Friday, September 28, 2012

Alexander Goodrum-Gone Ten Years

I'd been in Louisville just over a year on this date when Dawn told me the shocking news that Alexander John Goodrum was dead a few days short of his 42nd birthday on October 3.  

I had the sincere pleasure of meeting him during the 1999 Creating Change conference that took place in Oakland, and it was one of the first times since becoming a national activist I'd met one of our African-descended trans brothers and had a chance to talk about trans life and issues from their perspective. 

Alexander was a Chicago native and had been an activist in GLBT organizing and social justice issues since 1980 in Chicago, San Francisco and after moving there in 1996 in Tucson.   He'd been doing some trailblazing work for the trans human rights community and he was one of my early role models.  He was also one of the first people I met who identified with the bi end of it.

In addition to being a dynamic speaker, Goodrum also founded TGNet Arizona, was a board member on the Tucson GLBT Commission, and the Funding Exchange's OUT Fund, which allocates an annual grant named after Goodrum to LGBT community organizing projects.

Goodrum was instrumental in getting Tuscon to include gender identity in their non discrimination law in 1999, and wrote this paper that appears on the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA)  website entitled Gender Identity 101-A Transgender Primer  

But what I and many folks in the national community didn't know about Alexander was he was dealing with some major personal issues that would unfortunately drive him to take his life on the morning of Saturday, September 28, 2002 while under observation at La Frontera Psychiatric Hospital in Tucson.

I couldn't make it to that October 5 memorial service that day, but there isn't a time when I don't think about that handsome smiling guy I met in Oakland that people called 'Bear' and wonder where our community would be on our human rights march if he were still around. 

It's been ten years since his untimely passing, and I definitely want to make sure we never forget this African descended trans man who was a major player in our Black trans history 

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