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Oregon LGBTQ Youth Resources Timeline


Edited by Ampersand Crates
With suggested input from George T. Nicola and Jim Clay
The Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN)
Last updated 12/31/2015

This article is a chronological listing of some but probably not all of the various resources that have been available to Oregon LGBTQ youth since 1970. It is not meant to be a comprehensive history, but a starting point from which more detailed research can be done. We have no way of knowing all the LGBTQ related organizations that have been founded at high schools and colleges, but probably most Oregon colleges have had such groups at various time. 

Anything that appears here must be approved by editor Ampersand Crates, who identifies as queer and transgender, and who has done a considerable amount of work with LGBTQ youth. 

Unless otherwise stated and if known, the people mentioned in the article have identified as either gay, lesbian, queer, or bisexual. The others will be identified individually as trans(gender) or straight cisgender allies. Unless we do it this way, we cannot demonstrate the huge contributions made by trans people and our allies.

Some information comes from the book A Curious and Peculiar People, written by GLAPN member David (Dave) Grant Kohl and published by Spirit Press in 2006. We will abbreviate that as “CPP” when we cite it. 

Please send suggested edits and questions to Ampersand at info@glapn.org.

This article is a chronological listing of some but probably not all of the various resources that have been available to Oregon LGBTQ youth since 1970. It is not meant to be a comprehensive history, but a starting point from which more detailed research can be done. We have no way of knowing all the LGBTQ related organizations that have been founded at high schools and colleges, but probably most Oregon colleges have had such groups at various time. 

Anything that appears here must be approved by editor Ampersand Crates, who identifies as queer and transgender, and who has done a considerable amount of work with LGBTQ youth. 

Unless otherwise stated and if known, the people mentioned in the article have identified as either gay, lesbian, queer, or bisexual. The others will be identified individually as trans(gender) or straight cisgender allies. Unless we do it this way, we cannot demonstrate the huge contributions made by trans people and our allies.

Some information comes from the book A Curious and Peculiar People, written by GLAPN member David (Dave) Grant Kohl and published by Spirit Press in 2006. We will abbreviate that as “CPP” when we cite it. 

Please send suggested edits and questions to Ampersand at info@glapn.org.

The first verbiage in the parentheses at the end of an item is the source of the item. The very last verbiage is the last name of the person who provided the item for input.

1970

  • John Wilkinson, a 21-year-old staff member of the Willamette Bridge newspaper, suggests the organization of the Portland Gay Liberation Front (GLF). He is soon joined in the formation of the Portland GLF by recent Reed College graduate Holly Hart and 19-year-old Dave Davenport. For many months, all-ages weekly meetings are held at the Ninth Street Exit coffeehouse, located in SE Portland’s Centenary Wilbur Methodist Church. The Portland GLF is the first politically oriented gay group in Oregon and represents the birth of Oregon’s LGBTQ movement. Most of its early members are between the ages of 18 and 29. (From personal experience and CCP, Nicola)
  • Gay student groups are organized at Portland State University and the University of Oregon. (From personal experience and CPP, Nicola)

1971

  • The Second Foundation of Oregon, a Portland gay service and politically oriented organization, opens an all-ages gay community center. It continues operation until mid-1974. (From personal experience and CPP, Nicola)

1973

  • Rita Knapp, mother of lesbian activist Kristan Knapp, testifies in favor of House Bill 2930 before a House committee. HB 2930 was the first bill in Oregon that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Rita’s testimony is the first instance of an Oregon parent publically supporting their LGBTQ child. A local newspaper covers the story, and it goes out over the news wire services. (From personal experience, Nicola)

1974

  • The Sexual Minorities Counselling Center is established in Portland. It closes later in the decade. It was the first attempt in Oregon to create mental health services specifically for LGBTQ people. (From personal experience and from a phone interview with Dr. Thomas Cherry, Nicola)

1976

  • Lanny Swerdlow opens an all-ages Portland gay nightclub called Mildred’s Palace. His intent is to create an alternative to the streets where gay kids had been congregating. Lanny eventually leaves Portland and the club closes. (From conversations I have had with Lanny, Nicola)
  • Governor Bob Straub’s Task Force on Sexual Preference recommends that parents form a support group for their gay kids. So Task Force member Ann Shepherd and her husband Bill (parents of lesbian activist Susie Shepherd) join with Rita and Charles Knapp (parents of lesbian activist Kristan Knapp) to create Parents of Gays (POG). POG sets up a table at the Pride rally for people to sign up for their new group. (http://pflagpdx.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/PFLAG-PDX-30th-Anniversary-History-3-portrait.pdf and from various emails I have received from PFLAG activists Susie Shepherd and Dawn Holt, Nicola) 

1977

1978

  • Lanny Swerdlow returns to Portland and opens another all-ages gay venue, this one called The City Nightclub. (From conversations I have had with Lanny, Nicola)
  • Portland Town Council incorporates the non-profit Town Council Foundation to do educational work. The organization eventually became a counselling service called Phoenix Rising. (http://glapn.org/6026EqualityOrganizations.html)

1981

  • In 1981, leaders of 20 LGBTQ support groups from around the country meet in Los Angeles to form the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc. Portland physician Estill Deitz, hearing of the meeting, attends and bring news back to POG’s board, which decides to ally with the nascent national organization. In 1982 POG became P-FLAG Portland, is granted tax exempt status, and incorporates in the State of Oregon (dropping the hyphen). PFLAG Portland becomes the parent of about 12 other PFLAG chapters throughout Oregon. They now support the entire LGBTQ spectrum, and are often the only LGBTQ advocacy groups in small towns. Today, about half of the members are straight cisgender allies and the other half are LGBTQ. 

1992

  • The Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), sponsors their first statewide Ballot Measure 9. It would amend the Oregon constitution to require that schools “shall assist in setting a standard for Oregon's youth that recognizes homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse and that these behaviors are to be discouraged and avoided.” Voters defeat the initiative. (http://www.glapn.org/6007historyLGBTQrights.html#xiiThefirstMeasure9, Nicola)

1995

  • Two services were offered by Network Behavioral Healthcare. The program for LGBTQ youth is called Roots and Branches. Helios Services provides counselling to LGBTQ adults. In the early 2000s, all eventually become part of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare. (Through email correspondence from Jim Clay, Nicola)

1998

  • The Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) is established to create safety and support for LGBTQ youth in Oregon through youth empowerment, community building, education and direct services. In about 2013, it is put under the control of Portland Q Center. It is merged into New Avenues for Youth in 2015. (http://www.smyrc.org/, Nicola) For a time, SMYRC may have been absorbed into Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare. (Through email correspondence from Jim Clay, Nicola)

2000

  • Woodburn High School student Jonathan Reitan and a group of friends get their school to include “sexual orientation” in district policy, form Woodburn’s first GSA, hold Woodburn’s first “National Day of Silence” event, and create “Safe Space” classrooms where LGBTQ students can go to feel welcome when being faced with bulling and harassment at school. Jonathan and his then boyfriend are also the first same sex couple to ever dance together publicly at a school dance. (http://glapn.org/6365Tomorrow2013.html, Nicola)
  • The Oregon Citizens Alliance sponsors a second statewide Ballot Measure 9. This one is titled “Prohibits Public School Instruction Encouraging, Promoting, Sanctioning Homosexual, Bisexual Behaviors.” The Oregon Parent Teachers Association submits an opposition statement in the Voters’ Pamphlet. The measure is defeated. (http://www.glapn.org/6007historyLGBTQrights.html#xviiiOCAssecondMeasure9, Nicola)

2001

  • Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition (OSSCC) is established to support community efforts to reduce youth suicide and other risky behaviors among LGBTQ youth. (http://www.oregonsafeschools.org/about/, Nicola)
  • Rainbow Youth, Inc., is founded in Salem. Its stated mission is “to serve the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youth in Marion and Polk counties.” http://www.salemrainbowyouth.org/missionBylaws.html, Nicola)

2006

  • Q Center opens its first “bricks and mortar” facility in the inner Southeast warehouse district, and quickly outgrows the 1,000 square feet of space. In 2009, Q Center moves to its present home on North Mississippi Avenue while expanding its programmatic reach. Q Center’s mission is to provide a safe space to support and celebrate LGBTQ diversity, visibility, and community building. (http://www.pdxqcenter.org/about/faq/, Nicola)

2008

  • TransActive Gender Center is founded by transgender activist Jenn Burleton. It describes itself as “an internationally recognized non-profit focused on serving the diverse needs of transgender and gender nonconforming (GNC) children, youth, their families and allies.” The organization also advocates for legal and government administrative changes that help transgender people. (http://www.transactiveonline.org/index.php, Nicola)
  • Lotus Rising Project is founded. According to its website, it “was created by youth and mentors who wanted to make a positive impact on social change in southern Oregon. The founders saw a need for changes in our communities, our agencies and our services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally people.” (http://glapn.org/6026EqualityOrganizations.html, Nicola)

2009

2010

  • Oregon Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are started. The GSAs are student-initiated and student-run clubs in public or private schools. The goal of a GSA is to provide a safe, supportive environment for LGBTQ and straight ally youth, to meet and discuss sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and to work to create a school environment free of discrimination, harassment, and intolerance. (http://www.oregongsa.com/gsa-resources/, Nicola)        
  • Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), our state’s primary LGBTQ equality advocacy group since 1996, launches Our Families, a leadership development program by and for LGBTQ and allied people of color. Our Families begins an eponymous public education campaign. (http://www.basicrights.org/programs-policy/racial-justice/, Nicola)

2011

2012

  • The Tiger Woods Center hosts about 400 students at the 9th annual Nike Youth Forum. It is a daylong conference for students in GSAs from high schools across Oregon and southwest Washington. The event is organized by the Oregon chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and members of Nike's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Friends Employee Network. (http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2012/04/hundreds_of_gay-straight_allia.html, Nicola)

2013

  • Amanda Brings Plenty-Wright (Klamath/Modoc) founds the Portland Two-Spirit Society (PTSS) to help revive the Two Spirit tradition. Two Spirit is a tradition in indigenous North American cultures that reveres LGBTQ people as the embodiment of both masculine and feminine energies. PTSS is formed as a social group for Two Spirits, but later takes on a cultural and educational role. This plants the seed for 2SY, the Two Spirit Youth group run by the Native American Rehabilitation Association. In collaboration with of Western States Center and 2SY, PTSS starts developing a youth curriculum and tool kit including coming out stories and cultural workshops.
     (http://glapn.org/6350AmandaBringsPlentyWright2013.html and from my Facebook Message correspondence with Asa, Nicola)
  • The Portland GSA Youth Chorus is founded as a “safe and welcoming place for all youth ages 13-22 to unite for the love of music.” It “is open to all LGBTQ and straight allied youth in the area.” (https://www.facebook.com/PortlandGSAYouthChorus/info?tab=page_info, Nicola)
  • Queer Intersections (Qi) Portland is founded by 19-year-old Giovanni Blair McKenzie, a Jamaican immigrant who identifies as queer and trans. The organization is formed to advocate for, promote the visibility of, and work to build stronger communities for LGBTQ youth of color. (http://www.glapn.org/6530GiovanniMcKenzie.html, Nicola)
  • Leila Hofstein is hired to be a full time Youth Coordinator for PFLAG Portland Black Chapter. In 2014, she is selected as a Queer Hero NW. (http://glapn.org/6471LeilaHofstein.html, GLAPN)
  • The son of Korean immigrants, John Kim sits on the Board of Governors for the Oregon and Southwest chapter of the Human Rights Campaign. By the age of 29, John travels to Washington, D.C. numerous times to lobby for LGBTQ equality. John is selected as a Queer Hero NW in 2013. He is an excellent public speaker, and often addresses the audiences at LGBTQ related events. (http://glapn.org/6365Tomorrow2013.html, Nicola)
  • Journalist Erin Rook comes out twice this year, in print. He came out as a transgender man. And he went public, for the first time, with an unflinching look at his experience as a survivor of domestic violence. (http://glapn.org/6365Tomorrow2013.html, Nicola)
  • The Portland Police Bureau produced an “It Gets Better” video to combat homophobia and to reassure and support LGBTQ youth who feel alone and harassed. (http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/06/portland_police_bureau_posts_i.html)

2014

2015

  • A 22-year-old Ugandan asylee, Twesiga Disan is brought to Portland under sponsorship of the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus and PFLAG Portland Black Chapter. (From my talks with Steve Fulmer, one of Disan’s sponsors and http://www.pqmonthly.com/one-long-road-to-freedom/21780, Nicola)
  • Because of Giovanni Blair McKenzie’s articulate advocacy, the Human Rights Campaign appoints him as National Youth Ambassador. In this role, Giovanni delivers a compelling speech at the 2015 HRC Foundation's Time to THRIVE youth focused Conference. A video of the presentation is featured in the Southern Poverty Law’s (SPL) Teaching Tolerance program. (http://glapn.org/6530GiovanniMcKenzie.html, Nicola) In the same year, Giovanni is given the Queer Heroes NW Award by GLAPN and the Light a Fire Emerging Leader Award by Portland Monthly Magazine. (http://glapn.org/6530GiovanniMcKenzie.html, http://www.pdxmonthly.com/articles/2015/10/20/emerging-leader-giovanni-mckenzie-of-queer-intersections-force, Nicola)
  • Lesbian activist Llondyn Renee Lashawn Elliott is given the Queer Heroes NW Award by GLAPN. Llondyn, who is 18 at the time, has just graduated from Portland’s Jefferson High School where she was an active member of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). Llondyn is on the Steering Committee of PFLAG Portland Black Chapter and is involved in the Urban League of Portland’s Social Justice and Civic Leadership Program.                                   (http://glapn.org/6518LlondynElliott.html, Nicola)
  • House Bill 2307 passes, prohibiting mental health care or social health professionals from engaging in efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity if the recipient of those efforts is under 18 years of age. (https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2307/Introduced, Nicola)
  • The Cascade Campus of Portland Community College launches its new Queer Resource Center (QRC). PCC’s website states, “The Queer Resource Center’s mission is to facilitate a campus community that intentionally advocates for, supports, and empowers students, faculty, staff, and alumni of all sexualities, sexes, gender identities, and gender expressions. We conduct educational outreach as well as provide a safe, welcoming space that offers both academic and personal support to Portland Community College’s LGBTQQ and Ally communities.” (http://www.pqmonthly.com/pcc-cascade-campus-launches-queer-resource-center/23925, Nicola)
 

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