Biggest local queer news stories of 2011

Melody Awesomazing stands above the crowd of solidarity at Hands Across Hawthorne

When you mix queer drama and local politics what do you get? Some pretty interesting news for a city that keeps it weird. And boy, this year we had lots of local news. I was able to come up with 10 topics here in addition to including some local news stories in the most read posts of 2011. Boy, you can make some news people!

10 – Dan Savage combats transphobia accusations, gets glitterbombed

As an advice columnist it’s not surprising that Dan Savage has no qualms about speaking his mind and standing behind his opinions either brilliant or misguided. This makes him a polarizing figure both inside and outside his community. So there is plenty of back and forth about both times Savage was glitterbombed for alleged transphobic (and biphobic?) comments he has made. I think it’s clear that Savage has done some good things for the community, most notably the “It Gets Better” campaign among his years of speaking out. This doesn’t excuse him from transphobia or even just plain being a jerk and this conversation is one that’s important to keep having.

9 – OSU cancels visit from Tristan Taormino

Colleges are known for pushing the envelope in regards to academics and conference subjects so sex-positive speaker Tristan Taormino seemed like a natural choice for Oregon State’s Modern Sex conference last January. But the university cancelled her visit and refused to pay her $3000 fee saying that they would not support a pornographer with general funds. It was a surprising move, especially considering other porn-related workshops and guests had been a part of the conference before. Controversy erupted with calls of misogyny and hypocrisy. And then rival school Uof O stepped up to host Taormino. Then again, they are also the team that makes American Sign Language signal for vagina at it’s sporting events…I bet you can guess what team I’d root for.

8 – Sam Adams decides not to seek reelection

Scandal erupted shortly after Mayor Sam Adams was first elected concerning a young paramour. Though the fervor that surrounded that scandal has died down Portlanders have not forgotten, and Adams acknowledged that it would make for a tough race if he were to run for a second term as mayor. So instead he announced that he was doing what he thought was best by leaving the campaign behind in favor of concentrating on the needs of the city. Here’s to hoping there’s more fabulousness to be had in City Hall in the future. You certainly weren’t boring Sammy.

7 – Kendall Clawson steps down as Q Center Executive Director

When the Queer Community Center’s Executive Director Kendall Clawson decided to take a job with Gov Kitzhaber it was one of those bittersweet moments. On one hand it was excited to have an incredible ally in the Governor’s office, on the other, a huge loss for Q Center. She was the Center’s first full-time director and it took until May to find a replacement in Barbara McCullough-Jones.

6 – BRO decides to postpone the gay marriage push

Despite running ads supporting marriage equality in 2011, Basic Rights Oregon decided they didn’t have the capital to put gay marriage on an Oregon ballot in 2012. Though they ultimately believe that public opinion will eventually favor our cause they felt that it would be too costly to run this campaign now without a solid chance at victory. One reader expressed this sentiment about the decision: “I think this is a good idea although I am not sure they actually will be diverting those funds to directly supporting queers w/o housing, health insurance, jobs.” It’s a criticism to think about.

5 – 80 year-old drag icon Darcelle gets arrested

This is Darcelle, the elderly drag queen they thought was threatening enough to arrest

Whether or not you’re a big fan of Oregon liquor laws and those that enforce them it’s easy to see why LGBT people, especially those who have lived through years of police raids on gay bars, could be distrustful of any authority figure coming into their establishment. These are only some of the reasons that is seemed entirely uncalled for to arrest Portland drag icon Darcelle, aka, Walter Cole, this August. Did I mention that though they had their badges “ready to show” they didn’t and that they felt intimidated by an octagenarian trying to shoo them away? Yeah, I wouldn’t arrest Grandma either…

4 – Trans city workers get healthcare

Two bits political legislation news tie for third place. This June the Portland City Council unanimously passed a decision to grant healthcare to its trasngendered employees. It was the third jurisdiction in the country to do so and, though it is something of a controversial move in the mainstream, its estimated $32,302 out of a total $41,615,000 CityCore Cost Projection was minimal enough that there wasn’t significant political backlash.

3 – Occupy Portland and the whole Occupy movement

No one can deny that the Occupy movement was one of the biggest news stories of the year all across the states. Time Magazine even named “The Protestor” its person of the year. It was certainly no different here in Occupy Portland where protestors took up residence in 3 downtown parks from the initial October 6th march until the city shut them down November 10th.

While this wasn’t about gay rights specifically it’s a story that just couldn’t be ignored and contributor Hans Ryan talked to some local queers that were part of Occupy PDX and gay folks at many of the Occupy sites made their presence known various ways. There were the gay wedding at Zucatti Park and the gay porn shoot at Occupy Oakland. So queers had a big hand in this fight. (We’re the 10% of the 99%?)

2 – Just Out ceases publication

Just Out gave me my first taste of lesbian comic 'Dykes to Watch Out For" when I was a teenager in the 90s

Though we have all known that media, especially print media, is a struggling industry right now, everyone was shocked at the sudden decision of Just Out publisher Marty Davis to cease publication of Oregon’s oldest LGBT news source. The day after Christmas Davis announced that the December 9th issue was the last that the 28 year old newspaper would put out, leaving a pretty big whole in gay Oregon news. No matter what your opinion on JO it has been a prominent voice in our community and its loss will be deeply felt. Luckily qPDX and FabulousPDX are teaming up to try and help fill that void. Details are still emerging as Rob and I work on how best to serve our community but rest assured, big things are in the works.

1 – More hate crimes and Hands Across Hawthorne

Oregon has had its fair share of high profile hate crimes over the past few years and, unfortunately, 2011 was no different. However the response was. Of course, we’ve had town halls, Q Patrols and meetings before but this year’s Hands Across Hawthorne was a particularly inspiring event following the assault of two gay men holding hands near the Hawthorne Bridge this May. Later in the year a march was organized against assaults on the LGBTQ community. The march went through downtown, stopping at local night clubs and bars as symbol to declare these places “safe”. 400 people marched the streets screaming, “We are not afraid.” We hope, once again, that 2012 will be the year we don’t have to report on more bias crimes, but that seems about as likely as the world ending this December, which I guess would mean I, at least, wouldn’t be writing about it in a 2012 year in review post.

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