By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
This month’s cover models are a few of the local activists who comprise the vanguard of the LGBTQ movement. Together, they help make our community’s march toward justice and equality unstoppable. They may not be household names, but the work they do changes lives. Two of them — His Most Imperial Majesty Rose Emperor XXXIX Gina Valdez Kennaday Smith and Her Most Imperial Majesty Rose Empress LIV The Sassy Cassie Nova of the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court — will lead the 2013 Portland Pride Parade as Grand Marshalls.
To learn more about these hardworking activists, watch our blog.
LAURA CALVO, 56
Identity: Human, Latina, female, trans, pretty happy
Occupation: Residential and commercial property inspections; Democratic Party politics
Activism: Democratic National Committeewoman representing Oregon, Democratic Party of Oregon leadership team
She says: “Pride is being and living your true self without remorse, shame, or guilt. Pride is living respectfully while being part of the solution and not part of the problem. Pride is being at a point in life where you give more than you take — where you can actively and intentionally leave the world just a little bit better than you found it.”
DEVIN KIT CROSLAND, 26
Occupation: Web developer and computer science student
Activism: Coordinator for In a Bind, TransActive Education & Advocacy’s chest binder exchange program
He says: “Children and youth are often overlooked in the transgender community, despite their alarmingly high rates of suicide ideation. The work we do at TransActive saves lives and virtually nobody else is doing it. Pride means each of us as individuals living as the unique people we are, and all of us as a community recognizing and celebrating our shared humanity.”
LEILA HOFSTEIN, 29
Identity: Disco Butch
Occupation: Youth coordinator for Portland PFLAG Black Chapter; tattoo artist
Activism: Social justice work for queer youth of color in Portland, creating safe spaces, connecting communities, and providing resources.
She says: “Pride is about visibility first and foremost. It’s about speaking for the silent and being present for the invisible.”
JOHN KIM, 29
Occupation: Musician and computer machine programmer/operator
Activism: LGBTQ equality, youth education, safety and progressive public policy, political campaigns.
He says: “I would rather work towards solutions than complain about problems and believe that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice, liberty, and equality everywhere. Pride is a community celebration of individuality, and diversity.”
CASSIE NOVA, 34
Occupation: Loan processor for mortgages
Activism: Imperial Sovereign Rose Court, fundraising for the HIV Day Center, Our House of Portland, and the Trevor Project
He says: “Pride means community. There’s a saying: ‘You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends.’ I know a lot of people whose family has discarded them just because the fact they were gay. I have a very close set of friends whom I consider my family. I think Pride is that one time of year we get to band together and celebrate it with the world.”
GINA VALDEZ KENNADY SMITH, 49
Identity: A gay woman who loves to hang out with drag queens
Occupation: Owns a foster care home that supports adults with disabilities.
Activism: Imperial Sovereign Rose Court; fundraising for Esther’s Pantry, Our House, and other organizations
She says: “About 24 years ago I met a drag queen and she was going to do a show. She asked me to stay and that is where it all began. Pride is about togetherness, love, and awareness.”
ROB SMITH, 36
Identity: Gay male
Occupation: Assistant manager of Housing Services at Cascade AIDS Project
Activism: HIV/AIDS, social justice, civil rights, marriage equality
He says: “[Pride] is about being unafraid to be yourself, and in that process, helping others to understand that it’s ok for them to be themselves too. It’s also about standing up for ourselves and saying we deserve a place at the table.”