Welcome to my first column, Ask Branwen. I will be writing about the LGBTQ+ community and allies in the Greater Mohawk Valley and North Country. This column will provide news, opinion, and answers to questions from readers. My lens is that of a trans woman in her early 70s and a progressive on the left. Born and raised in the Ithaca area, I now live in Rome and am a member of Citizen Action of Central New York, Indivisible Mohawk Valley, and the Working Families Party.
I learned my chops by volunteering on local, state, and national political campaigns. As a published poet, artist, and research librarian, you get a unique and, at times, humorous view of the world through my eyes. An original poem will make an occasional appearance.
I do need ideas and questions from you. You are pretty bright, or else you wouldn’t be taking the time to read the Phoenix. Are there topics you want to be covered? Do you have concerns about the future of the gay community in the Greater Mohawk Valley? Here are some issues I will cover:
Where did all the gay bars go? No social space for the gay community? What is the state of health care in Oneida County for the LGBTQ+ community? What are the differences between gender, sex, preference, and identity? Are you confused by pronouns? What is the history of our local queer community? What should be taught about the LGBTQ+ community in our schools? What would be age-appropriate? How do I find true love after COVID? What is your coming-out story? What workplace issues affect the LGBTQ+ community?
Part of the advocacy is sharing my story – So I will do that here with a sense of humor and hope. Send in your questions. Do you want some advice? Just ask. Do you need connections to the local gay community or community resources? I can help you with that.
You can find me on Facebook (branwen.drew) and Twitter (@branwendrew). Read my poetry and essays at branwendrew.medium.com. My artwork is at branwendrew.com.
Excerpt from my poem, The Journey. Join me so we can share our stories.
We are all on a journey,
Destinations only to be guessed.
Hope to hear from you soon.