, the Portland Thorns, Timbers, and Trail Blazers have “made history by becoming the first major pro sports teams ever to endorse a campaign for the freedom to marry.” OU4M announced Oct. 11 that Merritt Paulson and his two soccer clubs, the Timbers and Thorns, had endorsed the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative, an attempt to overturn Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. “We are proud to support Oregon United for Marriage and its efforts to secure the freedom to marry for all Oregonians next November,” Paulson said in a release. Timbers/Thorns COO Mike Golub added in a video message: “We believe it’s time for Oregon to recognize this fundamental right. And we hope you will join us at the Timbers and Thorns, and affirm this right to marry at the ballot next November.” The announcement prompted Portland Mercury writer Denis C. Theriault to call on the Trail Blazers basketball team to make a similar announcement. Theriault received the following emailed response from Michael Lewellen, Blazers’ VP for communications: “The Portland Trail Blazers are in support of the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection ballot initiative. We do so as believers in individual choice as a fundamental right of all people.” Oregon company Columbia Sportswear and its CEO Tim Boyle also endorsed marriage equality this month, as did the Oregon Business Association.
Social Justice Fund Northwest has selected Antoinette Edwards, co-founder of PFLAG Portland Black Chapter and Thomas Jefferson High School’s first gay-straight alliance, to receive their 2013 Jeannette Rankin Award, an annual honor given to a lifelong activist serving the region that includes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, and Oregon. Edwards will receive the award at SJF’s annual dinner celebration in Seattle on Oct. 19. For more information, visit socialjusticefund.org.
Back in the news yet again this month is Se-ah-dom Edmo, who received the 2013 Fighting Spirit Award at Basic Right’s Oregon’s Ignite! Gala on Oct. 11. Edmo, coordinator at the Indigenous Ways of Knowing Program at Lewis & Clark College, led the effort to create a “Tribal Equity Toolkit” to garner support for Two Spirit and LGBTQ justice within Native communities. According to a BRO press release, the award celebrates Edmo’s “phenomenal work linking together the racial justice movement and with the movement to advance equality for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”
Queer youth will benefit from two recent developments at opposite ends of the state. The new Portland GSA Youth Chorus — open to gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, queer, questioning, intersex, and allied youth — hosted a kick-off celebration Sept. 29, and is now holding weekly rehearsals. For information on performances and rehearsals, go to facebook.com/PortlandGSAYouthChorus or email PdxYouthChorus@gmail.com. Down in Medford, the Lotus Rising Project, a social justice organization for LGBT youth ages 14-24, opened its first office and community center after a decade of operating out of individual homes. The project held an open house on Oct. 10 at its new space in Medford’s Woolworth Building. For more information visit lotusrisingproject.org.
The country celebrated National Coming Out Day Oct. 11, but Multnomah County got the party started a little early by releasing its official Coming Out Day Proclamation on Oct. 10. Speakers at the event marking the proclamation included Multnomah County Chief Diversity and Equity Officer Daryl Dixon, Basic Rights Oregon Racial Justice organizer and PFLAG Black Portland Chapter organizer Khalil Edwards, Q Center Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones, Multnomah County Prism-Employee Resource Group Chair Liz Rodríguez, PFLAG Portland Black Chapter members Lakeitha Elliot and Monica Fields-Fears, Monica Noe of PSU’s Queer Resource Center, and David Ben, Two Spirit advocate on the Confederated Tribes Of Siletz Indians Two Spirit Change Team.
Have you made plans to compete in or cheer on the 2014 Gay Games in Aug, 9-16 in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio? Once you do, get ready to start saving up those frequent flyer miles again, because Paris (the one in France) won the bid to host the 2018 games, the Federation of Gay Games announced this month. In the meantime, scholarship applications for the 2014 games are being accepted through Oct. 31. For information on the Gay Games and to apply for a scholarship to participate, visit gaygames.org.
News anchor/silver fox Anderson Cooper will fill in for an injured Tom Brokaw as the “distinguished guest speaker” Oct. 22 at Portland State University’s 14th annual Simon Benson Awards Dinner, a gala to honor alumni and philanthropists. Brokaw said in a statement that he had “developed a painful, complicated back condition.” PSU President Wim Wiewel lamented Brokaw’s injury, but hailed Cooper as “a guy that has been around the world, lived through some of the most significant events of our time, and is still doing it. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our community.” At the event, PSU alumnus Bill Stoller will receive the Simon Benson Award for Alumni Achievement; alumnus Rick Miller and his wife, Erika, will be honored with the Simon Benson Award for Philanthropy. For more information, visit pdx.edu/giving/simon-benson-awards-dinner.
Basic Rights Oregon will host the 2013 Trans Justice Summit Nov. 9, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., at Portland State University’s Native American Student and Community Center. The summit seeks to develop trans leaders and help strengthen the trans justice movement. According to BRO, the summit is free but space is limited and priority will be given to those “who identify as trans women, trans people of color, trans youth, and those at the intersections of these identities.” Contact Adrian Martínez at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about registering for the summit.
Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) introduced the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” (H.R.3133) on Sept. 19. With 82 co-sponsors — of which at least two are Democrats —, the bill is summarized by the Congressional Research Service as prohibiting “the federal government from taking an adverse action against a person on the basis that: (1) such person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, voiced strong support for the bill in a press release on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website. “In a growing climate of intolerance against individuals and organizations who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, this act is an important step in preserving their religious liberties at the federal level,” Lori said. Heather Cronk, co-director of GetEQUAL, calls the bill “a political stunt, pure and simple.… As a seminary graduate, I would fight tooth and nail for religious liberty and I firmly maintain that religious liberty is a cornerstone of American democracy; however, this bill isn’t about religious freedom. This bill is about falsely positioning discriminatory companies as victims.”
Harvey Milk’s son, Stuart Milk, announced on Facebook Oct. 10 that his father will be immortalized on a United States Postal Service “Forever Stamp” in 2014. Mark Saunders, USPS senior public relations representative, confirmed the decision in an email reply to PQ Monthly. “We will preview the stamp image at a later date along with information on when the stamp dedication will take place,” Saunders wrote.