OutSpokane's Voices of Victory spotlights the history of our community's struggle for equality, annually featuring a different individual(s), advocate(s) or artist(s) whose work has advanced GLBT civil rights. Voices of Victory consists a community-wide forum, plus an afternoon meet-and-greet session with the year's specially chosen honoree(s), who also usually serves as the Pride Parade's Grand Marshal(s).
We established the Heritage Pride Institute in 2006 in response to a LGBT community request for more information about movement landmarks and leaders. In 2010 we renamed the Institute to Voices of Victory in an effort to reimagine what pride looks like today, highlight the successes of the LGBTQA rights movement, and share a vision for the future. We understand how important it is to recognize our heroes - and to educate our LGBTQA youth, and remind ourselves, of their legacy. It's hard to forge a path forward if we don't know how we got where we are. The rights many of us now take for granted were won with the blood, sweat and tears of many brave pioneers.
2012 Honoree Dean LynchDean Lynch grew up on a small farm near Quincy, WA. His lifelong history of involvement in community and civic affairs began in childhood with 4-H, Future Farmers of America, school activities and organized sports. He attended Washington State University, graduating with a BA in Sociology majoring in Social Welfare. He was president of his fraternity, participated in WSU Campus YMCA and helped conduct communication and antiracism workshops with students and Pullman residents. Dean moved to Spokane in September of 1973.
Dean Lynch retired from the State of Washington in October 1999. This capped 25 years of working with children and families in both the public and nonprofit arena. Activities include live-in Director of a boys' home, parenting foster children, conducting Child Protective Service investigations, training foster parents and licensing group care and child placing agencies. In 2003 he started his own business and joined the Inland Northwest Business Alliance.
Dean and Michael Flannery, his partner of 25 years, recently moved to the south hill, to a home they built on the site of Michael's family home. They left their historic home in Browne's Addition where Dean had been an active member of the Browne's Addition Neighborhood Steering Committee, serving in Chairmanship positions for 6 years. He successfully facilitated neighborhood efforts in developing the Browne's Addition Design Plan, the construction of the historic replica gazebo and other improvements in Coeur d'Alene Park, the traffic circle at Cannon & Pacific (the first approved in the City of Spokane), and other neighborhood projects. He has only been in the Rockwood Neighborhood for two years and is already serving as its Chairman.
Dean served as Cubmaster and Webelos leader with the Boy Scouts of America and was an assistant Sunday school teacher. He helped Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Browne's Addition establish the Garfield Kids Latch Key program and served as Chairman for eight years. He was an early member of the Board of Directors of the Spokane AIDS Network. In 1990, Dean helped found and then served as the Chairman of the AIDS Emergency Project. He also helped establish Pride Statewide -- Spokane & Kootenai Counties, and served as the Chairman for the first 3 years. He represented Spokane on the Statewide Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee to the Department of Social & Health Services for 10 years.
Along with gardening, a favorite passion is politics. For the last 30 plus years Dean has been active in local politics. He served as Precinct Committee Officer and Chair of the 3rd Legislative District Democrats. He was elected delegate to represent the 5th Congressional District at the National Democrat Convention in 2000, proudly voting to nominate Al Gore for President of the United States of America. He was actively involved in the Privacy Fund, Outside the Lines, and Citizens Advancing Equality, LGBT political action committees that evaluated local candidates and raised dollars for endorsed candidates and LGBT issues.
The late John Deen, publisher of Stonewall News Northwest, 1995-2005, challenged then Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty to protect the rights of all citizens. Dean worked with the Human Rights Commission and others in writing the Human Rights Ordinance to protect everyone from discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing & public accommodations. In 1999 Dean served as co-chair of the NO on Discrimination campaign which successfully preserved those protections at the ballot box. Other major campaign responsibilities included implementing the Democrat Coordinated Campaign for Spokane County in 2000, co-chairing the Transit Yes! campaign for public transit in 2002 and coordinating and developing the field plan for the successful Mary Verner for Mayor campaign in 2007.
One of his political highlights was serving on the Spokane City Council in 2001 as an out gay man.
When asked the purpose of his life, Dean is quick to say it is service: service to the Spokane Community, service to the LGBT community, and service to family which includes his partner Michael, their large extended family and their chosen family.
Edited by Barb Williamson
2012 Honoree Nancy AveryNancy was born in 1952 and was raised in Cumberland, Wisconsin, a very small town whose population at the time was about 1900. She was a very active member of the Lutheran Church and in high school served as the Northern Wisconsin District Lutheran League President. That Lutheran upbringing brought many good things but allowed for many fears as well.
