Choosing Alaska: Acceptance in non-profits and having a good attitude
We recently posted a letter from a graduate student asking for advice from openly-LGBT Alaskans. What is it like to be an out professional in Alaska?
Our readers responded, sharing their reasons for living in Alaska and their experiences as LGBT. We’re posting their stories in a new series called Choosing Alaska.
The second response was from Kris. (Read the first reply HERE.)
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So let’s be clear: I am not actually who you wanted to hear from. I am not a born and raised LGBTetc Alaskan who studied out of state and then returned. Who I am, is an open, out, proud LGBTetc individual who was raised in New England, studied in New York and then eventually moved to Alaska to live my life the way I chose.
My name is Kris and I am a 27 year old gender-queer individual who was born female-bodied and has chosen to make my life surrounded by other gender-queers, lesbians, dykes and whatever the heck else people want to call themselves. I have a wonderful partner and although we are still building our relationship and life together, she is for sure an amazing woman whom I am openly, 100% of the time, proud to be with.
I am a Victim Advocate and have and do work with several non-profits including the YWCA Anchorage, Covenant House Alaska and Standing Together Against Rape (STAR). I have a Masters level education and consider myself to be both a role model and advocate within the professional community here in Anchorage for equality and a focus on LGBTetc issues. I volunteer with various youth initiatives, donate time to conferences and other educational causes and make a general effort to put myself out there in a positive light for the communities I exist within.
So why Alaska? Really, the question is “why not?” Sure, it’s small here. Which is ironic given the size of the state, but what does that matter, really? It doesn’t matter how large or small a locales queer community is. What matters is what you make of it, the relationships you choose to cultivate and how you portray that community to the others which you exist in. Working in the non-profit sector I find that I am generally surrounded by queer-positive people. This, of course, is not always the case for people in other professions, so I do acknowledge the slant in my perspective.
If I came here with the mindset that this was another small town (New Hampshire is full of them, I am no stranger!) and I was bound to lead a life of internalized homophobia and guilt and shame, then that is exactly what would have happened. Instead, I sought out resources, organizations and like-minded, progressive individuals. I made no attempt at masking who I am or what I believe in and I never apologized for who I am.
I have a self-made attitude that exudes, “I’m here. This is who I am. This is what I bring to the table. How can we help each other?” Would this be what happened if I had gone back to the sleepy town I grew up in? You better believe it. And for awhile, it did. And without incident. I didn’t come to Alaska to run away from a small town’s LGBTetc’s hot mess. I came to Alaska, in part, to participate in that small town community, and this just happens to be who I am.
Another out, proud, educated professional in Alaska
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What is your experience of being LGBT in Alaska? Leave a comment below, or email us directly at Bent Alaska @ gmail .com (without the spaces), and we will include your response in a follow up post. And if you have another topic you’d like to see on Bent Alaska, please tell us about it!Tags: From Our Readers, mailbag, non-profits, work