Since 1993, Pride Foundation's scholarship program has awarded nearly $4 million to current and future leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and straight ally community from five Northwest states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Katie Carter, Pride Foundation's Regional Development Organizer in Oregon, has posted an interview with one of this year's scholarship recipients: a 24-year-old engineering student who immigrated to Oregon from Iran.
For her safety, this scholar requested anonymity. She explains:
Being queer, a woman, and Baha’i in Persia is more difficult than you can imagine. You want to work? You can’t. You want to study? Impossible. You want to go on a date? It’s illegal. You want to bring your date home? Not an option. What can you do? Nothing!
We have all heard of the United States as “the land of opportunities,” and I feel like I am in heaven. I can do everything — I can hold my partner’s hand without any fear, I don’t have to lie about living with my partner, or who my community is. Being able to be yourself is an incredibly valuable thing. It’s one of those things that you don’t know just how valuable it is until you lose it. No one can take away my happiness and my life because I am now living in a country where I am able to be who I am legally.