Her first experience in Social Justice was serving as part of a planning team from several local high schools to fund Project STOP (Steps to Progress), to help fund a community center for the Sand Lake Chippewa tribe just outside her hometown. In 1970-1974 , Nancy attended River Falls Wisconsin University and received a degree in Elementary Education. There she met the love of her life, Dale. She and Dale and their children, Jenny ("Rabbit") and Jeremy, moved to Spokane, in the fall of 1979. Her husband Dale worked for the US Government as a geologist, and Nancy has been teaching at Jefferson Elementary for the last 28 years.
It is no surprise that Nancy and Dale and their family became members of the Unitarian Universalist church of Spokane in 1983. The congregation has been a Welcoming Congregation since 1993. When her daughter, Jenny, AKA Rabbit came out in 1993, Nancy didn't know what to do, how to react. "I was scared to death. Jenny was attending a small women's college in Nevada, Missouri. I had visions of her girlfriend and Rabbit walking down a street in Nevada and being attacked. It was time to take action, rather than let fear rule my life. I chose action." She and Dale walked in the first Pride march, shaking in their boots. Later Nancy took over leading the PRIDE team at the Unitarian Church in 2006 or 2007 and has helped in planning and manning the Family Area every since. Whenever and wherever possible she has asked, "How can we (The Unitarian Universalist Church) help?"
About 10 years ago when a teacher in the teacher's lounge was telling a hurtful gay joke at lunch, Nancy had enough. She told her teaching friends that Jenny was gay. One teacher asked her, "So do these comments bother you?" The lioness came out in her; it was then that she began "outing" Jenny at every school district leadership meeting. "Every time we talked about discrimination, I would speak about the importance of recognizing that our GBLT youth are discriminated against, and I would ask what are we going to do about that?"
She notes, "In my classroom I have a poster that states, 'Stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone.'" Sometimes, she says, "With regard to equal rights, I did stand alone with my darling husband Dale by my side, or in a very small group, but in the past few years I have seen a great change a comin'." What a joy it would be if everyone could say he/she married the love of his/her life this year, like I was able to do in 1973.
Edited by Barb Williamson
Past Heritage Pride Institute Honorees
In 2006, Internationally acclaimed author Patricia Nell Warren, whose 1974 novel The Front Runner challenged the mores of our nation regarding same-sex orientation, was the Heritage Pride Institute's first honoree.
In 2007, we were pleased to host Grethe Cammermeyer, the highest-ranking officer in the United States armed forces to acknowledge her homosexuality while still in the service. She successfully challenged the military's policy banning homosexuals prior to the implementation of what's now commonly called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
In 2008, we were able to bring two-spirit Steven Barrios (Long Time Holy Rain), a Native American community activist and HIV/AIDS educator who lives on the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, Montana.
In 2009, Marcia Botzer, a founding member of Equal Rights Washington - the organization that would help ensure the rights of LGBT citizens remained protected by Washington's expanded Domestic Partnership Law in 2009, spoke on her experiences as a community leader and visionary.
In 2010, Barb Williamson, teacher of literature, writing, cultural studies, and film at Spokane Falls Community College as well as co-advisor of The Alliance, the LBGTQ club at SFCC was one of our honorees. The title of her talk was “Queer Literary Images: Reading Homophobia Subversively or Just Wishful Thinking?” Also honoreed in 2010 was Nova Kaine (Jason Johnson). Nova spoke of her six carnations, she has graced stages and Cabarets in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, Spokane, and Portland. Over the course of 40 years she has slowly made her way across the country hoping to someday make the pilgrimage to Gay Mecca - San Francisco spreading the name and the love all the way across the nation.
Our two honorees in 2011 were Major Margaret Witt and Helen Bonser. Margaret Witt's biography is now part of the national historical record, in the long fight to repeal the U.S. government's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Margie, as she is called by her friends and family is a Washington native. After serving in the Air Force for 18 years Margie was discharged for being gay. "I am proud to have played a role in bringing about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," says Witt. Margie reached a settlement in 2010 in her landmark lawsuit against the policy and will retire with full benefits as an Air Force major. Helen Bonser has created a life of activism for herself. From a very young age she has always been on the side of what is fair and just. Starting with Migrant workers rights as a child, to the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's, to gender equality in the 70's, which lead to LGBT rights in the 80's. Helen's daughter came out as a lesbian & Helen realized there weren't any support groups for LGBT community members or their families. From that point on Helen has lead her chapter of PFLAG and she helped start the INBA, Odyssey Youth Group, and, of course, the Spokane Pride Celebration.
Voices of Victory is sponsored in part by: