On Friday night at the Visual Arts Collective, the Les Bois Awards (formerly Elm Awards) were bestowed upon members and supporters of the LGBT community. The awards—all named for trees: The Ponderosa, The Acorn, The Sequoia, The Redwood, etc.— honor those people and organizations dedicated to "making a noticeable difference in the improvement of the quality of life for the LGBT community in Idaho."
Sponsored by The Community Center, it was a well-attended, well-crafted event with the inimitable Minerva Jayne as emcee, and winner of The Twiggy, an award for an LGBT entertainer who "promotes a positive outlook on life in the community." Entertainment came courtesy of Grammy-award-winning pianist Randy Coryell and local stand-up comic Matt Bragg, himself a Twiggy nominee. Food catered by Life's Kitchen was a lovely addition to a program that also included an inspirational, informative keynote speech from Monica Hopkins, the executive director of the ACLU of Idaho.
Boise Weekly was nominated for The Ponderosa award, which recognizes organizations outside of the LGBT community for their service and support. We lost to Flying M Coffeehouse which, for the past 16 years, has hosted their Valentines for AIDS auction, which benefits Safety Net for AIDS. It was an honor that BW was in the same category, and the coffeeshop is a deserving winner.
The award recipients were so humbled by the recognition, their thank-you speeches so humbling, that I drove home thinking change might be in the air. How is it that these people, these outstanding examples of humanity could continue to be denied the same basic rights afforded heterosexuals? If 100 people felt half as inspired as I was, change would be inevitable.
That same night, a friend of mine—wearing make-up, leather pants and a fur coat—was walking home from partying downtown. As he walked down Main Street, he was, in his words, "body checked from behind" near a popular bar. He went down hard, possibly blacking out for a moment. When he came to, he saw four big guys standing over him. They walked away as my friend struggled to his feet, without the assistance of any of the people milling around the sidewalk. He has a broken collarbone and a frightening bruise on his head.
The next night, another friend and his boyfriend were also walking home from downtown. As a car drove past them, one of the passengers leaned out and, unprovoked, yelled, "Hey, queers! Get a life!"
Safely inside the Visual Arts Collective on Friday, I could believe change was coming. Back outside in the real world, however, it feels like we still have a lot of work to do.