February 17, 2011 | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Queery: Julie Hawkins

(Photo courtesy of Hawkins)

Julie Hawkins is board president for D.C. Metro PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and as a Northern Virginia resident, she’s excited about Loudoun Out Loud, a new PFLAG-helmed support group for gay teens and their parents.

The group will meet on the fourth Sunday of every month from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church (22135 Davis Drive) in Sterling. After a kick-off party in January, the first session is Feb. 27. Anyone can attend. It’s one of 10 support groups for gay and trans teens PFLAG hosts throughout the D.C. area.

Hawkins says the group was planned before the reports of teen bullying and suicides in the last few months but those reports gave it an urgency.

“There was a real cry for this type of group in Loudoun County for a long time,” Hawkins says. “Most of the high schools there don’t have GSAs (gay/straight alliances) and even one of our board member’s daughter, who’s a straight ally, has experienced bullying there just for supporting LGBT kids.”

Parents can attend and sit in on the discussion or have their own discussion with a PFLAG facilitator in another room at the church. Teens — middle or high school — can attend with or without their parents. For more information, visit pflagdc.org.

Hawkins, a 37-year-old Arlington resident, grew up in Mankato, Minn. Her Navy career was cut short just before she planned to reenlist in 1998 when she was kicked out under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Stationed in Hawaii at the time, she did odd jobs there for a year and a half, then moved back to the D.C. area where she’d been from 1993 to 1995.

She now works for an online K-12 education company in Herndon where she hires teachers. She got involved with PFLAG and has been on its board for the past three years because she wishes something like it had been available when she came out at 18.

Hawkins met her girlfriend, Barb Brueggemann, at work. They’ve been dating about six months and are planning to move in together soon. Hawkins enjoys nature photography in her spare time and, until she broke her ankle three months ago, she was an avid runner, a hobby she is slowly returning to now.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I have been out since I was 18, so almost 20 years now! Telling my immediate family was the hardest for me because I feared the possibility of being rejected. I feared they would see this as a disappointment or a negative, something that needed to be hidden. I feared not being loved and accepted for who I was.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Portia de Rossi

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

Tracks!

Describe your dream wedding.

Being married in a church, because of what it symbolizes, and having a small gathering of my and my partner’s family and our closest and dear friends to witness this grand event.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Animal rights and environmental conservation.

What historical outcome would you change?

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Ellen DeGeneres coming out on her show.

On what do you insist?

Stopping the senseless bullying, equal rights and acceptance of all LGBT persons is a must! As Metro DC PFLAG’s board president, these are things that speak loudest to me and what we as an organization are most committed to. We have an obligation to make sure they feel safe and accepted in their homes, their schools and in their communities.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“I Knew It”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I would want to make all those that want to “change” us LGBT.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I believe there is a higher power, higher than us. I do believe you go beyond yourself when you die where everyone there is equal no matter who you were in your life.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Be the change you want to see by getting active in your local communities and schools to help educate and create a safe environment for our youth.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Not having been discharged from the Navy on DADT.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That all lesbians are handy with tools and all gay men know about fashion.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Milk”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

The handshake. Many people feel the need to do this when they meet someone for the first time and even after the first time meeting someone, especially if they only remain acquaintances.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The dog tags from when my father served in the Army, my stepfather’s dog tag from serving in the Navy and my own dog tags from having served in the Navy.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I honestly can’t think of anything. I feel pretty blessed with how things have turned out and how I’ve navigated through life so far, especially in what I have been able to learn through family, friends, colleagues and even strangers.

Why Washington?

This is the heart of it all! This is where change can be heard and changed at the highest of levels. This is where I can do my best work and advocacy for Metro D.C. PFLAG as their board president and where I can continue to rally behind efforts like stopping the bullying in our schools, DADT and marriage equality.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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