Few allies have had more impact on the lives of LGBTQ people than Thalia Zepatos, a longtime citizen of Portland. A co-founder of Basic Rights Oregon, she played a leading role fighting every statewide anti-gay ballot measure in Oregon – and subsequently many other states – since 1988. In the 1990s, Thalia trained hundreds of LGBT candidates to run for political office for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. As Director of Organizing and Training for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Thalia trained and mentored a team of LGBTQ organizers that fought ballot measures and defended trans-inclusive non-discrimination laws nationwide.
After the loss of California’s Prop 8, Thalia focused full-time on changing the way Americans talk about marriage for same-sex couples. At Freedom to Marry, she collaborated with leaders in Oregon and beyond to develop Why Marriage Matters, a public education partnership of over 30 state and national organizations. She then played a leadership role in creating Familia es Familia, a national partnership of two-dozen Latino civil rights organizations. Widely credited as a “message guru” who cracked the code on marriage, Thalia’s work led directly to the first four statewide marriage victories at the ballot in 2012. Zepatos is the co-author (along with Liz Kaufman) of Women for a Change: A Grassroots Guide to Activism and Politics, and also published two travel books for women. She lives in Portland with her husband, Mike.
HERE is a link to a lengthy article that explains quite a bit about Thalia’s work.
Q Center and the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN) have partnered on an annual multi-media celebration of LGBTQ pioneers and leaders from our local movement called Queer Heroes NW!
The project features a new queer hero (nominated by the greater LGBTQ community) every day online during Pride month (June). The 30 queer heroes are also featured on the walls of the Aaron Hall Gallery at Q Center for the months of June and July, as well as in Q Center’s Pride booths all over the region.
After Pride is over each year the portable display hits the road and makes the rounds all over community centers, schools, churches, and businesses in the Pacific NW! Help us honor our queer heroes by spreading the word.