by Jessica Carreras
Jim Larkin is a Holland-based freelance writer. But more than writing for a living, Larkin uses his craft to promote local events, and as a result of his work, the Genesee County Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays will be honoring him with their “Friend of the Year” award at their Dec. 13 meeting.
1) How do you use your work as a writer to promote LGBT causes?
I try to keep the issues facing the LGBT community in the news so pressure can be brought on those in power to do something about them. I also try to educate people, both those inside and outside our community, about issues so we can do something about them. That includes me. Reporting helps me understand the many facets of the LGBT community better. It always amuses me when people generalize about gay people, as if we are one-size-fits-all. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are very different in our likes, dislikes, spirituality, interests, etc. That’s what makes reporting on us so interesting.
2) Why do you think it’s important to tell LGBT news?
It’s vitally important that we unite to promote LGBT causes and I can’t think of a better way to do that than keep LGBT news in the forefront so it cannot be brushed under the political rug. That’s especially true in Michigan, where we sorely need legislation to provide stricter penalties for hate crimes and to overturn the voter-approved ban on gay marriage and the resulting state Supreme Court decision that even further eroded our rights. I love Michigan and consider it one of the most beautiful states in the country, but those decisions made me embarrassed to call it home.
3) Genesee County PFLAG is honoring you next month as its “Friend of the Year.” What does that honor entail?
The award, as I understand it, is presented every year to the one person that PFLAG judges to have best helped it. I’ve won many awards through the years but those were for my writing talent, not for whether that talent had accomplished anything. That’s why this award means more to me. If I can help an organization like PFLAG, which does so much good work and is such a needed resource in the community, to the extent that they consider it noteworthy, I consider it a great honor.
4) As someone who covers LGBT happenings in the Flint area, how do you think our issues are doing in that city?
Flint, actually, is surprisingly progressive for an automobile town. It was one of the initial cities in the state to prohibit discrimination against gay people and its leaders tend to support our causes. I think the Out ‘N About series proved that and was a great way to show the community at large the talents of gay people, while also promoting understanding. However, the further you go outside the city, which is heavily Democratic, and into the suburbs, the more homophobia you see. We need to break down some of those walls. I’m not sure how, outside of educating and promoting our issues and keeping them in the minds of suburbanites, but it must be done.
5) Why is the work PFLAG does important to you?
I wish there would have been an organization like PFLAG around when I was young – someplace you could go to for support and understanding and to just realize you are not alone. I wish I could have referred my parents and family to them … it would have made the coming out process so much easier (although there is certainly nothing easy about coming out). I think the work they do is tremendous, in not only providing support for gay people but also in educating the community. They fill a huge void in the community.
To learn more about the Genesee County PFLAG, visit http://www.geneseefun.com/org/detail/1667.