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The Free2Be Network site is growing and will soon be a comprehensive site for all the services and programs of GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc.   We provide services and advocacy for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community across Alabama and the South.   Together we are doing great things!

10% of every purchase from Teazled through this link comes directly to support GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc.

Proudly Working for You in Alabama & the South!

GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is a comprehensive community service organization located in Huntsville, Alabama which serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.  Since 2009 this non-profit agency has worked to raise awareness of conditions impacting the lives of GLBTQ people such as bullying, homelessness, inadequate medical and mental health services, and prejudices which result in discrimination in employment, housing, and education.  In addition to raising public awareness intended to create high expectations of respect and inclusion of all people as equally important members of our society the agency also provides an array of social services including community building events.

The people within this organization are people who bear witness to the heartbreaking true stories of children who are being bullied.  They work to end bullying and do this with passion and conviction because many of them have been victims of this same violence and they do not want any more of our children to suffer as they have suffered.  They believe every child lost to suicide is an irretrievable loss to Humankind.

The agency continues to grow rapidly and provides opportunities for dozens of regular volunteers who give hundreds of hours each week helping to provide services and opportunities for members of their community.  In June of 2013 the agency opened the only Community & Resource Center for the GLBTQ community in Alabama.  This Center is affectionately called “Our Space” and provides a safe environment for individuals and groups that are often excluded because they are denied the respect they deserve as Human Beings.  GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services uses its resources to show respect for everyone and to return hope to people who have had their hope stripped away from them because of bigotry, irrational hate, and fear.

Progress toward Civil and Human Rights for all people is often delayed in the Southern United States.  This delay is due in part to the scarcity of organizations in this region which work to promote the necessity of the inclusion of diverse populations in all parts of our society including our religious organizations and government.  There is a growing conversation in the region which includes the value of diversity and the importance of inclusive practices and inclusive public standards.  GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is a key participant in this growing conversation and in actions leading to inclusive practices.   The agency recognizes social change is a process, not an event, and strives to be steadfast and consistent as it works to education people and to build bridges among diverse communities which often have very different goals and objectives.  This steadfastness and consistency has earned GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services the reputation of being an organization that is dedicated to the best interest of the entire community while being the leading organization specifically serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community in the region.

The agency carries forward a variety of projects, services, and dreams for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community in the South inclusive of all people who will join and support them.   You are encouraged to follow and support the work of this truly inspiring and amazing organization.  They are the Free2Be Network.

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A Message of Gratitude to Spirit of the Cross Church in Huntsville, Alabama

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Spirit of the Cross Church

Dear Friends,

Four years ago I began a very important conversation.  This conversation was and continues to be about the well-being and future of our community.  This conversation was begun at Spirit of the Cross because as a member I found a safe haven as I healed from years of self-abuse.  When I began to develop my personal ministry I reached out to the congregation to join me as I worked to heal wounded spirits, return hope to the lonely, and to build a sense of community in a city where I was told this would not be possible because others had tried before me.   When I announced publicly that I had been an addict some people simply waited for me to return to that life of self-abuse.  Now, four years later, I wish to publicly acknowledge that the leadership of Spirit of the Cross has been a steadfast partner in my work.  Pastor Richard and the Board of Directors have been with me every step of this amazing journey and always provided more than I asked.  For a year the agency used the church building 7 nights a month for a variety of support groups and for 2 more years we used the building 5 nights each month.  Additionally, we have been given space to hold many events both to raise support for our work and to raise awareness of important issues affecting our community.  Without the support of Spirit of the Cross GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services would simply not be where it is today.  Our community owes the congregation at Spirit of the Cross a debt which we will never be able to repay because during these early years when I often felt alone in my work I always knew I could come to the church leadership and receive their support and encouragement.  Many of my fellow church members have witnessed my tears of joy and frustration during these four years.  This sharing is part of what makes us a family and you will always be my family.

It is with a humbling sense of pride in our community that I now share with you a brief summary of some of what you have made possible.  The recognitions I have received and those of the agency cannot be seen as separate because without this great organization as a platform my personal voice would not have been respected or acknowledged.

