Did you miss our Speak Easy forum? Read our guests’ essays here

With so much attention on the issue of same-sex marriage — and the continuing focus on Kim Davis — there are countless issues and perspectives among marginalized LGBT communities that seem to have gone unnoticed by the dominant culture and underreported in the mainstream media. Tuesday night, Speak Easy hosted a public discussion forum with the support of NLGJA, the association of LGBT journalists, to illuminate those long-running and ongoing priorities.

Sharing personal stories to illustrate some of those critical issues, five guests submitted commentaries to Speak Easy and agreed to speak at the forum. If you missed their stories in person, read their essays here. A comprehensive report on Tuesday night’s discussion will be published next week.

Phantazia Washington, from The Attic Youth Center’s Bryson Institute, where she trains support service staff who work with LGBT youth, spoke about her own experience with homelessness and the extraordinary number of homeless young people who identify as LGBT in Philadelphia (“Like marriage, justice for homeless LGBT youth is about love and commitment“).

Deja Lynn Alvarez, a trans advocate with queer Latino/Latina social justice group GALAEI and LGBT health and wellness organization Mazzoni Center, shared an emotional story about how her early traumatic experiences with Philadelphia police led her to the work she does as a liaison between the city’s LGBT community and the department (“Philly police making strides to protect and serve transgender community“).

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Dawn Munro, who serves on the boards of the LGBT Elder Initiative and PFLAG Philadelphia, wrote about issues of aging unique to the LGBT community (“Despite 50 years of LGB progress, aging transgender people face barriers to equality“) and shared stories on Tuesday night of her life as an activist.

John Bright, a religious studies Ph.D candidate at Temple University, and a member of Christ Church Preservation Trust, emphasized that LGBT folks need to seize the recent marriage equality victory as an example of moral leadership and to carry that forward into further fights for equality (“Moral power of LGBT community winning against religious opposition“).

Christian Hill, a health educator at Camden Area Health Education Center, wrote a very personal story about his struggle to overcome an abusive relationship (“Too many LGBT youth depend on abusive relationships for a home“).

Audience discussion focused on transgender visibility, helping marginalized LGBT youth find stability, correcting the underlying causes of marginalization rather than simply supporting a broken system, balancing right wing rhetoric with progressive religious voices, and instilling a greater awareness of history and progress in the younger generation.

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