Volunteer Spotlight: Tamara

Meet one of our many volunteers, Tamara! Tamara has been volunteering with the DC Center for a number of years and can be seen running the Poly Group here at the Center. Don’t forget to check out her book, It’s Called Polyamory: Coming Out About Your Nonmonogamous Relationships, which is designed to provide support and encouragement for those coming out as poly. She wrote the book “because [she] noticed that though there were a lot of resources for LGBT people around coming out, there was almost nothing about coming out as polyamorous. Poly people face some significant challenges that you don’t find with other coming out processes, for instance the idea of polyamory often brings up people’s past experiences with infidelity.” Keep reading to find out more about Tamara!

Birthdate, Astro Sign.

My birthday is September 26 and I’m a Libra.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Seattle, Washington, moved to Brookline, MA when I was a baby, lived there until I was 12, then moved to Buffalo, NY and went to college at Smith in Northampton, MA. I have been in DC since 1998 so here feels most like home.

When and why did you start volunteering at the DC Center?

I started volunteering for the DC Center in 2011 after someone did a one time only poly discussion and I thought that it would be good for the community to have one more often. I’ve been running groups monthly ever since.

What has been your favorite part about volunteering with the DC Center so far?

I’ve loved all of the groups I’ve done. I’ve developed some deep friendships through the center.

What is your favorite event that the DC Center offers?

I don’t actually go to a lot of events outside of the one that I run… so I’d have to say the poly discussion group is the best.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about the queer community over the years. I came out as bisexual in 1993 and there was still a lot of exclusion of bisexuality from the LGBTQ community at the time. As in there were organizations that didn’t include bi people at all. Over the years I have continued to have moments of feeling excluded because of my ongoing relationships with men and the perpetual sense of being not queer enough. As time has gone on I’ve become more and more aware of the ways in which the community has not served people of color, trans people, and other more marginalized communities. With that said I have seen people at the Center really trying hard to do good work with people outside of the financially advantaged white people who were at the center of the marriage equality movement. I find the work around asylum seekers to be particularly important in these times.

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

I would say some of my queer community heroes are Loraine Hutchins (local bi activist), Robyn Ochs (Bi activist in MA), and actually Chris Donaghue (author and TV personality). Loraine wrote some of the first literature on bisexuality that I found as a kid and that is what enabled me to figure out how to talk about my identity and come out. Robyn was the first one that let me see that this was not just theoretical, there are real live other people who are out as bi. Chris is brilliant and edgy and yet he sat down with me and let me give him hell about what I thought was wrong about his book Sex Outside the Lines. He continues to be an ally in body positivity in Hollywood where that kind of activism is still practically unheard of.

What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?

I think my favorite place in DC these days is my office. Its full of sparkly things and comfy furniture, though I suspect you were looking for another kind of answer.

What is your favorite queer movie?

As far as favorite queer movie, I’m between The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love and But I’m a Cheerleader. I think that shows my age.  I have yet to find a movie that talks about the kind of queer experience that I have lived.

What clothing item is a staple in your wardrobe?

Black dresses are always a staple but I have to say I’m not sure why my fashion taste is important. I’d rather talk about my book. My relationships. My kids. What I’m doing in the world, etc than what I’m wearing.

Who are you most inspired by?

As far as who I’m inspired by I’d have to say Ricci Levy who runs the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Foundation. I love the idea of looking at sexuality and family as human rights and I want us to move forward as a more inclusive movement. As far as DC activists, Cyndee Clay of HIPS continues to work hard for some of those most marginalized people in our community even when it gets really hard. I’m also inspired by Bianca Laureno, Aida Mandulay, Trina Scott and all of the other founders of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network. I love their work and being able to support them.

What is your favorite DC neighborhood?

I would say Dupont is still my favorite neighborhood in the city even though I miss the old days when Lammas (the queer women’s bookstore), Lamda Rising (the other gay bookstore) and the Leather Rack were still there.

What is your go to restaurant and what do you order?

Guacamole from Guapos is my comfort food.

If you could live in any decade (past or future) which would it be and why?

I don’t spend a lot of time in time travel fantasies. Going backwards it was harder for people of color and other marginalized groups. Going forward the earth is being destroyed. Right now Donald Trump is in office. Still the only time that really works for me is right now in this moment. I guess I’ve bought in to all of those mindfulness exercises a little too much.

Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

I hate mornings. I also don’t like to stay up late. Why is this on a binary?

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