By Carol Lindsay, The Tribune
Lincoln Parkin wants to live in a world where there is no discrimination, no bullying and people are accepted for who they are.
Rather than just dream the 18-year-old is working to create a corner in his own world where acceptance is the norm.
As president of Weber High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance club, Parkin works to promote fair treatment for all students, no matter their sexual orientation, race or religion. He is also an active member of the Ogden OUTreach Center, a program that focuses on creating a safe and welcoming community for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and youth and their allies. After learning about the “Pink Dot” campaign through the OUTreach Center, Lincoln worked to encourage Utahns to speak up for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends and family members as part of the “Pink Dot” effort.
“I felt there is a need for a place for kids to go and be accepted. I think everyone needs to be accepted, not necessarily for what they do, but for who they are as individuals. Lots of youth don’t feel accepted in their family or at their school. I advocate helping people. I know how it feels to be different and to feel like I have to act differently depending on who I’m with” Parkin said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah selected three high school seniors in Utah, including Parkin, to receive the organization’s 2012 Youth Activist Scholarship. The recipients received a $1,000 scholarship in recognition of their commitment to civil liberties through activism.
Parkin is reaching out to the community.
“The most important thing Lincoln has done is to be honest and open about who he is. He spoke movingly at our last community forum, saying that he used to be homophobic, but now has learned to accept himself and others. Honesty like that changes not only the community, but the world,” said Reverend Marian Edmonds, the pastor at City of Hope in Salt Lake City.
Parkin has learned to stand up for himself and others.
Edmonds said she was most proud of Parkin when he accepted his Rotary Award.
“He wasn’t content to say, in front of a packed room of Rotarians and school personnel, ‘President of the GSA,’ but to spell it out — ‘President of the Gay Straight Alliance.’ Lincoln has courage and directness that inspires all of us who know him.”
After having a gay friend commit suicide, Parkin increased his efforts to take a stand against bullying and suicide.
“The gay straight alliance is a place where anyone can come and feel accepted. A lot of parents are concerned that the GSA is not good, but in reality it decreases homophobia. I am trying to educate the educators that this is a good thing. It doesn’t matter what members views are,” Parkin said. “It’s just a place where they feel accepted.”
A self-proclaimed “music activist,” Parkin uses his passion for singing to work toward the goal of equality for LGBT people. Parkin plans to continue his dedication to music and activism at Westminster College.
Julie Van Orden, a teacher and Gay Straight Alliance adviser at Weber High School, describes Lincoln as friendly and outgoing but says his greatest asset is his hard-earned self-acceptance.
“Since Lincoln loves who he is, and it took a while for him to get there, he will continue to reach out to others in an effort to spread respect, justice and civil liberties,” Van Orden said. “For Lincoln, activism is not just a cause; it is his life.”