June Newsletterpublished on Jun 12, 2020
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Dear OUTWORDS Family and Supporters,
It’s sometimes hard to know where to start. The last few weeks have been a powerful brew of anger, grief, determination – and hope. Is our nation ready to finally confront our racial sins and wounds? Only time (and our own levels of individual commitment) will tell.
In the meantime, it’s Pride Month. To me, the timing is actually good, offering the opportunity to ask, what does Pride mean right now? In its infancy, the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement was inclusive and intersectional. Our quest was to lift every marginalized person’s fortunes, not just our own. Those values were our Pole Star. Many people believe it’s time to reclaim that legacy. I’m one of them.
“Return to Resistance”: A Timely Event for Pride Month
On Wednesday, June 17 @ 5pm PT / 8pm ET, OUTWORDS will host an important and timely online event called RETURN TO RESISTANCE: Pride, Intersectionality, and Racial
Justice in 2020. Co-sponsored by WeWork, the panel will feature retired Minnesota state legislator Karen Clark, who lives just ten blocks from where George Floyd died; legendary trans person of color advocate Miss Major Griffin-Gracy; Los Angeles community mental health activist Marianne Diaz; and Michael Hickerson, a pioneer in addressing HIV/AIDS racial disparities in New Orleans. Click here to register for what is sure to be a challenging, inspiring conversation about the LGBTQ+ community’s responsibility in addressing white supremacy and systemic violence against Black lives in America.
Also, take note! We have another exciting online event coming up on Wednesday June 25. Please mark your calendars, and stay tuned for details.
Retooling the OUTWORDS Interview Model
OUTWORDS recorded our first 141 interviews by rolling up to our subjects’ front doors, stepping inside their homes, setting up camera, microphone and lights, and pressing ‘Record.’ Those days are gone – at least for a while. So our talented team has spent the last month figuring out how to record interviews remotely.
Thanks to some timely support from Zoom (communications) and Logitech (webcams), we are on our way. What’s more, recording interviews remotely will enable us to reach many more people (especially those in remote parts of America – more quickly. But I gotta tell you – it’s a big shift for us, and it has cost a lot of staff time and money. If you are in a position to support us at this moment, please click here. $10 per month (or more) goes a long way for us!
Karen Clark: Report from George Floyd’s Neighborhood
As mentioned above, OUTWORDS interviewee Karen Clark served as the elected state representative from the East Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. She wrote this reflection to share with the OUTWORDS community. It’s full of realness, sadness, and hope. We thank Karen for her generous contribution to our newsletter.
"I am writing this after a day in my neighborhood that was hard yet hopeful. I’ve lived in East Phillips Neighborhood in South Minneapolis for nearly 40 years. My home is about 10 blocks from the site of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police last week. The neighborhood shows it…” Click here to read the full story
OUTWORDS Website Upgrade
One year ago, we built a brand-new website with the help of a team of developers in India, to tell people about OUTWORDS and also to share our full-length interviews with the world. The site worked great, but we want to make it a bit “prettier” and also user-friendly. So (drum roll please), we’re proud to unveil our newly-upgraded site. Please take a tour, spend some time on our Full Interviews page, try out our ‘Search’ function, and send us a note with any comments. As always, we’d love to hear from you.
Donor Profile – Caroline Byrd
I’d like to take a quick moment here to thank our wonderful donor, Caroline Byrd. ‘Caro’ and I have known each other since high school (the dark ages). She’s had an incredible career as a lawyer on the front lines of the environmental movement, most recently serving as executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Caro is also one of OUTWORDS’ highly-treasured monthly donors. Monthly donors are critically important to any non-profit. They help with budgeting, cover financial gaps, and provide a powerful emotional boost as well. Caro wrote, “I support OUTWORDS because it is an important, meaningful project brilliantly executed. These stories enrich all of us. They build understanding and compassion. OUTWORDS is an essential part of the human story.” Thank you Caroline for your support!
Rest in Power, Larry Kramer
On May 27, one of the most powerful voices in the queer community passed away. Larry Kramer was a legendary activist and writer. His play The Normal Heart is a landmark work of both gay art and advocacy. But what I want to say primarily about Larry is that he demonstrated the power of anger in a way that we all need right now. He was uncompromising. He was loud. He was strident. He was fearless. And he got results. Larry founded a movement, and millions of people are alive today as a result.
OUTWORDS never had the chance to add Larry’s voice to this archive; but his voice resonates loudly in our heart and conscience. At this moment in particular, I know Larry would tell us to keep fighting, and never, ever give up.
OUTWORDS was founded on the principle that our LGBTQ/queer pioneers and elders have a lot to teach us. Now more than ever, we believe that is true. You can help us to continue gathering and sharing their inspiring stories. Meanwhile, in the days, weeks and months ahead, let’s be as tireless and dedicated and courageous as they were.
Executive Director, OUTWORDS