We want to warmly welcome our new 2014 Justice Fellow, Ryannah Quigley! Ryannah began her career working on issues that impact the homeless youth community (HYC). Before joining our team at Basic Rights Oregon she has already had a long career, working with SMYRC, Q Center, Portland City Hall, Multnomah County Commissioner’s Office and Portland Police Bureau to create safety for our LGBTQ community. I sat down to talk with Ryannah during her first week at Basic Rights to find out more about her perspectives on the work Basic Rights is doing and what she looks forward to accomplishing over the course of her fellowship.
Why do you feel it is important for people to get involved with Basic Rights Oregon?
I think there are many reasons I think from my own perspective Basic Rights has so many levels of interactions and represents so many issues throughout the organization. Basic Rights also allows voices and the community to be heard and to be part of the process of change.
What are the most pressing issues for queer and trans people of color in Oregon? What issues are you most passionate about?
I can’t say there is just one issue out there, but will say there are many! I am passionate about a lot of things, as many of them directly impact me as a trans woman of color. Specifically I’m interested in breaking down stereotypes and judgments that are made about trans people of color.
Who is your personal Queero (queer and/or trans hero)?
Laverne Cox- her work has motivated me to work even harder in the work I do, and to love everyone equally.
Like you said this work is sometimes very personal. What keeps you motivated to do work that can be sometimes stressful?
My personal experiences in the LGBTQ community are the biggest motivator for me. I want to have a better community and a more understanding approach when working in the LGBTQ community.
There’s lots of different ways that people create change but sometimes folks aren’t sure how to get involved in advocacy. What would you say to other folks who want to get into organizing and advocacy as a career?
I would tell them to follow your heart. To remember why you really want to do this work. Don’t get involved for glory or for short term gains and remember that we can make a change one step at a time, one person at a time.