Sarah Bell has a deep passion for the nonprofit sector and has spent many years working in development and fundraising with local nonprofits in Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in both Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies, with a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Upon graduating, she has worked and volunteered with the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, the Humane Society of Utah, the Rape Recovery Center, American Cancer Society, and Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault board of directors and has worked in inventory management and accounting part-time with a local bookstore for the past eight years. She worked with Equality Utah in 2017 and is glad to be back with the team.
Susana Williams Keeshin is originally from La Paz, Bolivia and has spent the majority of her time in the U.S. living in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine in the division of Infectious Disease at the University of Utah. She cares for adult and pediatric patients living with HIV in Clinic 1a and at Primary Children’s Hospital. In 2018 she co-founded the PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) Community Clinic, which offers PrEP services, STI testing, and treatment free of charge for people without insurance. She works closely with many LGBTQ+ local and national organizations as a health expert to improve health care access and reduce health disparities.
She completed her B.S. in Biology, B.A. in Sociology and Spanish at the University of Utah, M.D. at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Residency at the University of Utah and Infectious Disease Fellowship at the University of Cincinnati.
Paul C. Burke is a shareholder, director, and the general counsel of Ray Quinney & Nebeker P.C. The Utah State Bar named him as the 2019 Lawyer of the Year and previously recognized him as the 2012 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year. Burke was also honored at the 2015 Utah Pride Festival as a “Utah Hero” for his public advocacy on behalf of Utah’s LGBT citizens.
Burke represented the Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah, and the Equality Federation at the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases resulting in the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act and California Proposition No. 8. His work defending the rights of an abused lesbian teenager was chronicled in both the book “Saving Alex” and a forthcoming Lifetime movie based on that title. Burke and his colleagues have been frequent contributors to the Salt Lake Tribune of columns on LGBT equality, and correctly predicted the arrival of marriage equality in Utah.
Burke was inducted into the Utah Youth Soccer Hall of Fame in 2016, having served as the president of the Utah Youth Soccer Association from 2003 to 2005 and as the Chairman of the Rules Committee for the U.S. Soccer Federation from 2006 to 2018.
A native Utahn, Burke was raised in Salt Lake City and graduated from Judge Memorial High School. He attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts and Mansfield College at Oxford University. He is a graduate of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah.
Joshua Davidson is an accomplished attorney with extensive experience in federal and state trial and appellate courts. He presently serves as Assistant Solicitor General for Civil Appeals in the Utah Attorney General’s Office and as Chair-elect of the Utah State Bar’s Appellate Practice Section. Josh returned to Utah after living in Chicago, Illinois for 24 years. There, he worked in a boutique litigation firm, focusing on governmental, commercial, and consumer financial services litigation and counseling, and as a constitutional and appellate attorney for the City of Chicago, where he defended constitutional challenges to the City’s human rights and gun registration ordinances.
Josh earned a bachelor’s degree in French from the University of Utah and a Juris Doctor from Northwestern University School of Law. He is admitted to the State Bar of Illinois, New York, and Utah, and to the Bars of the Supreme Court of the United States and numerous federal appellate and district courts.
Josh lives in Salt Lake with his husband and partner of 20 years and their beautiful daughter. For fun, he participates in local politics, bakes (poorly), and binge-watches international TV shows. He is an avid skier and an enthusiastic U of U sports fan. Look for him on the slopes or in the nosebleed seats at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
As co-founder and CEO of Method Communications, David Parkinson has built one of the fastest-growing tech PR and marketing agencies in the country with offices in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and New York City. In addition to spearheading the growth and expansion of Method, David provides strategic direction for many of Method’s clients.
Prior to launching Method, David served for eight years as the vice president of communications for the billionaire Sorenson family and their 30-plus companies, where he orchestrated several successful public relations campaigns for new companies, product launches and company acquisitions. Prior to Sorenson, David worked in Silicon Valley and held positions at Keynote Systems, Adobe, and Edelman Public Relations Worldwide.
David has received a number of awards for his leadership. He was named by Utah Business Magazine as a “40 Under 40” in 2008 and “CEO of the Year” in 2015, and a 2016 finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award program. David holds a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Austin Miles has lived in Utah for nine years, moving from California when he was ten. He has always had a passion for communications, marketing, and design. Because of these interests he became a self taught graphic designer, doing contract work for several companies including New Charter University, JBB Equity, and Letter23 Creative. Equality Utah is his first move to the non-profit sector, where he applies his skills as the Programs and Communications Coordinator. He serves as the resident on-call graphic designer, social media manager, and “passive aggressive emailer” for the office. Austin is currently pursuing a degree in Communications at the University of Utah. When he’s not working you can find him playing with is dog Seeley, avoiding social interaction, or catching up on all the latest shows on Hulu.
