Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Jessica Carreras
Julia LeBrell of Dearborn is an activist with lots of energy. The 23-year-old substitute teacher is the legal chair and volunteer coordinator for the Southeast Michigan Dyke March, but also finds time to give herself to other causes – especially ones involving the environment and helping kids get educated.
1) What sparked your interest in LGBT rights and activism?
I really became active in the LGBT community after Proposition 8 passed in California. While I opposed the ban, I did not actively campaign against it. I thought that other people would be better at effecting change.
I remember feeling such incredible frustration, watching same-sex marriage bans pass in Michigan in 2004, and Wisconsin in 2006, but being hopeful that the same thing would not happen in California. However, after its passage, I realized that I could not expect others to advocate for my needs if I wouldn’t do it for myself.
And it helps that a lot of smoking hot women are involved in LGBT activism.
2) How were you involved with the creation of the Southeast Michigan Dyke March?
I am one of the founding board members of the Southeast Michigan Dyke March, a non-profit organization that is hosting the first annual Southeast Michigan Dyke March & Rally on June 5.
In 2009, after attending the Chicago Dyke March with my friends Eric and Meggie, we decided that we had to bring this empowering event to Michigan. We began working with the city of Ferndale to create the Southeast Michigan Dyke March & Rally last October. Since then, we recruited two more fantastic people to serve on our board, incorporated our non-profit organization and launched our website.
We have also put on a series of social events and fundraisers, and have become connected with other LGBT organizations in the Midwest. We will continue to have education and social events throughout the year that promote visibility and inclusion of the lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
3) What other volunteer efforts have you taken part in?
As a kid who never really stopped moving, I have been volunteering before I even knew what volunteering was.
I have been active in several different organizations, including Gleaner’s Community Food Bank, the Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan and St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Dearborn Heights. In the last four years, I have worked with several educational projects, including Gleaner’s nutrition education programming, environmental literacy day camps, and volunteering as a teacher’s aid and tutor.
I just recently began helping with Affirmations’ GED tutoring program, and am incredibly excited to be a part of it.
My parents and church community instilled in me the value of community service, and the importance of investing time and energy in causes that promote positive change you believe in.
4) Why is it important to you to be part of a connected LGBT community?
Through the work I’ve done within the LGBT community, I have met some of the most amazing people with such passion to make their world a better place. I’m constantly amazed by the strength and courage of the members of our community. I think the better connected we are as a community, the better we can utilize our resources.
5) What LGBT issue is most important to you?
One of the biggest LGBT issues is creating safe schools for LGBT youth and children. Schools should be a safe space for all students to learn, grow and explore their identities, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. But until we can guarantee that, we have an obligation to create alternative safe spaces for them, like youth centers and all-age activities.
I strongly believe that when we make safe spaces for our most at-risk minority group – LGBT youth – we make a safer community for everyone.
Get involved like Julia at http://www.semidykemarch.org.