Ashton P. Woods

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, I learned early on that not all grassroots work in the community is subtle and controlled by RESPECTABILITY POLITICS. In this environment I learned how to be straightforward and upfront when confronting any issues that pertains to any type of rights violations that one may encounter.  As soon as I was old enough to express my thoughts, and my feelings, I dove in headfirst. My first act of activism came when I was fifteen as a freshman in high school. One day, I was reading the local newspaper and there was an article about a teacher at my school coming out of the closet to fight homophobia among faculty and staff. I actually called the teacher and offered my support, which led to a meeting on one fateful day that would change my life forever. A group of us students got together with that teacher and established a club, a gay – straight alliance called the Student Alliance For Equality.

It was during that meeting in which we filmed a commercial for the morning newscast that was broadcast over cctv to the student body during homeroom. When the camera started to roll, the person who was supposed to speak froze and for some reason, I began to speak his lines! “Hi, my name is Ashton woods and I am a member of the Student Alliance For Equality, If you are Gay, Straight, or Bisexual come and join us in a safe space. We are a family.” It was in that moment that I knew that my life would change forever, and so it did. Not long after, I became a homeless LGBT youth and it never stopped me from fighting, volunteering and participating in what I felt would progress the Black LGBT community. In my desire to effect change, I aspired to practice law and joined an after school program called Street Law.  It gave those of use who wanted to work in the field of law the opportunity to try or defend real cases involving offenders in our own age bracket.

By the time I was twenty, I had left my mark on many people and organizations. I had joined the United States Army and protested Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. While my little move in a large organization made little no ripple effect, I did my part. Unfortunately, I was discharged for being out and loud about my being Gay. I moved past it and went on to deal with triumph and tragedy; one big tragedy came in the form of Hurricane Katrina. It was during this storm that what I had already known was re-enforced, Black lives are valued less than White lives. So over the last fifteen years, in some way shape or form I have fought and stood for the rights of all and more specifically the Black LGBT community.

More recently I have been part of movements to pass the Houston Equal rights Ordinance, Black Lives Matter and I have organized rallies and marches that were centered around intersectionality. I have a very “in your face approach” which is either loved or hated, I’m more Malcolm than Martin. I am currently in the process of completing my undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Houston – downtown.  Upon completion I will work toward attaining JD and a PhD in Sociology. My field(s) of study work hand in hand with my interest in intersections of race, law, gender and sexuality.  Finally, much of what I present will be centered around specific issues of Blackness, Race, Gender, Sexuality, Black Feminism, Race Studies, HIV/AIDS, White Supremacy, Radical Politics, and privileges that many possess.

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