Advancing Queer Literacy in Los Alamos and Beyond
by Devon Hoffman, Executive Director
(Devon pictured left with Resource Specialist Tara Adams [sitting left] at Los Alamos' Pride Festival)
It has been a pleasure to observe Los Alamos’ Pride month celebrations. The Library’s Read with Pride event, the festival (where JJAB was able to participate), the progress flag at LANL, the Atomic Follies cabaret—and the many other events and commemorations showcasing so much collective contribution.
Meanwhile, JJAB has building our own internal and community-wide literacy around LGBTQ+ issues, especially pertaining to youth. I have been pleased to find that there seems to be a good ‘101’ level literacy in Los Alamos. It shows there are plenty of people here striving to be allies and educating themselves accordingly.
This literacy has come in handy when responding Los Alamos’ tiny but vocal contingent of people spewing illogical arguments to invalidate queer folks; last month, there was a man who repeatedly painted over the pride-themed mural on the White Rock. These people regularly prompt a swift and impassioned response from the queer community and their allies.
A trans woman myself, I’m grateful to those sticking up to bigots. That said, as this tit-for-tat discourse with a hateful minority absorbs so much attention, we risk confusing LGBTQ 101 as a kind of induction into some ‘bigotry response squad’ rather than what it really should be: the first step into a paradigm shift to expand the range and scope of human potential.
So I’m eager to continue advancing queer literacy in this influential scientific community. I’d love to see Los Alamos become a thought leader—continuing to push the threshold of thinking on all the beautiful ways a community can integrate its own natural human diversity. But what does it look like to go beyond June celebrations, denying bigots their day, and 101? I don’t think we’re supposed to know. Instead, we must stay aware of and continue making space for the queer, the unexpected, and the fabulous.
For JJAB’s part, we are hoping to expand our LGBTQ One Circle and are working with the Transgender Resource Center to cultivate deeper material than offered in their 101 courses. We are also eager and to explore new, emergent possibilities in education and action, in collaboration with other local organizations, and the LGBTQ+ community—especially the youth.