Queer Heroes NW: Very Young Heroes

By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly


Today, June 21, Queer Heroes NW honors young heroes Amari Fauna, Chloe Flora, Alex Horsey, and Aaron Ridings. The Queer Heroes NW project, which honored a new hero every day in June, is a collaboration between Q Center and the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific NW (GLAPN).


People of all ages were nominated for the Queer Heroes NW project. And rightly so. The struggle for full citizenship has not ended for queer people in the United States of America. People who are very young (at least, compared to the average age of GLAPN members) are recognizing needs in their communities, and going out of their way to meet them, sometimes at a significant personal cost. In that way, they’re not so different from the older heroes recognized during PRIDE 2012. It’s a good bet that our community will be hearing more from them as time goes by.

Amari Fauna
Chloe Flora

Amari Fauna and Chloe FloraThat’s Amari on the left, and Chloe on the right.

Amari and Chloe are the pioneers of Q Center’s TransFem* group as well as the Trans Life programs and the Communi-T Trans Resource Fair at Q Center.

They have day jobs. For the past four years, they have also taken major responsibility for programming at Q Center for the Trans community. Aside from support for individuals in transition, they have produced training for the professional community in trans cultural issues, and they are especially focused on developing competent and respectful medical care for members of their community.

After four years, they think they’re seeing some progress. Recently, other people have lent their energy to the ongoing groups at Q Center. Other organizations in town are developing training programs for those who deal with the trans community.

The event they pioneered, Communi-T: Portland’s Trans Resource Fair, is gaining momentum. It brings together providers to network, get some training, and then meet the public in a non-clinical setting. Two hundred people attended the last event, and a couple of dozen organizations presented exhibits. It appears that a young, trans community is developing, where there was none.

Will they ever work themselves out of a job? They look at each other. Maybe. But not any time soon.

Alex Horsey

Alex HorseyAlex Horsey is the founder of Project Believe in Me, a completely youth-led anti-bullying initiative.

The project is an open forum for discussing the subject of bullying, and offering strategies and support. Anyone and everyone who has something to say is invited and encouraged to submit a letter. Notable submissions include Hollywood Records artist Marie Digby, and Equal Vision Records artist Cody Carson. All submissions and other related information can be found at ProjectBelieveInMe.org.

In March, Alex and Project Believe in Me received a Youth Action Grant from the City of Portland and the Youth Planning Program to put on a citywide anti-bullying event for youth, tentatively scheduled for June 2. This event will provide the opportunity for Portland’s young people to come together and discuss the issues revolving around bullying in their schools and communities.

In addition to his anti-bullying work, Alex is the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Wilson High School, where he will be a senior in 2012-2013. Though the club has always had a presence at Wilson, this has been a year of major growth. At last year’s Nike Youth Forum, a statewide event for GSAs and similar clubs sponsored by GLSEN, Wilson attended with four students. This year, they were able to bring over 20 students to the event. The success that Wilson’s GSA has experienced this year is the product of a new leadership style, two fantastic advisers, and the excitement and commitment of this year’s members.

Aaron Ridings

Aaron RidingsAaron seems to be everywhere in the LGBTQ community, but, as he admits with a chuckle, nobody is quite certain what he does.

That’s because his personal style tends more to asking the right questions, helping people grow their own talents, and connecting folks to the resources they need, rather than being the star of the show.

Aaron’s first job with an LGBTQ affiliated organization was with Cascade AIDS Project. He was the 1999 AIDSWalk Assistant, and he worked for the CAP Housing Program in the furniture warehouse in 2000.

He volunteers all over town, so he does seem to be everywhere: at Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition, where he co-chairs, the Board of Directors; on the Advisory Board for TransActive Education and Advocacy; and on the Steering Committee, for the LGBTQ Meaningful Care Conference, to mention a few of his community involvements.

And yes, Aaron works for a living, at a series of coveted jobs that have kept him in the mainstream of LGBTQ issues. He has worked in Reserarch, Development and Training with Equity Foundation. He held various positions with Multnomah County, culminating in two-plus years in Policy and Constituent Relations, in the office of Commissioner Deborah Kafoury.

Currently, he is Development Manager at Basic Rights Oregon.

Every day in June, the Queer Heroes NW project revealed another hero. We posted them daily here.