With your help we have:

Ÿ* Reached hundreds of youth and adults with support groups where they have been safe to seek help and express their needs

*Ÿ Provided community events where participation ranged from 5 people at one candlelight vigil to an estimated attendance of 2,500 at Rocket City Pride 2013

*Ÿ Reached millions with positive awareness of the GLBTQ community in Huntsville and Alabama through over 60 television interviews, radio programs, newspaper stories, magazine articles, through online publications and programs including LGBTQ Nation, The New Civil Right’s Movement, PBS’s Need To Know and HuffPost Live, through my recognition as one of five people transforming five communities as part of the Encore Careers movement, and as the recipient of the Billy Jack Gaither Humanitarian Award

*Ÿ Trained future social workers from four major universities including Oakwood University, the University of  Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama A&M University, and the University of Southern  California

*Ÿ Educated hundreds of students through public speaking at local universities

*Ÿ Participated in the Huntsville Area Inclusive Communities Initiative, the Interfaith Mission Service, the Youth Services Council, the Alabama Association of Non-profits, Centerlink the Community of LGBT Centers, the Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless, the North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, and the FBI’s Citizen’s Academy

*Ÿ  Re-established Rocket City Pride as a community wide celebration of diversity and inclusion and as an event which we can be proud to attend and support

*Ÿ Opened the only Community and Resource Center for the GLBTQ community in Alabama

With your support I have been recognized as an advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and as a Civil Rights/Human Rights activist seeking social justice for any group not being given the respect they deserve in our society.  Leaders in our community and across the region show respect for me personally because I have remained true to the vision and mission of GLBTAYS which your support made possible.

I look forward to many more years together as we work to create a safe and healthy community for everyone!  It’s all about community.   Together we are doing great things in Alabama and beyond!

With love & appreciation,

James Robinson, founder & Executive Director

james@glbtays.org

www.glbtays.org

GLBTAYS on facebook

Our Space Community Center on facebook

GayinAlabama on facebook

*** Spirit of the Cross Church is located at 3015 Sparkman Drive in Huntsville, Alabama.  http://www.spiritofthecross.org/

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Lessons learned as a “Community Leader” – With Recognition Comes Responsibility … I promise to …

– James Robinson, founder and executive director at GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc.

Because of my work as a community advocate & social justice activist I continue to be given amazing opportunities.  More and more often I am being recognized as a “Community Leader” and GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is being recognized as a leading organization in our community because we are making a difference despite the ever present lack of funding.

Tonight I attended the “Truth Hearing” presented by North Alabama Healthcare for All.  Dr. Pippa Abston and others organized this event to raise awareness of conditions facing our community regarding access to healthcare.  Individuals shared their stories, which more often than not were stories of struggles accessing healthcare or affording healthcare.

When I arrived I was given a seat on the stage as a person serving as a “Community Leader” because of the work I do through GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services.  On the stage with me were Alabama State Representative Laura Hall, Kenny Anderson representing the Mayor’s office of the  City of Huntsville, Sara Crocker from the City of Huntsville’s Human Relations Commission, and others.   We served as a “Listening Panel”.  I was both honored and humbled as local community members shared their struggles with us.  They looked to us as a group of people who are either in positions to create positive change or as people who know people who can create positive change.

As I listened to these incredible stories my heart was touched over and over by the strength and courage that I witnessed.  Some people found it difficult to finish their stories because they were interrupted by their own tears as they talked about their struggles or the struggles of loved ones.  As I listened I realized what an honor it was to be sitting on this stage and for these people to look to us with hope.  Hope that we and the people in the audience might possibly leave the event with a better understanding of the limited healthcare that is currently available, unfairly unavailable, or of such poor quality that their struggles continue.   Some of these people go without food in order to get their medications.

I left with a new awareness that people are looking to me for more than I ever imagined.  I am a very small fish in a large pond so to speak but I have a voice, I know many people, I have earned the respect of a community, and people listen to me.  People also look to me for help.  I promise to continue doing all I can to use GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services to serve our entire community.  I promise to use our offices at Our Space Community Center to provide support, resources, referrals, and space for support groups and community events.   I promise to use my voice and whatever influence I have been given to create positive changes in our community.

Please read more and join us on this Amazing Journey!   It’s all about community!  Together we are doing great things!

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Mississippi’s Conscience Should Be Burning … “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Updated 8-5-13

 

– Seth Azzarello and James Robinson

Close your eyes and imagine that for twenty-one years you have been in a committed loving relationship.  Your partner is the love of your life and the two of you have spent years planning your dreams and working on your life goals together. You have a beautiful home and both of you have been active members of your community.  Then, in an instant, a simple accident changes both your lives forever.  Your partner is in the hospital and you are being called ‘faggot’ by local police officers who are sworn to serve the community as they force you out of your home.  Your partner is thrown into a nursing home without your approval or knowledge and you can’t go see them because there is a warrant for your arrest because with the support of friendly police officers you briefly returned to your home where you had lived for the past twenty years.  Most of the community you have loved has suddenly turned its back on you and in your shock and disbelief you do not know where to turn …  in shocked desperation you reach out for help.

