Why Community Media, and Why Now

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Black Lives Matter march, photo from Wiki Commons. Black Lives Matter march, photo from Wiki Commons.
Every once in a while, the staff and I like to do a little self-reflection; we take stock of the work we’ve done and the work we’d like to do, the subjects we’ve covered and the ones still on the horizon, waiting for us to tackle them. Some of us work other jobs—lovingly referred to as our “day jobsâ€â€”and we remain committed to community media for the sheer love of the work. On the regular, I am asked why I continue in the business when I have another full-time job, and so are many of my colleagues. In short, here’s why: Shade Schuler, the 13th known and reported transgender homicide victim in the United States. (There were 12 known trans murders in the whole of 2014.) This year, 11 of those victims have been women of color—including Schuler, who was black—according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Schuler’s body was so severely decomposed when it turned up in a vacant field along Riverside Boulevard in Dallas, police had difficulty identifying her and even determining her race. Schuler was found dead on July 29, clad in a blue and white tube top, blue shorts, a black wig and pink press-on nails with diamond studs. We work and we write because violence against the trans community is an epidemic, and we must tell trans stories with an urgency; we must keep their lives at the forefront of every conversation. On page 6, Leela Ginelle talks to some folks from the Black Lives Matter movement. Adrienne Cabouet talks about what it’s like living as a person of color here in Portland, and it would behoove everyone to read her words with an open, earnest heart. Cabouet discusses routine, everyday harassment, how she’s had the police called on her in her own home, how she’ s routinely asked how many children she has, how she’s had her hair and body touched so often on the bus she no longer asks people to stop. She describes being followed by employees during a visit to a Lloyd Center makeup counter, and she reported the incident to a manager—who tried to convince her the employees were “just being friendly.†Cabouet says she would have welcomed a person speaking up on her behalf, for instance, during any on the incidents she described above. "I would appreciate the back up," she says. "People don't listen to me. People make you feel crazy when you speak up as a person of color, because they don't believe you.†We have many more of these conversations forthcoming; we will be talking to more activists from the movement, and we are committed to telling these stories whenever we can. Because we have to; they are vital and important. We’ve recently partnered with the Bi Brigade, in an effort to help minimize bi erasure in our community. This new column will inform the local queer community about upcoming bi+ specific events and resources for bi+ people. It will engage readers by answering questions, offering advice, and featuring individuals of all identities who have benefited from connecting with Portland's in-person bi+ community. Furthermore, it will work to educate the overall queer community by debunking myths and clearing up misconceptions about bisexuality. Bi Brigade works to eradicate biphobia and prejudice against bisexuals in all local LGBTQ spaces and conversations to ensure that Portland's queer community is safe, inclusive, and welcoming to everybody. This is important work, and it is at the heart of our mantra: Every Letter and Every Color, represented. I could go on and on and write ten thousand words about why community media is vital, but I will let this print issue speak for itself. In it we talk about Stonewall, Latino Gay Pride, a new queer coffeehouse called Triumph; we have compelling columns and community news from the dedicated folks at GLAPN. Queer Intersections, our cover story, will make you think. The National Equality Publishers Association recently elected their board; Melanie Davis, our publisher, and Jerry Cunningham, publisher of Colorado’s Out Front, will share the title of President. “Our job is to educate, to inspire, to grow and evolve LGBT media,†Davis says. Our staff takes that mission quite seriously. In her excellent column, “The Danger of Being Nice,†Sossity Chiricuzio writes: “’I'm not a nice lesbian. I’m a loud freaky outlaw.’ They’d often reply ‘But you are nice!’ and that's true. Generally speaking, if it doesn't cost too much, I am nice. There's a danger, there, though. A danger that women and people of color and poor people and queer and trans folks know all too well. We're supposed to be nice, and quiet, and emulating the mainstream, and not causing trouble. If we aren't those things, sometimes even if we are, we can be beaten or used up or killed.†Let’s all be outlaws—and proud queers—together. --Daniel Borgen