Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Way We Were Post

Producing the forum on a daily basis can take one in many directions. Each day as we get ready to see what info will "make the cut," it becomes a challenge to decide if there's a theme that will guide us or do we spin the big info wheel and let the chips fall where they may. Often if there's some breaking news or something that just jumps out at us, we go with it. Other day's we find ourselves going off on a tangent that didn't allow us much sleep the night previously, Ultimately, no matter how we achieve what we post, it is our vision to fill the gap of a local  LGBTQ news magazine or newspaper. In case you didn't know and most likely you don't, there have been other attempts to produce such an instrument. I was fortunate to edit The Advisor some 25 years ago and yes there were other efforts prior to that such as 1984's Arkansas Gay Writes, Triangle Rising in 1992 and 2006's Pink Triangle to name a few. Wow, what a history we have had that so many simply might not ever know. In celebration of my five decades of "living the life," COP 24/7 will highlight just far we've come in the political arena to AIDS then and now.

Politically Speaking
Trying to assess how many organizations have come into existence or organized within Arkansas' LGBTQ communities would be a daunting task and I'm not even sure if any archives actually has all of it. In my quest to list some of those groups now long gone, it seemed that there were more than I could even remember. Let's go down memory lane to get a snapshot of the range of groups that once existed to address issues in what was then known as the "gay and lesbian" community which has expanded to the current "LGBTQ" construct.  There was Arkansas Gay Rights which comprised of many local community members of which many were  not "out" publicly but were determined to be among the first local organizations that attempted to take a political stance by allying with then ACLU director Sandra Kurjiaka. During it's run, issues such as bar discrimination, Sodomy Law and assaults from the religious right plus dealing with the Arkansas Legislature were priorities. AGR was among the first local CBO's to have open ad's in the then Arkansas Gazette and recognized the seriousness of AIDS with called press conferences as well as partnership with other entities. A subsequent group, AGLTF was awarded $8,400 from the Arkansas Department of Health for peer counseling, creation of training videos and HIV/AIDS instruction modules. During its 1983 Gay Pride Banquet, AGR presented a" Gay Shame on YOU award to then, Gov. Bill Clinton for his lack of inaction on a proclamation for Gay Pride Week 1983. Clinton's Press Secretary Joan Roberts stated that "the Governor's office feels that the proclamation would not be of service to many people in the State of Arkansas." The groups went through turbulent times with intense struggles concerning inclusiveness, organizational direction and sustainability which resulted in its demise. Here's list of a few other groups that found life before flaming out:

1. Arkansas Gay and Lesbian Task Force
2.Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (affiliate)
3.Arkansas AIDS Advocacy Association
4. AIDS Outreach of Arkansas
5.Arkansas Human Rights Association
6. The Gay and Lesbian Switchboard
7. The Lesbian Network
8. Arkansas Association of People with AIDS
10. Brotha's and Sisthas
11. Women 's Coffeehouse
12. Arkansas AIDS Brigade
13. African American Women's Institute for Social Change ( sponsored by The Women's Project)
14. The League
15. Gay, Racially, Equal and Together Men
16. Positive Voices

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