In the basement of the Douglas Community Methodist Church, members of the LGBTQ community and allies met for a Town Hall meeting to discuss future events and goals.
Devyn Reece, who as a duchess of the Imperial Court of All Alaska, helped to lead the evening’s discussion, though the event was organized with the help of members of SEAGLA and the PFLAG Pride Chorus and the Pride Foundation. There were representatives at the meeting from SEAGLA, PFLAG, the Pride Chorus, ICOAA, The Four A’s, the University of Alaska Southeast’s Gay-Straight Alliance and the Pride Foundation.
Visiting for the event from out of town were Amy White, Pride Foundation Northwest’s director of regional operations and leadership, and Josh Hemsath, the regional development organizer for Alaska, who co-moderated the event with Reece. Town Hall events had been held in other Alaska cities, with the opportunity for Juneauites to phone in, but this was Juneau’s first in-person town hall event, with around 25 attendees.
Hemsath asked the group, “What would LGBT equality and allied equality look like if we all got together? What are some of the priorities that we see that we need to work on?”
He urged attendees to think about not just Juneau, but of the whole of Alaska, or even the United States.
Attendees were broken down into small groups to discuss some questions and later reorganized into working groups to make solid plans for the future.
What events or activities did attendees like from the past year?
• Femme Fatale, annual drag show put on by Four A’s
• SEAGLA Pride Picnic
• Equality for All fundraiser
• World AIDS Day event and related film
• Friday social meet-ups
• Pied Piper reception with cruise attendees
• PFLAG and SEAGLA roadside cleanup
• “8” stage reading
What goals did attendees have?
• Increase involvement and attendance
• More formal lobbying, keeping an eye on HB 139
• Expanding on current events, to create something more fun and more open to the public
• Have good turn-out for future events, like Drag Bingo
• Collaborate more among groups on activities and events
• Have a better social media presence and have one site for communication across groups
• Make events more accessible to community members and allies outside the groups
• Transition leadership more smoothly
• Do more for the July 4 parade float
• Testify on non-discrimination bill, HB 139, see it pass
• Increase visibility of groups and events
• Have a better community calendar
• Partner with business allies
• Increase education available to community
• Reach out to youth to offer positive adult influence within community
• Expand Safe Zone training to high schools
• Work on anti-bullying measures
• Offer leadership training
• Assure there are faculty advisors for GSAs at schools
Finally, attendees broke down into working groups covering topics of publicity and communications, education, event organization and policy.
LGBTQ town hall meetings are anticipated to become a quarterly event, though greater collaboration is encouraged among groups outside of these meetings.
To get involved or learn more, find the newly created Southeast Alaska LGBTQ Connections page on facebook at facebook.com/SEAKLGBTQ .