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Local LGBTQ voices come to the Indy 

Queer & There

click to enlarge GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell

Now, more than ever, we have to be loud. With the inauguration of President Trump and the validation of an appallingly anti-LGBTQ Republican platform only weeks away, it is vital, urgent, that we don't just speak up. We have to shout.

I first pitched the idea for this column this past summer, months before we knew what kind of challenges our country would face. It was important to me then that the varied and vibrant voices of our local LGBTQ family reached a wider audience. At the time, it sounded like a nice idea — to challenge societal assumptions and raise the voices of LGBTQ people while highlighting some of the amazing things they do, especially locally.

Then everything changed in November. Our elected officials, and those who agree with them, now have permission to spit the kind of hateful rhetoric that inspires everything from casual prejudice to hate crimes. We have to spit back. We have to be as loud as those who want to silence us.

Indy founder and chair John Weiss showed support, saying that "we should have launched this, and our Inclusion Awards, 15 years ago — but so much better late than never." Still, it feels pretty timely to get our voices out there, especially now that we can see (in shades of brilliant red) what we're up against.

As an openly queer woman married to an openly queer woman, I am terrified of the culture of hate that our government now validates. It breaks my heart that, not only am I not alone in my fear, but that my own feelings probably pale in comparison to those of other minorities. I am healthy, white and cisgender (meaning my gender identity corresponds with the gender I was assigned at birth), with a good job and a family who loves me unconditionally. It is my responsibility, and the responsibility of every one of us with that privilege, to protect and support those who may not have it.

If you are not white, straight, cisgender, male and rich, you have no place in Trump's America, but you have a place in ours. We are on the side of every Muslim, black, disabled, immigrant, indigenous, Jewish, POC, poor and LGBTQ human being in this city, and we want your voices to be heard just as badly as you want to scream.

Our local LGBTQ community is more active than most folks realize. With monthly queer open mic nights, three gay bars, a fabulous youth center (Inside/Out Youth Services), the Equality Chamber of Commerce, PrideFest and multiple local LGBTQ organizations, we have a lot going on for a city of our size. The problem is that so often we congregate, perform for and commiserate with each other.

It's easy to stick to our own social circles, but it means so few non-LGBTQ people (even our staunchest allies) know the extent of the work queer people do in this city, the art we create or the accomplishments we achieve both personally and professionally.

Queer & There, a new, weekly column launching this week in the Indy, will offer us one small way to amplify our collective voice, to give the Colorado Springs LGBTQIA+ community a chance to say "we're here, we're queer and we're not going anywhere." This is our community, sure as it is anyone else's, and it is our country.

Keep an eye on this space for local LGBTQ news and perspectives, brought to you by local LGBTQ people: Heidi Beedle (32, she/her), lesbian transgender writer, musician and goat enthusiast; Rosa Byun (26, she/her), local lesbian artist; Peyton Kay Davis (25, they/them) queer writer, artist and printmaker; Ethan Wade (21, he/him), queer political advocate and student; and Nico Wilkinson (22, they/them), local non-binary spoken-word poet and community organizer. They will contribute their voices to our pages, along with myself (she/her), a 26-year-old lesbian writer and reporter here at the Indy.

As we share stories, artwork and poetry from our community, we will always be unapologetically who we are, and we will always give others the chance to do the same. That in itself is the greatest act of resistance.

Peyton kicks off Queer & There this week with a story of their time in basic training, where they fell in love with a woman and then drifted apart. This graphic narrative, originally published as Sincerely, — me for Mountain Fold Books' Zinefest last June, affected many of us at the Indy deeply. It seemed only appropriate to launch a column showcasing local queer stories with something so intrinsically personal, hauntingly beautiful and wholly unique.

Our stories make us who we are, and we are thrilled to share this one, with many more to come.

click to enlarge PEYTON KAY DAVIS
  • Peyton Kay Davis
click to enlarge PEYTON KAY DAVIS
  • Peyton Kay Davis
click to enlarge PEYTON KAY DAVIS
  • Peyton Kay Davis
click to enlarge PEYTON KAY DAVIS
  • Peyton Kay Davis
click to enlarge PEYTON KAY DAVIS
  • Peyton Kay Davis
click to enlarge PEYTON KAY DAVIS
  • Peyton Kay Davis

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