Jeana’s Farewell: Thanks to You, Oregon Remains a Beacon of Hope

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By Jeana Frazzini

When I joined the board of Basic Rights Oregon in 2000, Oregon was ground zero for anti-LGBTQ attacks.

How times have changed.

Today, Oregon is rated the second most LGBTQ-friendly states in the nation because we won broad discrimination protections in the Oregon Equality Act, our schools are safer thanks to the Oregon Safe Schools Act, transgender Oregonians can access life-saving care through Medicaid, and LGBTQ youth no longer have to endure conversion therapy thanks to the Youth Mental Health Protection Act.

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As part of our statewide engagement, Basic Rights Oregon is working to create safe communities for transgender youth like Kira in every county in Oregon. 

So many people have been a part of making these victories happen. I give so much thanks to the activists who, more than twenty years ago, envisioned an organization that would serve as the first line of defense for LGBTQ Oregonians and proactively push for legal and lived equality. So much of what Basic Rights Oregon was fighting for then and now still fires me up, because it is a part of my own story.

I grew up in rural Ellensburg, Washington, a small town of about 20,000 people back then. While I grew up with a lot of privilege (Frazzini’s Pizza Place was a community hub), Ellensburg was not a place where I felt comfortable being open and I could not see myself raising a family there. Being LGBTQ was not celebrated or talked about.

I remember learning from my mom, decades after leaving, that one of my grade school classmate’s parents were in a committed lesbian relationship. No one ever mentioned this when I was young. I didn’t come to understand my own sexuality until Ellensburg was long behind me.

There have been positive changes in Ellensburg and in similar small towns and rural communities all over Oregon. But people who are LGBTQ still live in the shadows, afraid of losing their jobs, being bullied at school, or endangering their families. During the last year, Basic Rights’ statewide engagement program has taken us to communities like Dallas, where we witnessed the vitriol hurled at a transgender youth last fall. It was heartbreaking.

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Our staff is meeting with supporters throughout the state, including this group in Klamath Falls.

As I leave Basic Rights Oregon after 16 years, I am filled with so much hope when I see the important role it still plays in supporting these communities. People as far away as Umatilla county call us for guidance, training, or community education.

This year alone, we held transgender education workshops in Dallas, Pendleton, and Salem, and the response was amazing. Each one was packed, full of families, youth, and local leaders eager to learn together. LGBTQ Oregonians still look to us a reliable source of support, knowing that we’ll never let our phones go unanswered.

And, across the nation, Oregon remains a beacon of hope. That’s how I know this organization is on the right path. When I think about the two amazing women leading it—Nancy Haque, a first-generation American Muslim, and Amy Herzfeld, a native of Boise, Idaho—I know that they have an intimate understanding of our work in racial justice, engaging LGBTQ people in rural areas and small towns, and fighting for justice for LGBTQ immigrants and their families.

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Our racial and transgender justice programs uplift and center LGBTQ people who are often most marginalized in our society.

My confidence in Basic Rights Oregon is stronger than ever before.

And that’s why I want you to recommit your pledge to LGBTQ equality in my honor. Basic Rights Oregon is doing more critical work today than at any time in its 20-year history. The phones have not stopped ringing: transgender youth fighting for dignity and respect; folks who’ve been denied healthcare or a job; and communities, like Ellensburg or Dallas, calling in desperate need of support and guidance.

Your continued support—your money, your time, your skills—ensures that Basic Rights continues as the beacon of hope our founders envisioned.

Finally, this isn’t farewell, but goodbye for now. I look forward to seeing you at Ignite.

Love, Jeana

Jeana Frazzini served Basic Rights Oregon for 16 years–four years on the board of directors and 10 years on staff. She served as executive director beginning December 2007.  

2016-10-25T19:58:45+00:00 July 20th, 2016|Featured, News|13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Deborah Maria July 20, 2016 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Jeana, thank you for your leadership, your faithfulness to our causes, and your astounding success in the greater Portland area (and all of Oregon and beyond). Go in peace…live in safety and joy!

  2. Brenda Dixon-Smith, Ph.D July 20, 2016 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Thank you Jeana! you’ve done a tremendous job and it has been a pleasure to work with you. You have so impacted us personally — we are legally married, file joint tax returns, our lives are so much more open, andcthe response on the phone, and in person, to the use of “my wife” gets more positive every day. You helped Oregon lead the way to the rest of the country. Thank you. Brenda and Debbie Dixon-Smith

  3. Cecil Charles Prescod July 20, 2016 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Thank you Jeana for your work to create a more just society. I am grateful for all that you have done. You are a gem!

  4. Matt and Bruce July 20, 2016 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Jeanna, your vision, work, sense of community, respect for everyone, and your extraordinary heart have made all the difference in what we came to believe could –would! — be achieved. Thank you for your leadership, dedication and friendship!!

  5. Cristina July 20, 2016 at 11:00 am - Reply

    The best to you Jeana! As a mother of one LGBTQ person, I am grateful for the work you have done for them.
    Cristina Castro. (God bless you)

    • liz todd July 21, 2016 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      ditto to these posts

  6. Rosemary July 20, 2016 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    You’ve done so much great work Jeana! We will miss you.

  7. Grey Magauran July 20, 2016 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you Jeana! I am grateful for your leadership and for your many accomplishments while at BRO. I look forward to seeing where your career takes you next and wish you all the best on your journey. Keep on rockin’ sister!

  8. Bob Baskette July 20, 2016 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Jeana-
    You should be very proud of all that you have accomplished with BRO. To think 16 year old teens just now grabbling with their own sexuality were new borns when you started with Basic Rights! Your leadership and thousands of volunteer and staff hours have made Oregon a much better place for those teens to be themselves. And having grown up just 23 miles from E-burg in Cle Elum I can relate to your cowboy town background.

  9. Jenny Smith July 20, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you for all you’ve done for our community. I’m sure you will have great success wherever you’re headed! Brava????

  10. Eva Sylwester July 20, 2016 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your service.

  11. Harriet Merrick July 21, 2016 at 8:06 am - Reply

    Jeana, what a pleasure it has been to work with you and watch you lead BRO with both compassion and vision, to see BRO grow and evolve under your leadership, and obtaining so many victories. Wishing you many adventures, deserved rest, and play in the year ahead. See you at Ignite:)

  12. Douglas Hamill, MD July 25, 2016 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Jeana! You’ve been great in so many ways. Please say more about the future leadership and direction — donors and supporters need to know that your energy and skills continue onwards.

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