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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 15, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 46
Celebrating 10 years of UTOPIA Seattle!
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Celebrating 10 years of UTOPIA Seattle!

by Taffy Maene-Johnson, founder/executive director When I came to Washington state in 2006, there was no Pacific Islander LGBTQI community to seek support or access resources from. Because I didn't want other LGBTQI Pacific Islanders to face the same struggles and lack of resources and community that I faced, I reached out to a few of my Fa'afafine sisters about creating a space for us. From there, United Territories of Pacific Islanders' Alliance (UTOPIA) Seattle was created in 2009 to provide a safe, welcoming, and supportive space for members of the Queer and Trans Pacific Islanders (QTPI, pronounced cutie-pie) community to address basic needs, build career and life pathways, foster a sense of common purpose, and advocate for social justice for QTPI community members.

My work to support members of the QTPI community arises directly out of the struggles I have faced as a member of that community. I am motivated and inspired by the people I work with in UTOPIA Seattle - from my fellow community members, who share their time and energy and ideas, to our clients, who are struggling with the very same issues I faced. I am energized by the QTPIs who are like family to me. Helping them to find the resources they need to succeed gives me strength, and we are working together to fight against the discrimination we face because of our gender identity and as people of color.

This is my passion. My struggles, pain, and challenges keep me going and drive me to continue to do good for the community, for our youth, our future generations, and for a better tomorrow. I recognize the unique struggles and difficulties the QTPI community faces as well as its unique and inspiring stories. The beliefs I hold and the work I do reflect the oppression, discrimination, rejection, and violence I have experienced in my life. My goal is to help grow and learn ways of creating a thriving environment for Pacific Islander LGTBQI individuals.

We started with a few but now we are growing. All the successes in all these years would not have been possible without the strong support of our community, and it's impossible to look into the future with you. There are so many more who will depend on us - you and me and UTOPIA - for help at the toughest of times in their lives. We know that our communities will need ongoing support to make it through the unpredictable and unsafe times that lie ahead.

Showing up and investing in our community is, ultimately, an act of hope and love. And that hope, and these leaders, is what will continue to inspire the change that will transform movements and transform lives.

To celebrate 10 Years of UTOPIA Seattle, I want to ask you to consider making an investment in this future that we are building together.

Whatever amount you decide is meaningful for you, or whether you donate $10 or $100 for every year since 2009, I want to thank you for your support - now, and over the past 10 years. Together, our courageous acts of hope and displays of resistance are what will ultimately reverberate out to create the future where we can all be who we are, where we are.

We not only believe a better world is possible - we believe that together, we can make it happen in our lifetimes. Thank you for all the love!

Courtesy of UTOPIA Seattle

Tell a friend:

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Celebrating 10 years of UTOPIA Seattle!
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