Welcome, Kim!

Kim Leighton, Regional Development Organizer in Montana
Pride Foundation is pleased to welcome Kim Leighton as the new Regional Development Organizer in Montana!
Kim was born and raised in Helena, Montana and graduated from the University of Montana in 2003. Throughout her career in Montana, she has worked with many of our closest partners and allies first with the YWCA of Missoula Domestic Violence shelter as an advocate and also with the ACLU of Montana. Most recently, Kim has served as the Program Director at NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, working both on the policy level as well as doing grassroots advocacy throughout the state to ensure that reproductive freedoms remain protected in Montana.
“As a queer woman with a background in organizing, networking, and volunteer coordination, I am thrilled to join the Pride Foundation team and represent the great state of Montana. I am excited to be a part of an organization whose mission, vision, and values resonate strongly with my own.”
Kim has seen firsthand how issues affecting the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups overlap, and in turn, how these intersecting concerns inform strategy and alliances. She is very passionate about this work as it affects her own life, but also that of so many others in Montana.
Kim is looking forward to further building a strong community with all of you. She is also eager to dedicate time to creating collaborations with organizations, businesses, faith leaders, and other foundations to continue moving equality forward in the Treasure State.
We are so delighted to have Kim as part of the Pride Foundation team! Please join us in welcoming Kim.
Thank you. Please be in touch if you have any questions.
Kris Hermanns
Executive Director

Know Any Closeted Gay/Bi MT Men?

We want to know about your/their lives! A grad student at the U of M is working on a very worthwhile project to help us understand the reality of men in Montana who have sex with men (MSM) but are not out or do not identify as gay or bi. This is important work, so if you can assist us, it would be greatly appreciated. 

~

I am a researcher with the University of Montana collecting information about sexual health attitudes and behaviors. Specifically, I am interested in understanding more about men who are closeted or not open about having sex with other men.

I am looking to anonymously interview men who have sex with other men who live in Montana and are between the ages of 18 and 69.

I realize what a personal topic this is, so I want to emphasize that this study is completely ANONYMOUS. If you would be willing to participate in this study, you can contact me at (406) 552 – 2115 or amee1.schwitters@umconnect.umt.edu orum.menshealthsurvey@gmail.com. We can then arrange a time to conduct the (one) interview over the telephone or we can meet in person. The interviews will be audio recorded and then typed into a word processor. The audio will then be destroyed. Your name will NOT be associated with this study in any way, nor will your location or any identifying information be mentioned. As an incentive for your participation, I would like to offer you $25.00.

This study has been approved by the University of Montana Institutional Review Board (IRB 63-10) expires 03-2012 (A copy of the approved IRB application can be provided). Again, if you are interested or even potentially interested in participating in this study, please contact me at (406) 552 – 2115 or amee1.schwitters@umconnect.umt.edu or um.menshealthsurvey@gmail.com.

Thank you for your consideration.
Amee Schwitters, MPH
PhD Candidate
University of Montana
Department of Anthropology

Queering Ecology: One Goose At A Time

If you’re an amateur naturalist, like me, you’ve probably spent some time in the library or online looking for sexual ambiguity in nature- after all, one of the biggest arguments against the biodiversity of sexual orientation is this: Natural Law.

The argument basically says nature dictates what is (and what isn’t) natural. The basic premise for years had been that animals and plants have clearly established sexual roles and are completely hetero-oriented. And that was a basic premise of my high school science and biology classes.

Because my own experience doesn’t bear this out, I’ve always known that science would soon catch up- destroying the faulty premise of hetero-only natural law. My friend Alex Johnson- a bona fide environmental scientist, also had the itch to find the versatility of nature.

In his fascinating piece for Orion Magazine, Alex writes:

Where is the line between what is Nature and what is Human? Do I spend equal times in the parking lot and the forest? Can I really say the parking lot is separate from the forest? What if I end up staying in the parking lot the whole time? What if it has been a long drive and I really have to pee?

The problem is, the Nature/Human split is not a split. It is a dualism. It is false.

I propose messing it up. I propose queering Nature.

As it would happen, I’m queer. What I mean is this: A) I am a man attracted to men. B) Popular culture has told me that men who are attracted to men are unnatural, and so C) if my culture is right, then I am unnatural. But D) I don’t feel unnatural at all. In fact, the love I share with another man is one of the most comfortable, honest, real feelings I have ever felt. And so E) I can’t help but believe that Nature, and the corresponding definition of “natural,” betray reality. From my end of the rainbow, this thing we call Nature is in need of a good queering.

Like I said- fascinating.  Read the full piece here.
Then forward it to your high school science teacher.