OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, will host its Annual Gala: Fueling A State of Change on Nov. 22 where the organization will honor 5 community activists.
Each year, OutFront Minnesota honors community activists who work to advance LGBTQ equity in Minnesota with the Legacy Award, the Innovator Award, and the Visionary Award, and this year, the group has added the Courage Award.
Last week, OutFront announced the winners of those awards who were selected by soliciting feedback from the community.
The Legacy Award, Innovator Award and Visionary Award recognize the accomplishments of outstanding individuals who are advancing the movement for LGBTQ equity in Minnesota. This year, for the first time, OutFront is also honoring two young leaders with the Courage Award.
In addition to community awards, the gala will feature the “Emcees Danger Boat Productions — the clever creators of The Theater of Public Policy. The Star Tribune describes them as ‘…Minnesota’s answer to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert!’” Hip-hop artist The Lioness will perform, Foxy Tann will provide choreography, and DJ Shannon Blowtorch will host a dance party. The evening will also have a silent auction and “heavy appetizers.”
The Legacy Award, which honors winners for a long-term commitment to LGBTQ equity, will go to Andrea Jenkins. From OutFront:
Andrea has been a formidable leader in the LGBTQ movement. She worked for 10 years in various capacities at the University of Minnesota All Gender Health Seminars. She has also served as a board member for District 202, P-Fund and OutFront Minnesota. Andrea’s art and poetry exemplifies the beauty and depth of the LGBTQ community, and she has presented her work on their behalf for the past 15 years.
This year, Andrea created The City of Minneapolis Transgender Work Group, which looks at issues facing the trans community and makes policy recommendations to city government that will positively impact the lives of trans residents. The group, under Andrea’s leadership, worked with the Minneapolis City Council to pass a resolution, which encourages restaurants and bars to provide single user restrooms in a gender-neutral manner. This change creates a climate where transgender people are able to access restrooms without fear of harassment. In September, the Work Group also hosted the first Trans Equity Summit in Minneapolis to educate, empower and inspire the trans community as well as introduce folks to resources available with the City of Minneapolis, including jobs, boards and commissions.
Andrea is currently Board Chair of Intermedia Arts and works as a Senior Policy Aide for Minneapolis City Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden.
The Innovator Award, which honors the use of new and innovative strategies to organize and engage the LGBTQ communtiy, will go to Nathalie Crowley. OutFront Minnesota explains:
Nathalie Crowley is facilitator and co-founder of the Lake Superior Transgender Groups. She provides training and education to medical and mental health providers and other organizations concerning trans and LGBTQ issues, with a focus on providing accessible wellness care to trans individuals. Currently employed at the Program to Aid Victims of Sexual Assault in Duluth as the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program Coordinator, Nathalie has worked tirelessly to eliminate barriers to services, decrease isolation and create strong, sustainable communities for trans people in rural areas. She also educates members of the LGBTQ community about sexual violence, which is not often discussed. In addition, she has worked with organizations to provide information on transgender health, equality, sexual assault, homelessness, discrimination, access to education and basic human rights.
Routinely, Nathalie challenges domestic and sexual assault advocates to work with clients outside of the gender binary system, in which so many victim services are entrenched. She has worked diligently to improve the status and visibility of marginalized and underrepresented populations.
OutFront’s Visionary Award goes to community members that make a significant impact in helping OutFront advance its mission. This year, the award will go to Jae Bates. From OutFront:
Jae is an impressive student leader who began working with OutFront Minnesota last year as a member of the Youth Leadership Team. In this role, he led a workshop at the Youth Summit, which was held in March and attended by 400 Minnesota students. Jae also advocated for passage of the Safe & Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, including testifying before a senate committee about being bullied. For Jae, Racial slurs in middle school turned into anti-LGBTQ slurs in high school. As a result, Jae suffered from depression and self-harm until his family and school recognized how much the harassment was hurting him and the administration took action to change their bullying policies. During this time, Jae realized that some of his friends were in even greater pain than he was and he wanted to be there for them. He shares his story to support youth who are struggling. Now students and even parents come to him seeking advice and resources.
As an intern at OutFront this summer, Jae was dedicated to developing his skills as an organizer and movement builder. Currently a freshman in college in Washington, he has remained active. Jae is a bold advocate for the rights of trans student athletes and has received national and international acclaim for sharing his story.
For the first time, OutFront is awarding the Courage Award and two students will be the recipients this year:
Zeam Porter – Courage Award Winner
In September, Zeam Porter was the only student who spoke at the Minnesota State High School League meeting about the policy to support trans student athletes. Zeam, who identifies as trans, gender queer and uses the pronouns they, them, theirs, bravely spoke out in a room with more than 150 people, many of whom are anti-LGBTQ, conservative members of the opposition. Zeam’s powerful speech was covered in local and national press. This summer, Zeam was appointed to the School Safety Technical Assistance Council with Jake Ross and one other student.
Jake Ross – Courage Award Winner
In second grade, Jake was the target of repeated bullying. Two years ago, at the age of 10, he turned that pain into activism. He became one the strongest advocates for the Safe & Supportive Minnesota Schools Act. He testified in front of legislative committees in both the Minnesota House and Senate. Jake and his family held a fundraiser to support OutFront’s work for the bill; organized a community gathering with keynote speaker Senator Scott Dibble at their church; and collected over 500 petition signatures in support of the bill. On April 9, when Governor Dayton signed the Safe School bill into law, Jake shared his story with more than 1,000 supporters on the steps of the Capitol. Jake is currently a student member of the School Safety Technical Assistance Council, along with Zeam Porter and another student. Jake’s experiences with OutFront have inspired and empowered him to advocate for the equality of LGBTQ youth.