Public Profile: Kyndra Laughery – RevRising Coordinator, Lotus Rising
When the Messenger requested an interview with Kyndra Laughery, she responded with enthusiasm and also with a quote from Augusto Boal, a Brazilian theatre director, writer and politician and the founder of Theatre of the Oppressed: “It is not the place of the theatre to show the correct path, but only to offer the means by which all paths may be examined.”
A native of Grants Pass and a Southern Oregon University graduate, Laughery is the RevRising Coordinator at Lotus Rising; that is, she works with youth to create peer-to-peer dialogues about healthy relationships. Laughery is also a local performer, one-third of a three person improv group.
RVM: How did you get involved in Lotus Rising?
KL: In 2009 Planned Parenthood needed to let go of its Teen Theater program, so Lotus Rising Project approached their board and asked to adopt the program. I was hired on for the transition and have been on staff since.
RVM: Lotus Rising has gone through changes over its 10-plus years. As the issues, the pressures, and the opportunities change, so need to the organizations working with LGBTQ issues and individuals. How do you describe the current needs, and do you have any predictions for what the next “chapter” will be?
KL: LRP’s main objective has always been, and will always be providing support and social connection for LGBTQ folks in the valley. We started out focused on youth but are beginning to expand our services beyond just adolescence as we’re seeing the need for those services arise.
RVM: You have been politically active with big policy issues. But Lotus Rising also seems to really focus on one-on-one relationships and individuals. Do you find one type of work more satisfying—the macro or the micro-work?
KL: Working with the Rev youth I get the best of both worlds. I get to work with youth on an individual level, empowering them to be peer educators and advocates in their circles of influence. I also get to see them educate the community on issues important to them. I find both types of work satisfying.
RVM: With campaigns like “It Gets Better” and other social media outreach, do you see improvements for LGBTQ youth?
KL: Yes and no. It’s great to see support and connection for the youth over social media, they are able to connect with information and resources that they might not have been able to access without the internet. But, there are still youth in our area that struggle to be accepted in their communities and homes here locally. Youth need to know there are people out there that see them and want to help them reach their full potential as members of their communities and the larger world. It’s 2017! Let’s get with it!
RVM: Is it easier to “come out” in 2017 than it was in 1997?
KL: For some, maybe. Youth do have the ability to connect with people in a way they didn’t in 1997. But I think there are still people who don’t feel safe coming out, that’s why we want to do everything that we can do create inclusive spaces for people to feel safe being themselves.
RVM: If you had five minutes with Donald Trump, what would you say to him?
KL: Well, first I would have to have lots of personal space around me… I would honestly probably blank out in a rage, but I hope I would be able to at least repeat over and over the Love is stronger than Fear.
RVM: Do you have a hero? And/or a mentor?
KL: My heroes are those people that fight for the rights of others, that rise above the odds, and believe in the magic of hope.
RVM: Interestingly, you also are one-third of the Improv group The Hamazons. Is this completely separate from your work with Lotus Rising, or is there a cross-over with some of the work?
KL: Yes!! I use Improv with the youth I work with in Rev Rising. Improv is everything!
RVM: And you have an event coming up, “Zombie Apocalypse.” Can you provide any sneak previews?
KL: We do! We have a show coming up October 20, 21, and 22. What we do is Completely Improvised, which means we make everything up on the spot! We will tell three completely different stories over the weekend: A Zombie Apocolypse in the style of Jane Austen… there will be brains.Other than that, we have no idea what’s in store! But I can guarantee anyone who comes is going to have a lot of fun finding out!
8 pm, October 20, 21, 22, Bellview Grange, Ashland, $15 adv.