Cool Queer Activist Alert!
If your organization lost a third of its funding to city budget cuts, what would you do?
Would you close up shop? Quit your job? Lay down and scream?
If you're super-rad queer activist Cyndee Clay, you tighten your belt, shake out your blue dreadlocks and get back to work supporting one of the District's most vulnerable populations: sex workers.
The former Mormon and executive director of one of WTGG's favorite D.C. nonprofits—HIPS, or Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive—told Metro Weekly's Will O'Bryan that LGBT youth often turn to sex work when they've been kicked out of their homes. HIPS supports these clients with HIV testing, support groups, safe sex education and a bevy of other much-needed services.
I volunteered for a few years on the HIPS outreach van, which trolls the streets Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. It was one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences I've had in the city. Clay started out as a volunteer in 1996 and touts the 60-person team as essential to HIPS' success.
In her MW interview, Clay spoke eloquently on the sexuality spectrum that causes so many of us queer folks more than our fair share of migraines:
If I was going to identify with a community, I would definitely identify more with the queer community. I've formerly identified with the bisexual community, a community that doesn't get talked about a lot. I've always been comfortable standing across the line of definitions, questioning why we have these definitions. Radically defining my sexuality in a box hasn't ever been really helpful in my life.
We couldn't agree more.
Photos by Todd Franson (Metro Weekly)