Category Archives: Civil Rights

Celebrating 5 years of community service! 2014 has been a year of tremendous growth and success for Free2Be!

Dear Friend of Free2Be and the LGBTQ South,
For the past 5 years GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, Inc., now doing business as Free2Be, has been positioned as a leading organization representing the LGBTQ people of Alabama and the South.  With your support we have advocated successfully for under-represented minority groups while providing direct social services designed to meet the needs of LGBTQ people.This year Free2Be was positioned to be the only organization in Alabama to receive Federal funding to create culturally specific programming to support to LGBTQ people and our family members who are victims of violent crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence. With this funding we are supporting the health and safety of LGBTQ people across Alabama through the Free2Be Safe Anti-Violence Project.With these amazing opportunities comes the need to increase our financial support from you, our friends. Our current Federal funding is based on reimbursements.  This means we must raise several thousand dollars in order to begin the process of spending money on programming so that we may then receive the grant funding in the form of monthly reimbursements.   Increasing our current fundraising is essential to our ability to re-apply and to receive future grant awards for this extremely important work.All of us here at Free2Be are thankful that you have joined us in our mission to build a compassionate and inclusive society.  I have included links and summaries of the wonderful things that the agency is doing with the support we receive as well as the link to where you may give your gifts online.  You may also mail them to us at the address at the end of the newsletter.I wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and invite you to continue with us on our amazing journey in 2015!
Sincerely,  James Robinson
Executive Director
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The Free2Be Safe Anti-Violence Project provides help and support to LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of Alabama when they need it most. Every year LGBTQ people are beaten, harassed, and killed just for being themselves.  Many cannot find safety at home or in their intimate relationships.  Free2Be Safe AVP provides crucial services for people who need help and support:

  • Counseling for victims of hate violence, domestic violence, and sexual violence.

  • Therapeutic support groups for survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and children experiencing trauma after witnessing acts of violence.
  • Peer support groups for LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ young adults, and adults who are Transgender.
  • Nationwide referrals for services.
  • Public education and prevention services.
  • All Free2Be Safe AVP services are provided free because of the support of generous donors and grant funding through the Victims of Crime Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.
  • All people needing help are welcome regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

RCPride 2015 with #

Save the date! June 21st 2015 – Huntsville’s Historic Depot & Roundhouse

North Alabama’s Celebration of Diversity and Equality.  Building a compassionate & inclusive South by bringing diverse individuals, groups, and communities together!

* Rocket City Pride benefits the Free2Be LGBTQ Resource Center & the Free2Be Safe Anti-Violence Project.

Free2Be Radio

Bringing you conversations, spoken word poetry, & music from our friends around the World!  Hosted by activist and advocate for the LGBTQ community and founder of Free2Be James Robinson


Gay-Straight Alliance necessary for school’s growth

- Beryl Kessio

Editor’s Note:  Beryl is a student at Sparkman High School which is in the Madison County school system.  (Harvest, Alabama)  She is Editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crimson Crier.

History has been made at the school with the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance, and I am proud to call myself an Ally.  After the long announcement read by Erin Coggins introducing the club, students and even teachers seemed confused about the motives of the club. “What is a Gay-Straight Alliance and why do we need one here?” they asked.

In essence, a GSA is a school club in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, straight and questioning students converge to discuss significant issues that we all face in a safe, accepting atmosphere. One firm rule of the GSA is that students are never to ask another student to discuss their sexual orientation unless he or she volunteers that information.

Sorry to disappoint those who thought we would be traipsing through the halls with rainbow flags and glitter bombs parading our sexualities. We have a more savory mission: we are advocates for all students; maintaining a safe learning environment in our school is paramount to the club, along with promoting acceptance and awareness throughout the community.

We need this club now more than ever.  Our school’s motto—excellence our tradition, diversity our strength—embodies the need for the GSA; we are a school filled with voices aching to be heard.

In many parts of the word, it can be deadly to be anything other straight. Even here, there are unspoken hindrances placed upon those who identify with certain labels.

It seems that the odds are stacked against LGBTQ youth. Bullying is a staggering problemfor those who identify as or are assumed to LGBTQ. According to a 2009 survey by the CDC, of more than 7,000 LGBT students aged 13–21 found that in the past year—because of their sexual orientation—eight out of 10 had been verbally harassed and six out of 10 felt unsafe at school. Suicide rates among LGBTQ youth are especially high compared to other groups. Even as our understanding of human sexuality evolves, there is one thing everyone can agree on:  students can never reach their full potential if they are targets of hatred and insolence. All of this points to the need for safe environments in which youth can be themselves without fear of reproach from their peers.

Today, we have labels for every subset of human interest— “Directioners,” “Whovians,” “Potterheads” and “Deadheads” are a few. There are endless boxes we can check; we as a society categorize ourselves to oblivion. Do not misunderstand; labels provide us with a collective culture we can identify with. There comes a point, however, when we must ask ourselves when our inherent urge to classify does more harm than good. When it comes to sexuality, labels are often misconstrued. They oversimplify. No label captures the deep, innate complexity of what it means to be a human being.

In the GSA, we call each other Allies. I am an Ally because I choose to illuminate the shadows cast by ignorance. Allies transcend those labels that are placed on us, allowing us to interact without bias or pretense, without judgement or condemnation, because before we are straight or gay, we are people.

The school has a place where all students, regardless of identifier, can show solidarity by celebrating the characteristics that make us beautiful individuals, and that is something I have no shame in being a part of.

(Republished with permission of the author) is part of


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