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Road to the red carpet

I had woken up from a nightmare, earlier than normal for me, when I received an email that I was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. Instead of going back to sleep, I obsessively read everything possible about the awards and nominees and grew increasingly excited. There was certainly a period of disbelief — how on earth did GLAAD even come across a series in the Juneau Empire? 

Juneau's PFLAG chapter had sent links and supporting materials to GLAAD back in 2013, the first step toward what I eventually discovered is a red carpet event. Now, less than two weeks out from the star-studded Los Angeles event, it's worth looking at the path to the red carpet.

It started with an idea, a passion project; I wanted to provide an in-depth look at Juneau's LGBTQ population and the struggles and joys associated with societal and structural marginalization and triumphs in equality over the years. I started talking with friends, then attending get-togethers and talking to people about what was important and what life was like in Juneau and in other places they had lived. While I interviewed about 16 people for the series, I spoke to many, many more. So many thanks are due to the people who were there to provide guidance, speak out and be profiled. 

When PFLAG Juneau nominated my series, I had no idea. It came as such a surprise to find my name on a list of other nominees from big cities and powerful news organizations, but speaking with a GLAAD representative via email, he pointed out that news on LGBTQ issues in smaller communities and smaller newspapers is just as important as coverage in the biggest publications. 

In the few months since, the award nomination hasn't been far from my mind. It's a great ego boost to think, "Today may not be great, but it's pretty awesome that I'll be representing the Juneau Empire as a nominee for a national award." And while it has seemed alternately silly and incredibly important, I have received strong support and encouragement from friends and acquaintances, all telling me "Go to the awards!" 

I decided I wanted to make it happen. To get really personal with my financial situation, I live on a pretty tight budget, dedicating a large portion of a month's pay to rent, utilities, student loan payments, etc. And when it comes to big expenses like travel, it can be trying to even do the annual family visit — last year I used a week of my PTO for a staycation because travel wasn't in the budget. Basically, this trip wouldn't be happening without help.

Help, however, was not hard to come by. I started a crowd-funding campaign and reached out to friends and family on facebook with a fundraising goal of $1,500. My goal was to cover costs like the flight, the event ticket, a car rental and accomodations for at least one night, and as of this weekend, that goal has been met. Spread among about 30 generous friends and community members, the financial goal was reached — exceeded, even! — and that's amazing. 

With Juneau's support, I will be attending the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on April 12! And as crazy as this sounds, I'll be walking the red carpet along with stars like Jennifer Lopez, Ellen Page and Laverne Cox. I'm sure to be glowing with the knowledge that I am there because of the bravery of those who shared their stories and the generosity of those who made donations toward this trip. 

Win or lose, I promise to make a Swiftian (Taylor, not Jonathan) speech and post it to youtube to thank everyone who made this possible. And if there's a betting pool on whether I trip while walking the red carpet, I've got $5 on yes, and you can watch the red carpet live at www.glaad.org/mediaawards/live2014 to find out.

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