By Ellen Deatrick

Crowds gather to hear local politicians at the tenth-annual Nehamiah Action Assembly. Photo by Dustin Pugel.

Crowds gather to hear local politicians at the tenth-annual Nehamiah Action Assembly. Photo by Dustin Pugel.

Many people can’t stand to leave things unchecked on a to-do list. Lexington’s BUILD (Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct-Action) is not like that. Tuesday, April 16 at their tenth-annual Nehemiah Action Assembly, 1659 people showed up to address three items on the to-do list. The same three that were on there the year before. And the year before: payday lending, affordable housing, and barriers to ex-offender reentry.

BUILD keeps issues on the list until they can rightly be checked off. Such an approach has kept pressure on community officials and has made significant progress on solutions proposed for some of the community’s most pervasive social justice concerns. As Reverend John List put it: “We [BUILD] will drive you crazy with our persistence.” Continue reading »

 

By Ellen Deatrick

The Undressing Normal: (Un)conference on Sexuality for Those of Us DisLabeled took place February 10 at the Clarion Hotel in Lexington. Roughly 70 people attended—a diverse group sharing at least one purpose: they wanted to talk. Or should I say “we,” since I was one of the attendees, eager to engage.

In preparing to cover this event, I had someone ask me: “So is this going to be like an unarticle?” I thought about how an “unarticle” would look. One of the guiding principles of an unconference is: “whatever happens is the only thing that could have.” I like it. Yes, this will be an unarticle.

Six months ago, a steering committee met—that is, what became a committee. Then, it was simply a concerned group of Kentuckians. Latitude Artist Community led the synergy, sparked by the summer incident in Hazard County and looking to extend discussion on issues surrounding sexuality, disability, and gender identity. Back in June, two gay men with intellectual disabilities were forced from a Hazard community pool for what some deemed excessive displays of affection. While all parties involved appropriately resolved the situation, the events highlighted how few resources are available for educating disability caregivers on sexual matters, notably on LGBT support.  Co-owner of Latitude Bruce Burris flatly stated: “Since we’re accepting the idea—finally—that sexuality is, most people would agree, a normal part of life, it is about time that we should start talking about this.” Continue reading »

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