alternative press serving the lower columbia pacific region

PFLAG Booth at the Astoria Bicentennial Fair Lend Your Voice!

Proudly, PFLAG Oregon North Coast , Astoria-based, will participate in the Bicentennial Heritage Fair on May 21, 2011 – joining in the celebration of the rich diversity this historic port city was built upon.

PFLAG, (Parents and Friends of the Lesbians, Gay, Bi, and Transgender People) is a national organization begun in the 70’s. Hundreds of  PFLAG groups exist now  across the nation, each state with a central organizing board and chapters serving their own regions through out.

PFLAG groups are volunteer and made up of people in their communities who love and support their gay and lesbian friends and family members, in addition to official representatives, such as clergy and councilors who work in the field of human dignity related issues. 2011 has marked a stellar year for a North Coast PFLAG. Over the course of the last five years the start up of a North Coast  chapter has had some stumbling blocks along the way, due mainly to the time and dedication, like any citizen-run volunteer group,  it takes to get a PFLAG rolling.

PFLAG ONC lead organizer Drew Herzig has found a great partner in the Astoria Arts & Cultural Exchange, a non-profit space dedicated to providing art and cultural workshops, art therapy, special events and exhibits for community members of all ages, levels of ability, and income.  PFLAG meets once a month at the Arts & Cultural Exchange – sponsoring guest speakers,  planning community out reach events, and providing a meeting ground for LGBT issues.

The PFLAG Booth at the Heritage Fair will be displaying “VOICES.” Currently they are reaching out to the Columbia Pacific/Astoria community for individuals to submit a brief contribution, (several lines) reflecting on the LGBT experience here in Astoria, as it has touched life, indirectly or directly.

Herzig states, “Whether your family has been in Astoria for generations, or you just moved here last week, you’ve got something to share. – And it doesn’t have to be upbeat. Bad times are as much a part of our experience as good times. – Just share a little bit of your self with the community. Speak your truth.”

The various “voices” will become part of a display. To make a contribution to this significant display contact:

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When I returned in the mid 90’s to live in my hometown of Astoria, I came home to a region that had responded in strong organization to the anti-gay initiatives that began challenging the values of Oregon voters in the early 90’s. Good Neighbors was a long list of coastal residents that banned together to bring awareness to these discrimination campaigns and measures (all failing to pass) that sought to make inequality into laws.

The North Coast Pride Network, representing the LGBT community had then sprung up from the Good Neighbors group and organizing around the initiatives. A monthly film night, a newsletter, distribution of Just Out (Portland’s bimonthly queer newspaper), potlucks, and queer community from the Washington Peninsula to Tillamook and Astoria; getting together, politically, socially, like family. It was the seed for a strong core of OUT and proud queers now present on these coastal shores.

Pride organizing in the region ebbs and flows. There have been gatherings of hundreds to celebrate and pay attention to the progression of rights and securities our government needs to grant us. We come together as a joyful minority, while we continue our independent integration in our rural coastal lives. A PFLAG booth at the Bicentennial Heritage Fair represents the tolerance, the brotherhood and sisterhood we can extend to all peoples of this region, and take pride in the integrated city Astoria has become.

There are no stories in history of immigration without pain, suffering, discrimination, as there are as many stories of courage, tenacity and love that helped to bridge differences to survive and come together as equals. I am proud to be a Finnish-Astorian LGBT member of this community, and citizen of this funky-amazing-place-in-history frontier town, and run this publication that represents the spirit that somehow got us all here in the first place.

Happy Birthday Astoria! Happy Birthday Astorians!!!!

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Dreams of Power

The contribution of LGBT individuals
to the history and culture of Astoria, Oregon

On June 15th, 1811, Ko-come-ne-pe-ca and her wife arrived in Astoria, bearing a letter addressed to John Stuart from Finan McDonald, a trader with the Northwest Company. This is the first recorded instance of an LGBT person playing a part in the history of Astoria – exactly 200 years ago!

Ko-come-ne-pe-ca was a Native American woman who had experienced a dream of power which prompted her to declare herself a man, living and dressing as one, and marrying another woman. In doing this, Ko-come-ne-pe-ca was following the Native American tradition of ‘two spirits’(directly translated from the Ojibwe term Niizh manidoowag) – the belief that a spirit of the opposite gender could reside in any individual, making that individual ‘two-spirited’.

The modern term would be ‘transgendered’.

Ko-come-ne-pe-ca and her wife provided valuable information to the early Astorians, giving them a detailed description of the territory to the north and east, and drawing maps of the region. This information was critical to the founding of another Pacific Fur Company trading house at Okanogan in Washington.

It is believed that Ko-come-ne-pe-ca and her wife belonged to the Kootenai tribe, and there are conflicting reports concerning their history after they traveled back to the east with David Stuart’s party.

In this sense, Ko-come-ne-pe-ca’s story is representative of so many LGBT individuals of the past who came to Astoria, or were born here. Their contributions to the history and culture of Astoria are still with us, but the details of their lives have often been lost.

Today, LGBT individuals are a vital part of the cultural and economic life of Astoria – entrepreneurs, business owners, artists, musicians, actors, publishers, historians, teachers, activists – the list could go on and on. The energy that such diversity brings to any open community is apparent everywhere one looks.

PFLAG’s booth in the Heritage Fair highlights what we know about the role of LGBT individuals in Astoria’s past with the hope that current Astoria residents will help us fill in the gaps between the early settlers and now. What we learn will form the basis for a research project into the contributions of LGBT individuals to Astoria, past and present.

PFLAG (Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has a three-fold mission – support, education, and advocacy. We constantly strive to educate ourselves and others about the depth and breadth of LGBT contributions to society. PFLAG is proud to represent the contribution of LGBT individuals to Astoria’s history and culture, as part of the Bicentennial Heritage Fair.

submitted: drew herzig

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Q-Community Events

Monday Night Q-Mix at the VooDoo Room.
The Voodoo Room located at 11th & Marine Dr.  in Astoria, hosts an LGBTQ Mixer the first Monday night of the month. Stop in, enjoy a slice of famous Voodoo pizza, relax and schmooze and be your big gay self! 6pm on.

Q-JAZZ coming in May
The Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria begins a new offering in May. Q-Jazz and Song Social invites the LGBTQ Community and friends the third Thursday of each month to enjoy the Basin St. Northwest Jazz Trio, complimentary apps, and piano bar hosted by friends and performance associates Dinah Urell and Walt Trumbull.

Arrive at 8pm for complimentary appetizers and to catch a sampling of piano trio led by Chuck Wilder, and featuring guitarist Dave Drury,  through 8:30. At 8:45, Dinah and Walt will sing it up and welcome you to bring in a standard tune and share your pipes and love for the American popular standard, jazz or blues.

“Think of it as a mixture of karaoke meets Mike Douglas. Songbooks will be available. Its all in the name of fun. And a beautiful spot to spend an evening of socializing and song,” says Urell.

Thursday, May 19th – PFLAG OREGON NORTH COAST meeting 6:30 pm, Arts & Cultural Exchange, 120 10th Street, Suite #2, Astoria Guest speakers: a panel of Astoria LGBT Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Everyone welcome! More info:

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