Queer Heroes NW 2021:
Valerie Whittlesey

Valerie Whittlesey has worked for human rights and social justice throughout her adult life.

In Portland, she became the Executive Director of Phoenix Rising, which provided counseling and referral services to the LGBTQ community.  During this time, the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA) was active with their vituperative rhetoric towards the LGBTQ community.

Valerie collaborated with Cascade Aids Project, Outside In and other agencies to mitigate harmful outcomes and to refute the OCA’s actions.  She and those with whom she collaborated also focused on LGBTQ street youth. In most cases, these were youth who had been cast out of their homes and communities when they came out or were discovered to be LGBTQ.  These now homeless youth were subject to much violence on the street and had little to no access to schools or services, factors that sometimes resulted in self-harm.

Phoenix Rising offered support groups and mental health counseling for these youth, focusing on connecting them to services.  It worked with other agencies to sponsor an LGBTQ local youth conference.  There were youth panels on relevant issues, and they were mentored by agency professionals on their presentations. The meeting was packed with teachers, parents, social workers, youth and others. There was also security protection for the conference.  During this time, Valerie was asked to join an ACLU attorney in debating the OCA’s Scott Lively on public broadcasting. 

In the past few years, Valerie has worked extensively with GLAPN. Professionally, Valerie has always been committed to the support of diversity in the workplace in every organizations where she has worked.




Little GLAPN return

P.O. Box 3646 • Portland, OR 97208-3646 •
Copyright © 2020, Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest