With so much in this country to be discouraged about, it was a breath of fresh air to gather together again for Free Speech. Folks piled into Wildfang West and used their hearts to listen and honor each other’s stories. The power of empathy is palpable when people start spilling stories, and our June F.S. was definitely one for the books.
Pride can mean so many different things. We are so proud of each and every person in the Wildfang family, and beyond. Our immense pride for the LGBTQIA+ community (and each other) doesn’t end just because June is over– it’s a 24/7 kinda thing, 365 damn days a year.
Tune in below to listen to five of our phenomenal storytellers as they share stories inspired by PRIDE.
1. JANE VOGEL: “WHY I WEEP FOR THE CHILDREN”
Jane is an actor, activist, and retired trauma psychologist. She played Fred’s mom on Portlandia and is the founder of Advance Gender Equity in the Arts (AGE). In 1974 she ran collegiate track. 25 years later her college awarded her the athletic letter because only male athletes were recognized in 1974. Too little too late. In 1976 she sued her employer for paying her less than half of what her male counterpart was paid, and she won.
Jane speaks on why empathic understanding of refugee emigration means listening to the back story.
2. ELIZABETH ENGLISH: “BEFORE”
Elizabeth English is a writer, artist, and activist from St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her time doing anti-imperialist community organizing, trying to read every book ever written, and taking far too many pictures of her cat.
Elizabeth speaks on how learning to live with PTSD can complicate Pride.
3. KALI THORNE LADD: “BROWN”
Khanh, a Certified Public Accountant, is a Tax Manager at NIKE, Inc. Vu graduated from Pennsylvania State University, where she also played rugby. In addition, she is also active in the LGBTQ community in which she sits on the board of GLSEN Oregon and co-coordinates the NIKE LGBTQ Youth Summit.
She shares a beautiful poem about gaining familial acceptance and how it does get better.
4. JESS COURTNEY: “PRIDE OR HIDE?”
Jess Courtney is a writer, performer, and lover of awkward moments. She loves the BBC crime shows, naps, and dark humor. Jess leads a writing group at Powell’s Books and is currently working on her memoir.
Jess shares about not knowing when she was safe to love her family?
5. REEMA ZAMAN: “THE ANTHEM WITHIN”
Reema Zaman is an award-winning author, speaker, actress, illustrator, and activist from Bangladesh, living in Oregon. She is Oregon Literary Arts Writer of Color Fellow, 2018 and her debut memoir will be published in January 2019 by Amberjack, and is available for pre-order. An avid runner and practicing Buddhist, Reema spends her days dismantling the patriarchy and raising the revolution, one book, essay, and speech at a time. www.reemazaman.com
This is a story of the path walked and battles fought, to realize, ultimately, we become the story we decide to believe in.
PHOTOS BY MADELEINE PHILBROOK
— STAY TUNED FOR MORE FREE SPEECH IN AUGUST WHERE WE WILL HEAR STORIES ON THE THEME CARPE DIEM.