Pillars of Pride: Honoring LGBTQIA+ Elders
On May 15, 2022, GenPride celebrated their first annual Pillars of Pride: Honoring our LGBTQIA+ Elders at the Century Ballroom on Capitol Hill. The event featured 12 honorees that were nominated by GenPride and partner agencies.
Also featured was Executive Director Steven Knipp’s update on Pride Place, the new LGBTQIA+ Senior Affirming Affordable Housing currently under construction on Capitol Hill. GenPride is building a 4,400 sq ft condominium on the ground floor of this exciting new project to provide culturally relevant services and support that will include a community gathering space with a commercial kitchen, a health services center, and administrative offices.
With entertainment from the SuperTonics, a keynote address by George Dicks, and the extraordinary Aleksa Manila as the emcee, more than 150 guests were treated to a special afternoon. View the event videorecording here. Prepare to be inspired by the following information about the 2022 Pillars of Pride honorees.
Aaliyah Messiah (POCAAN)
Aaliyah Messiah is a community leader, a trailblazer, and an advocate for both the African American community and the LGBTQIA+ community. As a fierce representative of the LGBTQIA+ community, she and her partner have maintained the last standing African American Book Store (LEM’s) for more than 20 years. For over 31 years, Aaliyah has worked at POCAAN, providing services for people on the margins, including those affected by and with HIV/AIDS. Currently, she manages POCAAN’S SAGE Senior Medical Mobile Services program, providing services at senior centers across King County with mobile health services designed for those with barriers to traditional medical services. At age 70-plus, Aaliyah continues to dedicate her life to those who need help the most.
Joel Aguirre (Entre Hermanos)
Joel Aguirre, a PrEP Navigator at Entre Hermanos, helps members of the Latino community access available health services, with emphasis on outreach to people at high risk of getting HIV. Joel works at Entre Hermanos because he believes that involving yourself in the struggle is the key to creating a socially just world where everyone has the same opportunities. Joel also hosts a radio program called “Mucho Gusto,” which transmits every Sunday at 2 pm on 99.3 FM.
Martha Zuniga (Entre Hermanos)
Martha Zuniga, currently Deputy Director at Entre Hermanos, has worked there for more than 10 years—first as a volunteer, then as a medical case manager, and then as a prevention and care program manager. Martha’s main goal at Entre Hermanos, and in her life, is to support, educate, and advocate for the people affected by HIV, especially those from minority communities.
Malie Tiare Chanel (Utopia)
Malie Tiare Chanel, nominated by Utopia, was born in Fagatogo, American Samoa, and raised in Saleufi, Apia, and Seattle. Her passion stems from cultural upbringing in her village setting, as well as values instilled in her by her grandparents. There were always village events that required participation or contributions. She was taught about sharing with her neighbors, inviting passersby for meals, and helping to distribute food to families in her village during environmental or health disasters. It became a natural thing for her to do back home.
Louise Chernin (GSBA)
Louise Chernin began her involvement with GSBA in the 1990s and was appointed President and CEO in 2002, a role she served in until retiring at the end of 2020. Through her tenure, Louise led GSBA to become the largest LGBTQ+ chamber in North America. The GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund wouldn’t be the program it is today without Louise, having issued over $5 million to LGBTQ+ and allied throughout her leadership of the organization. Her activism stretches across multiple movements, including Vietnam War protests in the 1960s and 1970s, the anti-nuclear movement, the Women’s Rights Movement of the 1970s, and the LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement.
Domenico Minotti (Gay City)
Domenico Minotti is a longtime supporter of Gay City and is in his 11th year as a board member for Gay City. With more than a decade of service on the board and as a volunteer, Nic has provided endless support to Gay City. Whether hosting dinners at his home with homemade Italian meals or offering his expertise in designing health services, Nic has been an incredible asset to the organization and an influential leader in our communities.
Lynda Greene (ALISS)
Lynda Greene is Executive Director at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, located in one of the most diverse zip codes in the nation—98118. Lynda has been a pioneering, proactive, and powerful ally for the LGBTQ community. The Southeast Seattle Senior Center is celebrating over 60 years of providing services, activities, and support to promote self-sufficient and fulfilling lives for aging adults in our multi-cultural community. Lynda was nominated by ALISS (Aging Lesbians of South Seattle) for her tireless support of the LGBTQ community at the senior center.
Breanna Anderson (Ingersoll)
Breanna Anderson is former board member of Ingersoll Gender Center. In the early 2000s, she returned to the Center’s board and launched one of the largest regional needs assessment surveys that had been done to date. This research, including thousands of participants, predated the large national surveys that would follow and helped Ingersoll to understand the evolving nature of our complex community and to serve it more effectively.
Bill Thielman (Seattle Choruses)
Bill Thieleman is a cherished member of the Seattle Men’s Chorus (SMC). He is a founding member and has always brought his cheerful spirit and empathetic heart to their work and community of members of all ages. He has engaged and gently educated younger singing members, helping to enlarge the circle of acceptance and appreciation for our history within our chorus. Even now, Bill is involved in working on a historical archives project for SMC.
Arnaldo Inocentes (Pride ASIA)
Arnaldo Inocentes is a pillar within our community. As an ambassador with Pride ASIA, his history spans decades of advocacy and leadership for the LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities. Arnaldo started as a soloist with the Seattle Men’s Chorus (SMC) and has performed with SMC in some of the major concert halls in the US, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. In 1995, Arnaldo started a group called Cabaret Q, where the “drag chanteuse” persona began. In 1999, Arnaldo began his solo cabaret shows in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and has since performed his one-person cabaret in Portland, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Puerto Vallarta, New York, and Manila.
Dr. Peter Shalit (GenPride)
Dr. Peter Shalit is certified by the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of HIV Medicine. In 1990, Dr. Shalit started practice by taking over the practice of Dr. Henry Kuharic upon Dr. Kuharic’s retirement. In 1991, Dr. Shalit merged his space with the practice of Jeffrey Olliffe, MD, which was next door. In 2015, the practice moved to its current location in Cabrini Tower on First Hill in Seattle. See www.doctorshalit.com.
Dr. Karen Fredriksen Goldsen (GenPride Founder Award)
Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, PhD, directs The Goldsen Institute at the University of Washington. Karen is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar and activist addressing health inequities across underserved, resilient communities. Karen is the founder of GenPride, Shanti Seattle, and Rainbow Research Group of the Gerontological Society of America. Characterized as an international leader in health, aging and longevity research, Karen is the Principal Investigator of multiple landmark federally funded studies, including Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study (R01) the first national longitudinal study of LGBTQ+ midlife and older adult health designed to identify health and wellness trajectories.
This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of AgeWise King County.