Does this sound like a horrible nightmare?  Are you thinking this could not happen in the Land of The Free … in the Home of The Brave in 2013?   It has happened and is happening now in Brookhaven, Mississippi. You don’t often hear about stories like this because important stories are often passed over and replaced with insignificant news stories that make us believe the fashion of celebrities or their latest personal problems are more important than Civil Rights …  more important than human decency.

Glenn Easter wants what most of us want out of life.  Glenn wants respect and justice.  Glenn’s partner, eighty-six year old David, fell at their home on April 12, 2013.   Glenn was upstairs in the bathroom when David fell and a paramedic came in the house screaming Glenn’s name.  Glenn came running outside in his robe.  David had gotten up and continued toward the street where he collapsed while calling Glenn’s name as loudly as he could.

After twenty-one years of being together David and Glenn had a plan in place in case something like this were to happen. Glenn has power of attorney for David and his name is also on the lease of their home. They believed they were completely covered.  Or, so they thought.  They did not realize that local bigotry and prejudice would over-ride the legal preparations they made together.

David was taken to the hospital and his family was informed.  Glenn was worried about his partner as David began to go in and out of a coma. During the moments of going in and out of consciousness, David suffered a stroke. It was at this point that Glenn lost all control of his life and his partner’s life.

David’s nephew moved David to another hospital without Glenn’s consent or knowledge. This nephew had gone behind their backs and gotten a conservatorship; which gives the nephew “control” over decisions for David. The judge who issued this conservatorship was in another county and either didn’t bother to find out if someone else had the legal right to care for David or this judge simply did not care to acknowledge and uphold Glenn’s legal standing.

Just when Glenn didn’t think it could get worse, the nephew, great nephew and a police officer entered his home and informed him he had ten minutes to get whatever he wanted and get out, because now the home belonged to the nephew and he was trespassing.  The local authorities had decided that the home David and  Glenn had shared for twenty years and which Glenn holds a lease on was no longer his home and he was forced to leave.  David is currently in a nursing home.  David and Glenn never wanted David to be in a nursing home.  They planned for Glenn to care for David if possible.  David believed Glenn would make decisions regarding his care.  Glenn hasn’t seen David for two months.  In fact, he can’t see David because he has been hiding while seeking legal assistance because he is wanted for trespassing in his own home.

Lambda Legal, which is well known for helping people in the GLBT community and people fighting HIV/AIDS, is helping Glenn Easter along with attorney Hays Burchfield.  Mr. Burchfield is working with a team of lawyers to bring justice to this small town in Mississippi.  Glenn is now having to turn himself in to the police.  Glenn’s attorney’s have advised him to turn himself in to show that he is cooperating and they plan to use this arrest in their case to show how Glenn’s rights have been violated.

Is this the kind of world where things like this should be allowed?  Shouldn’t we all have the right to love who we love without the fear that the legal system can strip it all all way.   Help us help Glenn Easter and David and other people who are victims of injustice by sharing this story.  Injustice will prevail if good people do not stand up for what is right and just.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Glenn plans to turn himself in to local authorities the week of July 29th.

Update 8-5-13

After Glenn reported to local authorities and plead Not Guilty to trespassing in his own home he was  given a Court date on Sept. 12 at 9:00 am.  He tried to see his partner David but David was not in the facility where Glenn last saw him.  David had been moved without Glenn’s permission or knowledge and Glenn has not found him yet.

Glenn says,  “I drive past my home and long to pull into my carport and set in my same spot outside were I have set many a day reading or working rewiring a chandelier or staining a table to sell and I am not allowed to go in … ?  I can’t even work to make the extra money I need to get by.  I have no access to my handicap equipment in my bathroom and have fallen twice trying to make due were I am.  I just want to set down here and cry. I just want to cry.”

If you would like more information about Glenn and David you may contact us at info@glbtays.org.

Seth Azzarello is a writer and volunteer at GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc.

James Robinson is a Civil Rights activist and advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.  He is the founder and executive director of GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc. in Huntsville, Alabama.

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