Hello and Happy Summer!
My name is Brady Corcoran and I am serving as an Intern for Justice during Summer 2019 in the Portland area. I am a senior majoring in Accounting and minoring in Sociology. I wanted to pursue the Interns for Justice program as it presented me with the opportunity to dive deeper into my sociology minor and has allowed me to better understand the concepts and material that I have learned in my sociology classes thus far.
The organization I chose to intern with this summer is an organization that serves a population that is near and dear to my heart. Located on Mississippi Ave. and Mason St., Q Center serves as a resource center for those who identify as part of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community and allies of this community. Offering services ranging from peer support groups to simply providing a safe space for folks, Q Center has been and continues to be a resource center for those in need. More information about my organization can be found here: https://www.pdxqcenter.org/
Myself (left) and the Executive Director for Q Center, Cameron (right)
One individual whom I have had the privilege of getting to know by working at the Q Center is Melissa. Melissa identifies as female and is wheelchair bound. She is a frequent visitor to the Q Center and has much to say regarding politics, government and life in general. Melissa has been dealing with houselessness as well as mental health issues. She has been able to find sanctuary at Q Center and spends much of her time here during drop-in hours. At first, I was weary about getting to know Melissa. This was on behalf of the privileges that I have, which include being a white, able-bodied, cis-gender male. However, after recognizing that we both frequented Q Center often, Melissa began opening up to me and talking to me about her life.
One tragic story that Melissa shared with me has helped shape my understanding of how sexuality, gender identity, ableism, and race affect how one is perceived by the public. Melissa often must panhandle up and down Mississippi Ave. in order to afford a decent meal for the day. One day when she was asking folks for money, a white man with his family asked Melissa if she needed a push. She said yes, that would be nice. The man then pushed her nearly into oncoming traffic. He laughed and his family walked away. Melissa recounts that the worst part was that this man had a child with him and explained that children are being taught to hate those who are different, rather than embrace and welcome them.
My heart went out to Melissa as this is but one of the struggles she must face daily. I appreciated Melissa sharing this story with me as I can better understand the struggles that the LGBTQ2SIA+ community faces, specifically the trans community as well as people of color. There are other people out there who are treated poorly simply because they are “different”. This is a continuous battle that we must fight in order to ensure that these groups of people are no longer seen as “less than” by the public, but instead are valued and welcomed into our communities.
“Together, we rise!” – A saying painted on the outside of the Q Center Facility
By working with the Interns for Justice program, I have had the opportunity to dive in and see what issues currently are affecting the LGBTQ2SIA+ community in Portland, in other parts of Oregon and in other parts of the United States. By working to ensure that ALL members of this community are treated as part of the community, not just the G, not just the T, but ALL members who identify as part of this community, it is possible to demonstrate that these people who are often left out matter and are valued members of society. Thank you for the opportunity to dive deeper and explore the issues that are very real to many people living in the Portland-metro area. I look forward to sharing more as the program draws to a close in August.