Debra Porta of Pride Northwest Shares Some of the Women Who Inspire Her

Women’s History Month, 2019

By Debra Porta of Pride Northwest

I don’t tend to find my inspiration and sense of strength from women in history books or stories of fiction. This is especially so as regards queer women. It’s always possible that had I been exposed to the stories of queer women before me that might be different. But growing up in Texas, not so much. However, I was fortunate to have strong Texas women to look to.

Women like Barbara Jordan who may or may not have been family (that’s not for me to say), who I remember watching on TV when I was 10 years old, giving that now famous address at the Democratic National Convention. What little I knew of politics at the time didn’t matter. What I knew was that this woman was owning that space in front of thousands of people in a way I had never seen before. As I learned more about Jordan’s legacy of leadership years later, she just became more and more of an inspiration to me. And it wasn’t just because she overcame the obstacles she faced as black woman holding elected office in Texas; it was her complete and utter sense of an “I am me, I know my worth” attitude, one of those things difficult to describe but you know it when you see.

That same sense of self is what inspired me about Texas governor Ann Richards. I had the opportunity to meet her when I was in high school before she governor. In addition to her great sense of humor, something Jordan also possessed, you could just see the “go ahead cowboy give it a try” glint of steel in her eyes. She was not gonna be played by anybody. Neither of these women, to my young eyes, seemed to need, or to be asking for, permission to be who they were or to say what they needed to say.

Many years later after I moved to Oregon, I completely fell in love I completely fell in love with state senator Avel Gordly, who upon learning I was from Texas, immediately instructed me to read Barbara Jordan’s biography. She carries that same spirit of self-knowing that so moves me.

I don’t really believe in the concept of heroes, of singular individuals as super-humans, as somehow more special than everyone else-and more important, on whom we project our own abilities to lead and to make change. Every single day, I see womxn changing the world. As I’ve grown older and become active in my community, it isn’t the famous or titled people that inspire me.

The womxn that inspire me now, the ones who drive me to be better every day, who have helped and continue to help me to grow both as a woman and as a person…most of them don’t even know they do that. Through my association with Pride Northwest I’ve been fortunate enough to now work with-and be called out-by amazing queer womxn. Working with them has been a fundamentally life changing experience for me, one that I will forever be grateful for.

Womxn like Lyles Felicia, Alyssa, Jackie, Mary, Kristan, Jessica, Margaret Ann….the list goes on. Not a single one of these womxn sits on a pedestal. They are as fallible and as human as the rest of us. But when they are gone one day, when they have passed into history (maybe a bit famous, maybe not), the world they leave will have been made better and stronger because of them. These womxn who lead every day by their example, these are my heroes.

if you know anyone in the community who you think ProudTimes should celebrate email sebastian@proudtimes.com and we’ll see what we can do! They can be LGBTQ+ or our allies!