Emily Ryan is not only a strong Our Families leader that has been a part of Our Families since the beginning; Emily has been doing great work in our communities for years. If you don’t know how amazing Emily is then you can thank me for being Emily’s horn tooter!
Khalil: So Emily, you have been involved with Our Families since the very beginning. How and why did you get started with Our Families?
Emily: When I started with Our Families, I was offered an opportunity to grow myself as a person of color who was not completely out about my sexual orientation. Being a part of the Standing Together cohort that created Our Families was a chance for me to become more open and affirming of who I am and help those around me become comfortable as themselves as well.
Khalil: I’m sure that there have been several exciting moments for you over the past few years. Tell us a few of your top highlights:
Emily: The videos are definitely a big highlight. Seeing brave individuals and families tell their story of being both a person of color AND out about their gender and sexual orientation is both moving and inspiring. I have known some of the interviewees for a few years now and feel like I know them on a whole new level, through the videos.
Khalil: We all give our time and energy for different reasons. Tell us why you feel it is important for people to get involved with Our Families?
Emily: I have a background in public participation so I come from the point of view that everyone should be involved in something they care about. Our Families is something I care about and believe others should get involved for the passion they have for equality.
Khalil: I know that you have been involved with many great projects over the years. Our Families is only one of the many groups you are currently involved in. What other projects, groups, or activities are you involved with?
Emily: Currently, I am on the Board of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Commission on Children, Families, and Community of Multnomah County, and Asian Pacific Islander (API)Pride. I also volunteer for Bioneers and mobilize.org on a national level and the Oregon Bus Project and the Homeless Youth Oversight Committee on a local level.
I am most known as a former Multnomah Youth Commissioner, for sitting on Portland’s first Charter Review Commission in over 80 years, and running for Portland City Commissioner in 2008. Though, with returning to school, I have toned down a lot of what I commit my time and energy to.
Khalil: I want to personally say thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for equality! I know at times it can be difficult to stay involved, connected, and motivated. What is your secret for staying motivated?
Emily: I stay motivated knowing that there is still work to be done. If there wasn’t an issue at hand, I would not be necessary in this movement.
Khalil: Part of the work of Our Families has been to provide spaces in the community for LGBT People of Color. Has this part of the work been exciting for you?
Emily: It is always important to create a space that people feel comfortable in, even if they are not your target audience. I do not necessarily think a separate space should be created for LGBTQ people of color, but spaces should be inclusive, open, and affirming.
Khalil: Emily, thank you so much for sharing yourself with us and giving us a glimpse inside your world. We appreciate all the work you do and I know that you will continue to do great things. Thank you for letting me toot your horn, because you are truly amazing!
Category: News: Our Families