As the sun sets on my time with you, I’m happy to report some excellent candidates have stepped forward to be considered for the editor position, and interviews are being scheduled. The Options board of directors is looking forward to soon announcing its pick, and launching a campaign to celebrate Options’ 40th anniversary, coming in 2022.
I feel compelled to recognize Options Board Chair Mike Marrapodi as the unsung backbone of this organization. Without his fiscal oversight, meeting facilitation, and inspiring dedication, Options would likely screech to a halt. Admittedly I envisioned an earlier departure for myself while expecting my second son in July 2020. But as the pandemic persisted and volunteer participation understandably waned, I silently resolved to stick by Mike’s side through Covid, thinking: Just a few months more, right? But that baby started walking early, and something had to give. I explained to Mike my exit strategy, knowing it would increase his burden. His reaction of kindness, understanding, and support will stay with me always. I had deeply feared he’d want to pack it in too, but thankfully he felt he had “been entrusted with an important community institution” and saw a path forward. My wish for Options is that this community will support Mike and the other fabulous Options volunteers on that path for many, many years to come.
Your next editor will inevitably be challenged to cultivate the next generation of Options readers. In a recent meeting of the Options Editorial Advisory Committee, we concluded that Options must be a place where it’s ok to have difficult conversations within the values of inclusivity and visibility. Queer people have varying perspectives about the vast and complex issues we face. Many of us long to see swift political and cultural change, and Options can help move the needle by meeting community members where they are, and respectfully exploring issues without shaming people or repeating hate speech. Rather than being a purely journalistic endeavor, part of Options’ charm has always been that community members’ voices shine through, like the talented Kwana Adams who explored Haus of Codec’s monthly outdoor marketplace and performances in her new piece. I hope people who simply enjoy writing as Kwana does feel like they have a space at Options to express themselves and hone their craft.
As for me, I’ll continue to volunteer with Options, redistribute my time toward family and other jobs, and experience our community outside of a formal leadership role for the first time. Shortly after graduating college, barely out of the closet, I came to RI’s LGBTQ+ community as the organizer for Marriage Equality RI, and after a few years there followed a decade of office management for RI Pride, which overlapped with my time at Options. For over 17 years, I’ve most often found myself as the lone staff person working under volunteer boards of directors, while coordinating other volunteers to carry out the good work of these LGBTQ+ nonprofits. The best part of it all has been being surrounded by committed people, giving of themselves for the greater good. I love volunteers. My heartfelt thanks goes out to anyone who has ever contributed in any way, or lightened my load. I hope to see you out there again soon.