Now that we have marriage equality everything is perfect for the LGBTQ community, and no more work needs to be done, right? Nope! Wrong answer. It turns out that making it legal for gays and lesbians to get married didn’t solve all the problems that people in the LGBTQ community face, so organizations that serve those communities are stepping up to the plate to fight the struggles that still persist.
Case in point: The PFund Foundation, a philanthropic organization that worked tirelessly toward attaining marriage equality in Minnesota, is shifting its focus toward underrepresented communities within the LGBTQ umbrella to address issues that have been ignored for far too long. This includes struggles in the trans, indigenous, and people of color communities.
At the 2015 Moxie Awards, which will be celebrated tonight, PFund will honor leaders from the LGBTQ community and unveil its new focus.
“After marriage equality, there’s been a questioning of 'Okay, what’s next?'" says Alfred Walking Bull, the communications manager for PFund. “Everyone had fought so long and hard; this has been a battle that’s gone on for decades. But there are still people in our own communities that are struggling to forge some leadership, to forge recognition for the work they are trying to do within the LGBT community.”
The Moxies have been around for about a decade. Previously, the two awards were titled “The Power of One” and the “Power of Philanthropy,” but have since been renamed. This year, "The Moxie Award for Inspiring Giving" will go to Bob Owens for the scholarship program he has run for years in memory of his partner, James T. Lerold. "The Community Leadership Award" this year goes to Xay Yang and Jason Jackson for their work organizing the first conference to serve indigenous queer people and queer people of color communities in the Upper Midwest.
The Queer Indigenous People of Color Conference (QIPOC) is the first of its kind in the region. Yang, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, and Jackson, who worked at the University’s GLBT office, organized the event. Their platform was about focusing on underrepresented communities of color within the larger LGBT spectrum.
Walking Bull attended the conference for a day. “It was really remarkable," he says. "When I was a student at the turn of the [millenium], it was hard enough to have a conference for LGBT students in general.” He found himself being asked to explain everything about his community to everyone else (he’s Sicangu Lakota). "[The conference] was an amazing space to have for queer people of color.” With over 300 in attendance, it addressed the intersectionality that different communities face.
In addition to the award for Yang and Jackson, Bob Owens will also be honored at the Moxies. Owens met his partner Lerold in the 1970s, and planned to get married in 2008 when the window was open for marriage in California. After a few stumbling blocks, however, that didn’t happen, and unfortunately Lerold died in 2009. To honor his partner, Owens set up a scholarship of $5,000 that goes to an outstanding LGBTQ or allied student leader each year.
IF YOU GO:
The Moxie Awards
5:30- 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 20