Sunday, June 25, 2017

Anchorage Pridefest 3: People I Met

What a difference a year makes.

I met Chris Constant last year at Pridefest.  I'd heard his name and vice versa, but we'd never met.  He had a booth as part of his campaign to be on the Municipal Assembly for downtown Anchorage.  Here are some more pictures from last year's fest.

One thing he told me last year, was he was hoping to be the first openly gay Assembly member.  He's pictured here with his mom.

He did get elected to the Assembly (our city council).  But is he the first openly gay Assembly member?  Sort of, but Felix Rivera, another openly gay candidate was also elected, so they are the first two.  When I asked him how things have been so far, he told me that there have been about 100 votes since he was sworn in.  And he and Amy (Demboski who is also on the Assembly and ran for Mayor with a very anti-gay platform) have voted the same except for three times.  But, he added, he also has voted differently from most of his more liberal colleagues about three times as well.

Another reminder that the media's focus on conflict means we think there's a lot more conflict and less cooperation than there really is.  It is easier, and more necessary, for the Assembly members to get along with each other.  There are only eleven members and the meet all year.  They have to find a way to do more than just make nice.

And here's Felix with Elvi Gray-Jackson, the long time assembly member he replaced.

This young man agreed to a picture.  I don't think I got his name, it's not written down in my notes and it was before a got a pen from Konrad at the Alaska Club booth.

But I got this picture of two more rainbow beards later and these are Thomas and Keith.

Here's my friend Kokayi with a friend of his whose name I didn't catch.

And here are some friends from University of Alaska days.

Travis (on the left) is a friend I know from Citizens Climate Lobby and he's in charge of community outreach at St. Mary's.  And to mess with people's stereotypes, he's also a  BP engineer.

And finally, for this post, we have Mary Jo Torgeson, Anchorage's library director.  I'd never met her before and we had a great discussion on a variety of library related topics, but I'll focus on the renovation.  First, why is it so late?  Well, the as-builts weren't accurate and the found things - like pipes of a different size - that caused a lot of delays.  Second, some wanted to close the library during some of the construction which would have sped things up, but keeping it open was the decision.  I don't know how long it would have been closed, but it's been under construction for over a year now and I think I'd prefer it open even if that meant it took longer.  Here's the first post I did on the renovation - back in February 2016.

But the news is they're planning an opening on July 17.  Though there still we be more internal work to finish up even then.

Here's a link to Anchorage Pridefest 1:  The Parade.
Here's a link to Anchorage Pridefest 2:  Businesses with Pridefest Booths


  1. I know how old civil rights activists must have felt with 'victory' now. The list of businesses you tick off is a list of sorrow (and sometimes anger) for me. So many which were deaf, indifferent or hostile to helping us in the past. It just wasn't good 'business'.

    I'm part of the past in Alaska in so many ways. Even as I write this, I think how 'coded' my language here is to avoid bringing things up many would only hear as 'raining on their parade'. But that past did exist; many of the front-line corporations now were unhelpful (putting it mildly) and all make nice as its profitable now to open markets, with laws providing cover -- ahem -- protections for being open.

    That's why civil rights law matters, folks. We miss that point when we go on and on about the intended beneficiary -- the protected class. It's also about making it safe(r) for our allies to be open about who they support. Anchorage is changing because it is legally welcoming.

    Such is the business cycle, isn't it? And better that than being forever served but never seen.

    To me, Pride was and still is about that first time a new kid or anyone shows up and sees they aren't alone -- that powerful, overwhelming access to hope in being part of a world that is now seen and felt.

    Pride still has place, as Eugene and I will be joining a first-time ever Pride Parade in what will become our last community of choice this July. 40 years after Anchorage, the town of Ryde (Isle of Wight) will have its Pride Parade.

    It's a place many Brits jokingly say is '40 years behind the times'. This is its proof, and it will be good to be there, once more, in Pride.

  2. Jacob, you and Eugene did much of the hard lifting that got us to this point. At least you were the one visible to rest of Anchorage. And at Out North you made lgbt folks and ideas visible to everyone else. It's not fair that you had to struggle so hard, but you laid a lot of the ground work. Thank you.

  3. Hey, don't forget the positive points!

    Love to everyone back in the old country and yes, some warriors don't carry arms for the cause. Some of us fight the good fight using only our wits and charm! (smile)


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