A personal note from a Bent Alaskan
by Mel Green, Bent Alaska coadministrator
By this time, four days after the accidental death of James Crump at the Anchorage Pride parade, some people must feel as if Bent Alaska is in a 24/7 crisis mode… and as if we are writing about nothing else, nothing that might take people’s minds off the sadness that so much of Anchorage’s LGBTQA community has been feeling these past few days.
That’s kind of what I’ve been thinking too. And so I thought it might be helpful to explain a little about what’s going on at Bent Alaska right now.
Along with it: peaceful images du jour.
Regular readers of Bent Alaska will know that E. Ross, who founded Bent Alaska in March 2008, single-handedly built it into one of the most important — if not the most important — source of news and information in LGBTQ Alaska. I was over at my own personal blog Henkimaa, sometimes writing about LGBTQ & other political stuff, but also writing about all kinds of other stuff: Bent is more focused. In particular, it’s focused on serving our community, as best it can. It’s not at all a “personal” blog.
E. asked me to come aboard last September, and as time has gone by I’ve done more and more, sometimes “walking point” & doing most of the work when E. has had other things that she had to pay attention to — last November, February, a big chunk of… what was it, May? But in early June I had a 10-day trip to Portland and then the big LGBT preconference and Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis — during which the only posting I was doing was about the conference, as required by my scholarship. When I got back to Anchorage, I was exhausted, so E. continued to do most of the work last week, too. But by last Saturday morning, I was feeling pretty energetic, & happy to head out to Pride Fest to take lots of pics.
And then what happened happened, just at the very moment that E. also needed to attend to other things.
All this by way of saying: We’re doing the best we can with the time & resources we have. One of my goals in going to Netroots was to get some advice on how to get more folks involved with Bent — more writers writing about more different kinds of stuff — but right now we only have a very small crew, & some of them are affected by the tragedy of last Saturday too.
We feel a responsibility to other parts of Alaska too, not just Anchorage. We want to know about & write about Fairbanks, Juneau, Palmer & Wasilla, Homer, Kenai, Barrow — you know that Barrow just had its first Pride event, right? — and we went to keep people informed about what’s going on in other parts of the world, too. And we also want to write about other things going on in Anchorage, too: stuff to give even people most affected by James’ loss something cheerful to think about, some relief from the grief. We know that that’s just as important for dealing with grief as counseling & spiritual support is.
But — shorthanded, y’know? And every post, even a simple events post, takes time. And I still have to do my day job.
And at this point, the very first priority for Bent is making sure that we’re doing all we can to support our community in its time of need. If you’re not in Anchorage, it’s important for you to understand that this really is hitting people very hard here; & that the tragedy of last Saturday also has some major ramifications for the health & wellbeing of our community. Anchorage might be the biggest city in Alaska, but it’s still a pretty small city. An event like this, during our most important annual celebration, causes not just ripples. It causes tsunamis. And first priority is for us to do the best damn job we can of taking care of ourselves & each other.
On the other hand, we’re now working behind the scenes to reorganize & reprioritize, so we can do our best to give all of LGBTQ Alaska what E. Ross has led you to expect since she founded this blog three years ago. And then some. So besides working to get more writers aboard, we’re also working to make sure we are up-to-date on our events calendar, and aren’t ignoring stories that are significant to our community.
Thanks for your patience. In the meantime, please continue to send your best wishes and prayers to those most affected by the events of last Saturday. We ask that you hold in your hearts and offer your loving support to James’ family, friends, and coworkers; Edie and her family; all the witnesses to his death; and the staff, board, and volunteers of Identity, Inc., and Alaska Pride.
And please do let all the people who are working so hard to help our community and its members restore our balance— Identity, the Psychological Services Center at UAA, UAA’s Health and Counseling Center, UAA’s Dean of Students Office, the Family at UAA, Elvi Gray-Jackson and Harriet Drummond and other members of the Anchorage Assembly, the Anchorage Fire and Police Departments, clergy people including pastors in our community like Rev. Sara Gavit (St. Mary’s Episcopal Church), Rev. Susan Halvor (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)), Rev. Drew Phoenix (The United Methodist Church), and Rev. Johnathan Jones (Church Life Alaska), and everyone else who is pitching in — know how much you appreciate their spirit of love, compassion, & care.
If you need some of that care for yourself, I think we’ve now got our Events calendar updated with all the actual events coming up that have to do with this project of healing — along with links to where you can get more info. Let us know if we’re missing anything by writing comments on this post.
Thanks. And may you have both clarity and peace.Alaska Pride, Identity, Inc., James L. Crump