The Living Room
When Carloyn Russel's daughter Amanda “came out” 12 years ago as lesbian at the age of 14, she was in emotional and psychological pain. She was suffering from feeling unsafe and unwelcome because of her sexual identity due to homophobic comments, slurs, and in general, a feeling of unsafety in her community.
Her parents searched for resources for her close to home, only to find that there were virtually no places for her to go to “hang out” that felt welcoming and safe in the county. Through PFLAG in Clackamas County, Carolyn worked with R.E. Szego to plan an annual alternative prom for GLBTQQ Youth and their allies in the county. The first year 40 youth attended, the second year 80, and the third year 100!
Carolyn and R.E. soon realized that there was a huge need for a safe space for GLBTQQ youth in the county, so Carolyn and R.E. attended a youth services meeting to see if there were any services already being provided for queer youth in the county. They were told that “there must not be very many gay, lesbian, bi, trans kids in the county because we hardly hear about or see them through our agencies”. Carolyn and R.E. took one look at each other and decided to take action! They held a community organizing meeting in the basement of the Unitarian Church in Oregon City....20 people showed up. From there they formed a board of directors and The Living Room was off and running. Today The Living Room is alive and well, and growing!
The Living Room is an organization with a stable and well-defined infrastructure that creates safe spaces through community education and collaborations. Using youth/adult partnership model, we offer accessible programming and resources that encourage the personal growth and leadership skills of GLBTQQ youth and their allies.
Community Engagement Coordinator
Engagement and Outreach Committee Chair