PQ Monthly News Briefs – August 2013

AIDS activist Sean Sasser (left), seen here with former Portland Mayor Sam Adam and Sasser’s partner Michael Kaplan at AIDS Walk 2012, died Aug. 7. Photo by Byron Beck.
AIDS activist Sean Sasser (left), seen here with former Portland Mayor Sam Adam and Sasser’s partner Michael Kaplan at AIDS Walk 2012, died Aug. 7. Photo by Byron Beck.

By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly


Sean Sasser, an AIDS activist and one-time Portlander who appeared on “Real World: San Francisco,” is dead at 44. The HIV-positive pastry chef died Aug. 7 after a brief but difficult battle with mesothelioma, according to his partner Michael Kaplan, executive director of D.C.-based AIDS United and former head of Portland’s Cascade AIDS Project. Sasser is more widely remembered as the one-time partner of Pedro Zamora, the “Real World: San Francisco” (1994) participant who, with Sasser, gave groundbreaking media visibility to gay men of color living with HIV. A remembrance of life was held Aug. 8 at Terry Schrunk Plaza.

A flier recently found in a number of Portland neighborhoods appears to target people with disabilities. The message from a “neighbor” identified only as “Artemis of the wild” claims that some registered voters in the community are receiving Social Security income by pretending to have disabilities and accuses them of standing in the way of democracy (ostensibly because their votes have been bought with disability payments). The note’s author says they will post the names of everyone in the neighborhood receiving Social Security so taxpayers can decide for themselves who is “truly” disabled. According to the Portland Commission of Disabilities, the flier has been in the following neighborhoods: Irvington, Arbor Lodge, SW Hills, Laurelhurst, and Eliot. The commission is asking anyone with more information or who sees the fliers, to report it to patrick.philpott@portlandoregon.gov.

Tobin Britton, president of Blackout Leather Productions and Boys/Boiys In Leather Service – Rose City, has received the Pantheon of Leather 2013 Northwest Regional Award. Britton is active in the local queer and leather communities and is a former Ms. Oregon State Leather (2001) and American Leatherwoman (2002). The international award went to the president of South African Leather Eastern Cape, David Hessey, who is also president of the Eastern Cape Gay and Lesbian Association, PEBears, and WithOUT Prejudice and the co-founder of the Hessey-Muller Foundation for battered men, women, and children. For the full list of awardees, visit theleatherjournal.com.

Aug. 24 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for civil rights. Local social justice organizations are honoring the spirit of that historic march by taking to the streets to raise awareness about the unresolved issues the 1963 demonstration raised, including jobs, police brutality, housing, health care, and equality. The Portland rally and march are sponsored by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice & Police Reform, Urban League of Portland, NAACP of Portland, ACLU of Portland, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and several labor and other community-based organizations. The rally (including speakers and music) begins in South Waterfront Park at 1 p.m. Commemorative events and demonstrations are scheduled to take place across the country, including in Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama plans to deliver a speech.

Despite attempts by the opposition to hold up approval of the amendment language, the campaign by Oregon United for Marriageto put marriage equality on the Oregon 2014 ballot is building momentum. The campaign, which must collect 116,284 signatures from registered voters by next July to qualify the ballot, had gathered more than 42,000 by Aug. 6, surpassing early goals to collect 10,000 in the first 10 days.

Oregon United for Marriage will host a Portland Area Garden Party on Aug. 25 in Sherwood, featuring Secretary of State Kate Brown and Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director Jeana Frazzini, focused on sharing information about campaigns for trans-inclusive health care, racial justice, and expanding support for the freedom to marry. The garden parties are a statewide effort. To learn more about the campaign and events outside of Portland, visit oregonunitedformarriage.organd follow PQ’s continuing coverage on our blog.

The Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition hosts a Welcoming Schools Workshop Aug. 26 at Portland State University’s Graduate School of Education. The workshop will offer a comprehensive approach to embracing diversity, avoiding stereotyping, and stopping bullying, and is targeted toward educators and agencies working with preschool- and elementary-age children. For more information or to register, visit welcomingschools.com/Oregon.

SAGE Metro Portland (formerly Gay & Grey) will host a daylong Summit on Aging for the LGBT Community Sept. 13 at Friendly House addressing many of the complex challenges faced by LGBTQ older adults, such as limited access to safe and supportive housing, isolation, unequal partner benefits, decreased family support, and barriers to accessing services. The summit will include workshops on physical and mental health and the particular health and legal challenges facing transgender elders, among other topics, as well as a panel and evening social. The summit seeks to spark discussions between service providers and community members to share best practices and come up with new ideas. For more information or to register, contact sage@friendlyhouseinc.org.


The potential impact of Russia’s law banning “gay propaganda” on the 2013 Winter Olympics in Sochi is still unclear as activist, athletic, and governmental organizations take divergent approaches to addressing the situation. One faction is calling for a boycott of Russian vodka, while others argue that such a boycott (especially if focused on Latvian-produced Stoli) is misguided. Some groups are pushing for the Olympics to be moved to Vancouver, while others suggest ways to take advantage of the spotlight the games will bring to Russia and its anti-LGBTQ laws. Yet others are calling for boycotts of other businesses who deal with Russia, including Coca-Cola and Boeing. How are you responding? Share your thoughts in the comments section or send a letter to info@pqmonthly.com.

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