When local LGBTQ activist Tammie Willis was attacked by a man with a knife outside her Sterling home early the morning of Dec. 9, the experience was all the more terrifying because she was alone.
At a town hall forum held Saturday at the Soldotna Library, she met more of a community than she realized existed on the central peninsula.
“And seeing the outpouring of support and the people who want to make a difference and who really, genuinely want to make the community more open, more accepting and more welcoming and safe for everyone is really, really helping me move forward,” Willis said.
More than 150 people squeezed into the community room at the library, some to share their experiences as LGBTQ people in the central Kenai Peninsula, most to listen to those experiences and show their support.
Willis reported finding a threatening note on her truck, full of homophobic slurs, on Nov. 11. On Nov. 22, she reported someone throwing a rock at her windshield as she drove near Kenai Peninsula College, where she works. Then came the assault Dec. 9. Soldotna Police and Alaska State Troopers are investigating the incidents but have made no arrests.
“I don’t want to stand up here and say, you know, this act of violence is the reason why we should do better, we’ve always needed to do better. And I’m sorry that I had to bring it to attention this way because this is not the way I wanted to do it,” she said. “But now that we have everybody’s attention, I’m really hoping that this community, the people who have gathered in this room here, will help me work to do better.”