GAY LITTLE GRAY
By Kayden Maxwell
Growing up in American Fork, the only minority group less represented than non-mormons were racial minorities. Classmates, teachers, friends, coworkers and politicians seemed to have the same and strict unwritten expectations: we were mormon, we were white and we were straight.
I attended my first Affirmation Conference in 2014. That experience was life changing as I was inspired to no longer fear who I was allowing me to see more possible outcomes for my life. It was my first taste of empowerment. In addition to the support and unconditional love of my parents, I learned that no matter what I decided for my life I would always have a new and extended family that would care for me too.
Shortly after the conference, my english teacher assigned us to write about our biggest life struggle. My family and close friends knew I was gay. However, aside from my pretty face and slight gay mannerisms I did nothing to advertise my sexual orientation. I was terrified to take the irreversible step and set myself apart from the Utah County norm but I knew it was inevitable. So, I embraced my vulnerability and wrote. Then I stood with shaking hands and in a quivering voice I delivered words to my classmates describing how little I fit into the mold of our culture.
Initially, the outpouring of love from my peers was overwhelming. As I got further from the "ideal" mormon guy I became frowned upon. Comments like "you're just going through a hard time," and "Jesus is waiting for you to come back," became daily assaults. Acknowledging my differences in that environment cost me dearly. But the benefits I gained from becoming a sincere, authentic and interesting person are infinitely worth it.
So then, who am I? In relation to religion and sexual orientation, my two greatest conflicting forces, I am a shade of gray between both. While I am no longer LDS, I value family, spirituality, love and forgiveness. And while I don't fancy gay clubs or certain apps, I look forward to falling in love.
I was most powerless when I stopped believing in my potential. I allowed the norms of my culture to tell me I didn't belong or have worth and my greatest mistake is that I ever believed them. Embrace your differences. Hold tight to the pieces of yourself that don't fit in this black and white world. Because the world needs more gay little grays.
Affirmation is an organization to support LGBTQ Mormons, families and friends. https://affirmation.org
Susan Ann Robbins (Sue)
Sue Robbins is a woman who is Transgender, Pansexual, and Intersex and uses the pronouns She, Her, and Hers. She is currently serving as Chair of Transgender Education Advocates (TEA) of Utah, having been with this organization since 2016, and also serves on Equality Utah’s Transgender Advisory Council. She is a Past Chair of the Utah Pride Center, holding that position for two of the almost four years she served on the Board of Directors and is a founding member and inaugural President of Phi Delta, Utah’s chapter of Tri-Ess. Sue has been recognized with the 2018 Transgender Advocacy TEAM Award and the 2019 Dr Kristen Reis Community Service award.
Sue is an Electrical Engineer currently employed with a government contractor. She is a proud veteran with 20 years of service in the US Army working first as a Tank Crewmember and later in Satellite Communications. Sue lives in Woods Cross with her loving and amazing wife Theresa and has four children and 10 grandchildren.
Candice Metzler, MS, CSW
Candice is a doctoral candidate from the University of Utah and expects to complete her degree in the spring of 2019. Her doctoral research examines the role of language in clinical practice with gender nonconforming clients. Candice is a therapist and sees clients through the Utah Pride Center and University of Utah Bridge Training Clinic. She has more than 6 years’ experience working with LGBTQI populations and primarily works with transgender and gender nonconforming youth and young adults. She is the Executive Director of Transgender Education Advocates (TEA) of Utah. She is also a member of the Reconciliation and Growth Project and serves on the Leadership Committee for the LGBTQ Affirmative Psychotherapist Guild. Candice served as a volunteer trainer through the Department of Justice where she conducted trainings with Utah law enforcement from 2013 to 2016. She has worked with many local, state, and federal organizations providing education, consultation, and trainings, which continues to date.
Lucas Fowler is a 41 year old activist, and a proud trans man. He has raised two sons, and is now helping raise his granddaughter. His activism began with politics, but eventually shifted to concentrate on queer and trans issues. He has served on the steering committee for the Utah Pride Festival, and currently serves on the board of Transgender Education Advocates (TEA) of Utah.
Neca attended BYU and Princeton, where she earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. She and her husband, David Moore, are parents of three sons. Her middle child, Grayson Moore, is transgender. Since Grayson transitioned (in 2011) at age 16, he and Neca have been actively working to extend legal protections in Utah to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Neca is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She and her husband own a small engineering consulting firm. Neca is past-president of the Mama Dragons, and currently serves on the board of Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families, and Friends.
Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the core principle of our civil rights laws—that businesses open to the public must be open to all, and cannot discriminate against same-sex couples. Although the Court ruled in favor of the cakeshop, the Court affirmed that “gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated . . . as inferior in dignity and worth,” and that religious objections “do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services.”
The Court’s ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop was based on concerns unique to the case: that the Colorado Commission on Civil Rights displayed “hostility” by calling the baker’s religious beliefs “despicable.” In ruling for the baker, the Court reminded us that “these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
In response to the Court’s ruling, Executive Director Troy Williams said: “For more than fifty years Americans have agreed that a person should not be fired, evicted or denied goods and services because of who they are. Today’s decision affirms these principles in that LGBTQ couples are to be afforded dignity and worth in society and in the law.”
“Although our country is increasingly divided, we continue to believe that Utahns are people of kindness and goodwill. This decision does not turn back the clock on equality, we will continue to advocate for the equal treatment of LGBTQ people.”
“Now more than ever, we need comprehensive federal and state nondiscrimination laws that protect all Americans. Utah has established a standard of ‘Fairness for All.’ Equality Utah looks forward to working again with the Utah Legislature to pass a comprehensive public accommodations law in 2019.”
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About Equality Utah
Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org
“LGBTQ Legacy” is a series of Equality Utah posts celebrating influential lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals who have gone before us. Each post focuses on a particular person and reflects upon the ways we can honor their memory.
Lucy Hicks Anderson (1886–1954) was a chef, a hostess, and a transgender woman before the word transgender was first coined. From her very earliest years in Kentucky, Lucy identified as a girl, telling her parents (who had named her Tobias) that she wasn’t a boy and that she wanted to go by the name Lucy and wear dresses to school. The family’s doctor advised her parents to respect Lucy’s wishes, and so, as she grew up, Lucy was recognized as a woman by everyone in her life.
She married her first husband, Clarence Hicks, in 1920. In 1929, Lucy and Clarence got a divorce. Later, in 1944, she married her second husband, Reuben Anderson. Lucy was well-known in her community of Oxnard, California. She was a fixture of the local social scene as a chef and as a purveyor of liquor during the Prohibition Era. She also ran a boarding house that doubled as a brothel, and it was this connection that eventually exposed her publicly as a transgender woman.
In 1945, she was convicted of perjury for identifying herself as a woman on her marriage license, making her one of the first transgender people in the United States to suffer legal consequences for her gender identity. And, later, she was convicted of fraud for receiving military benefits as the wife of a soldier and was sentenced to serve time in a federal prison. After her release, Lucy and her husband moved to Los Angeles and lived there quietly until her death, in 1954.
Although she didn’t set out to do so, Lucy Hicks Anderson became a pioneer for transgender people. Here are a few lessons we can learn from her experiences and courage:
1. Gender should not be defined by physical features. During her testimony at trial, Lucy summed up her defense as follows: “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman. I have lived, dressed, and acted just what I am: a woman.” Biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression are complex subjects, and a person’s identity can’t be reduced to just their physical traits. People like Lucy Hicks Anderson show that dividing everyone into two strict categories, based on what their bodies looked like at birth, is an imperfect way of understanding each other. People are wonderfully diverse and unique, and that diversity is something worth appreciating.
2. Laws can be used to target marginalized people and express prejudice. Even when laws aren’t designed to target LGBTQ people or other marginalized groups, they can still be used that way. The perjury and fraud charges that Lucy Hicks Anderson was convicted of, for example, weren’t created with transgender people in mind, but they were still used to shame and punish Lucy for her gender identity, setting a troubling legal precedent. Because of this possibility, it is important to pass nondiscrimination ordinances to give all people equal rights and protections under the law.
3. Transgender people are part of our history, even if we haven’t recognized them yet. Lucy Hicks Anderson lived the majority of her life without anyone knowing that she was assigned the biological sex of male at birth. Research led by LGBTQ people has uncovered the stories of other influential transgender people—like gospel singer Willmer “Little Ax” Broadnax, stagecoach driver Charley Parkhurst, and jazz musician Billy Tipton.
There’s no way to know now how many people, over the centuries, would now be called transgender. Those people would have lived their ordinary lives, done their work, loved their partners and spouses, and contributed to the world. We may wonder, though, who are the transgender men and women hiding in plain sight in our history books and family trees? While increased understanding of gender identity has led to greater awareness of transgender individuals in our present day, Lucy’s story shows that transgender people have been here all along.
At Equality Utah, we wish to honor Lucy Hicks Anderson and all the transgender pioneers who came before her or have followed in her footsteps.
What do you find most inspiring in the story of Lucy Hicks Anderson? And which other LGBTQ heroes would you like to see featured in Equality Utah’s future “LGBTQ Legacy” blog posts?
Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter (@EqualityUtah) or Facebook (facebook.com/EqualityUtah). Also, if you are ready to change issues affecting Utah’s LGBTQ community, get started by checking out our resource guide, attending one of our signature events, or by volunteering for Equality Utah!
Our families come in many forms, shapes, and sizes, but we can each be examples of how to be LGBTQ allies for children. Some families are already on their way, and that’s great. For others, perhaps this year is their first time taking notice of Pride Month. However, new allies could find that the hardest part about teaching our families to become allies may be that we are still figuring out how to be good LGBTQ allies ourselves.
June, as Pride Month, may be a good time to ask whether our younger kids are old enough to start learning about what it means to be inclusive. Schools today are teaching more about inclusivity, but, ultimately, parents can often become the best sources to help their kids understand and accept the broad spectrums of human sexuality and gender expression. Here are a few ideas to help your good example as an LGBTQ ally positively influence the children in your life:
1. Be an LGBTQ ally year-round. It’s easy to love the rainbow Snapchat filters and colorful parades Pride Month brings in June. But true allies show up even when it’s not time to celebrate. True allies build inclusive social circles organically, participate frequently in activism, and learn more about how to support the LGBTQ community. Living the message in these ways makes the importance of being an LGBTQ ally visible to children, even to little ones who can’t seem to find their own shoes or put them on the right feet yet.
2. Provide LGBTQ-friendly media at your house. Children are exposed to many formative ideas on TV and their iPhones, but parents and other role models can have a positive influence on kids by providing entertainment with inclusive values. Consider buying an LGBTQ-positive picture book for younger children (two of our favorites are And Tango Makes Three and The Family Book) or an LGBTQ-positive novel for teens. You could also select LGBTQ-positive shows, many of which are designed to be teen-appropriate. To provide LGBTQ-positive educational resources, check out websites like equalityutah.org, HRC.org, or healthychildren.org for the latest, most accessible information. Some parents may even consider it beneficial to have a list of LGBTQ-positive resources stuck to the fridge for children or teens who are interested in learning more but might not be ready to talk about these topics yet.
3. Create a safe environment to ask questions and have discussions. Making an effort to teach inclusive values is good, but children learn better in spaces where they feel heard too. Kids have their own opinions, ideas, and, yes, their own feelings about sexuality and gender identity. And so, by showing them that we care about and respect them and their thoughts and feelings, we can model the ally behaviors and inclusive attitudes we are trying to teach them to have also.
Many of us were never fortunate enough to have “the talk” include things like sex-positive attitudes or gender fluidity. Today we know the importance of these topics and have so many good opportunities to do better at teaching kids to be inclusive. For some of us, a good start might include putting on something fabulous and taking our youngsters down to the local Pride parade. Or, if there isn’t one in your community, maybe now is a great time to support starting one.
Are you ready to be a better example of an LGBTQ ally for kids in your community? If so, we can suggest some additional great places to start: check out our resource guide, attend one of our signature events, or think about volunteering for Equality Utah!
“Orlando Gunman Attacks Gay Nightclub, Leaving 50 Dead” was the headline I read on June 12, 2016, as a young trans girl about to embark on my coming out journey. In that very moment, I could have done what many young queer and trans people would have. I could have hidden deeper in the so-called “closet,” the metaphor used for the burden of shame we are put under socially, culturally, and politically. But I didn’t.
That was the moment I realized how powerful my existence is. That was the moment I realized the vigorous act of eradicating that burden of shame. Later that year, I showed up to my first queer prom in a twenty-five dollar dress my friends helped me pick out. I did this to eradicate that burden. I did it in the name of resilience. And I did it because the violence LGBTQ people experience only propels me to be louder and prouder.
We are not a community of hate; we condemn all aspects of it. Even though menacing weapons have been pointed at our heads in spaces that were supposed to be our sanctuaries, we stood in fortitude with our voices and love. The alternate route was an option: we could have reacted in anger, but we didn’t. Instead, the Pulse shooting pulled together the diverse and radiant ambiance of our community in a way that has made us immensely stronger. In that way, this event has made us feel love in its truest form, and the Pulse shooting is now one of the reasons I hold everyone in the LGBTQ+ community so close to me today.
Now, on the anniversary of the Pulse shooting, we must remember those who lost their lives and commit to continually come out during Pride month to unapologetically claim space for our authenticity. My being a fierce activist today is the reverberation of Marsha P. Johnson’s spirit and the lives that we lost during the Pulse shooting. Although many people still find it invasive when we transcend oppressive cultural barriers, we must still declare, We are here. We are queer. And no threat or attack will put us back into a state of fear.