Up and coming non-profit organization Equalize has a grand but achievable goal: turn every young music fan into what they call an “Equalizer.”
An Equalizer is someone who is unafraid to stand up to discrimination and speaks with compassion, support, and education. Founder Alex Pakula (Portland, Oregon) believes that “inherently, folks are generally not intending to be malicious or downright hateful when they say homophobic or transphobic slurs; they are just repeating things they’ve heard other people say or they don’t understand why words can hurt because no one has ever told them why.”
With that in mind, Pakula started Equalize in 2009 after finding that there were no organizations that outreached to his community – fans of loud music like punk, rock, metal, and their relatives. No one talked about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. This revelation came to him after attending Warped Tour, a summer festival that features nearly 100 bands, and seeing many other social justice causes represented there. The answer was simple: why not him?
This year, Equalize is ready to do its first big stint on Warped Tour.
Pakula is excited about this.
“This is literally the exact reason I started this organization,” he says. “Going on this tour will allow us to have conversations with thousands of music fans about equality and provide a safe space for people to truly be themselves and to talk about things they might not be safe talking about elsewhere. Sometimes, we are the first queer people that these folks have knowingly met. That moment makes a difference in a young person’s life, whether it’s because they are questioning their own sexuality, or when they have a friend or relative come out later in their lives, or even just when they go to the ballot and have to make a choice to support or deny equality.”
To get on Warped Tour, Equalize has a campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com. They need to raise $2500 before June 24th, and they are currently about 28% of the way there. Like Kickstarter, each donation amount comes with a “perk.” Equalize offers everything from stickers, bracelets, and T-shirts garnering their trademark statement “NO HOMO(PHOBIA)” to an actual spot on Warped Tour with them. To learn more and donate to this worthy cause, head to http://www.indiegogo.com/equalize.
I’m Alex, I’m from Portland, OR, and I’m an activist and musician hellbent on saving the world and rocking out as much as humanly possible. My worlds collide in the organization, Equalize, of which I am founder and executive director.
Also, I’m vegan and I really like to dance.
About Alley Hector
Alley Hector is proud to be a Q, a PDXer and Just Out's Editor-in-Chief.