By Tara Cavanaugh
Here are some of the inspiring volunteers and organizers featured during the past year in BTL’s Between Ourselves. The biweekly column showcases people who are doing good work for the LGBT community – and who might otherwise go unnoticed. If you know of someone who should be featured in Between Ourselves, email our news editor Tara Cavanaugh at [email protected]
I love that legislators most often appreciate a good argument, and by that I mean an informed argument.
-Emily Dievendorf, policy director at Equality Michigan
KICK does a lot of positive things for the black community. It’s an outstanding organization. We’re here for the people. And if you need help, don’t hesitate to call.
-Tony Johnson, longtime volunteer at KICK
The only way we’re going to be able to effectively battle discrimination is to put ourselves out there.
-Alex Krasicky, intern and office coordinator at Transgender Michigan
You have to look at ways to change the way you’re giving information to the public. You can’t keep saying, “come to our health fair.” You have to go into the public’s homes and put information in their hands.
-Mike Wallace, member of the AmeriCorps HIV/AIDS Team Detroit
If it’s not safe for all students, you never know when it’s not going to be safe for any of them.
-Bob Higgins, safe schools consultant for the Michigan Department of Education
When you’re young nothing affects you. You think, “I’m not going to catch this,” “I can go outside without a coat and not get cold.” Education, education, education. Let them know it’s out there. Don’t hide it.
-Brian Malkowski, longtime volunteer, AIDS Partnership Michigan
There are young people demanding their rights because they think it shouldn’t be any other way. When I was growing up it was quite different.
-William Sawyer-Todd, chair of the Lansing Human Rights Political Action Committee
LGBTQ students get overlooked in terms of programming and support. It’s not as obvious they’re in a minority. Often those students have a different set of issues they’re dealing with. It’s important to provide them with those resources so they can focus on their studies and be comfortable with who they are.
-Alli Sheppard, LGBTQ coordinator at U-M Dearborn
There are some problems in comparing support of LGBT rights to the civil rights movement, but there are some similarities. Then, it wasn’t just black people or people of different races asking for equal rights, it was white people too. That’s what made it successful – for everybody to want it.
-Jessica L. Best, intern at the U-M Spectrum Center
It is essential for organizations in the LGBT community to remember that our allies are an integral part of our “family.” It is important that organizations such as PFLAG offer support, advocacy and education to our allies.
-Terri Dinsmore, president of the PFLAG chapter in Genesee County
I hope that whatever I’m doing, I’m involved with some kind of LGBT activism. I want to find innovative and effective ways to educate and influence people about LGBT rights with my writing.
-Lucy Hough, BTL intern
I have friends who are positive, some for over 20 years, and others more recently diagnosed. All of them mean a great deal to me and I want to do anything that I can so that anyone who is living with HIV/AIDS can have a better quality of life.
-Phil Williams, an active member of Higher Ground, which serves Michigan’s HIV-positive community through support groups, health and healing classes, retreats and fundraising efforts
I don’t look at the work I do with the Lapeer County Equal Rights Alliance as harder because of the conservative area I’m in, I look at it as more important to try and make the GLBT community visible in this area.
-Gale Cook, founding member and current co-chair of the Lapeer County Equal Rights Alliance
The only cure I can think of for ignorance and intolerance is education.
-Benjamin Jenkins, president of U-M Dearborn’s GSA and BTL editorial assistant
Even among the most educated, misconceptions and misinformation about LGBT people are true dangers to professional practice.
-Daniel Cuschieri, intern at Affirmations
We challenge and support students, pushing them toward finding their most
authentic selves. Even in today’s world, this is a radical idea!
-Gabe Javier, who works for the U-M Spectrum center