When our dear Penny recently resigned, I felt both overwhelmed and humbled by being challenged with leading LAHR into the future. I have big shoes to fill as LAHR’s interim president, but I have confidence that the current projects LAHR has decided to undertake will invigorate us as an organization that can be relied upon by the people who need it most. Stay in touch – many new things are on the horizon.

LAHR has a rich history of being active in the Lansing community on behalf of LGBT people. When they started LAHR in 1979, LAHR’s founding members took on the burden of challenging the Lansing Police Department for its entrapment practices against gay men in the Lansing bar scene (an effort that proved successful). LAHR worked as an advocacy group for those living with HIV, proving to be a steadfast ally in the 1980’s and beyond. LAHR also operated an LGBT hotline for over two decades, and our newsletter, The LGBT News, was published from 1979-2016, and now appears as an insert in City Pulse. I am proud to be part of this narrative.

LAHR is undergoing another growth period. We are maintaining our status as your local LGBT advocacy group while ensuring our board, policies, and focus matches the many needs of our community in 2016. We’re gearing up for a hot summer full of being in conversation with you all – including being more accessible as an organization by collaborating with City Pulse and bringing our long-standing newsletter to the public eye. We hope that this initiative will encourage you to stand on behalf of those both similar and different from you by getting directly involved. You can pursue many avenues of involvement – you can come to our meetings, submit a letter or article to be published here, send in a do nation by becoming a member, or by simply talking to your friends and family about LAHR as a resource.

It is no secret that achieving marriage equality is not the final frontier of civil rights for most of us – the fight for acceptance is far from over. We struggle with employment, housing, health care access, and even appearing in public, among a myriad of other difficulties. Under my leadership, LAHR is your ally. LAHR is asking you to lean on us and ask our assistance. No issue is too small. We will evaluate what we can do, but most importantly, we will listen. We will take great pains to ensure you are heard.

In my previous work, I served as the representative for the Alliance of Queer and Ally Students on Michigan State’s student body government. During my time there, I helped apply pressure to university administration to approve a budget (nearly $70,000) to construct a gender neutral restroom in the Student Services Building. I am also the co-founder and Chair of HUES, LAHR’s new young adult branch. With HUES I have led projects such as The Come Out, an event that reached over 200 people as a collaborative effort between LAHR, HUES, and MSU’s Alliance while showcasing the coming out experiences of LGBTQ people. I also hold a BA in Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in LGBT & Sexuality Studies from MSU and will be pursuing graduate education in the same field in the fall.

A special election will be held in July to permanently put someone in place to finish Penny’s term to October 2016, as I will be leaving to attend graduate school in Boston, Massachusetts. I look forward to bringing LAHR to new things, and also continuing my advocacy and organizing work in Boston.

You can reach me anytime at alysahodgson@gmail.com.

Happy Pride Month to you and yours!