Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Remembering LGBTQ Activist Andrea Adams

Andrea AdamsAndrea Adams, founder and former director of The Bridge and a local LGBTQ activist, passed away peacefully at her home in South Glens Falls on January 22. Her loving partner Dennis Belden was by her side.

A memorial service was held on January 28 at Saint Andrew Lutheran Church in South Glens Falls, a welcoming congregation of which Andrea and Dennis were dedicated members.

Born on May 28, 1953, in Kenmore, NY, Andrea was the son of William and Jacquella (Devlin) Adams. At Andrea’s memorial service, her sister Jackie Schofield told the story of her big brother who found an injured crow and nursed it back to health. He named it Hercules, and it would ride on his shoulder everywhere he went, and he and the crow would protect Jackie from schoolyard bullies. A 2008 Post Star article quotes Andrea, saying, “In hindsight, they described me as a child who didn’t follow direction very well, but not in a hateful way — a wanderer.”

Andrea began the transition to her female self in 1999, while she was in her mid-forties, following a marriage, children, and a divorce.

An avid reader and student, Andrea attended Adirondack Community College, where she earned an associate’s degree in Psychology in 2004. She studied Human Development at Empire State College from 2008 to 2009, and went on to pursue her Bachelor’s in Psychology from SUNY Plattsburgh.

She founded The Bridge non-profit in March of 2006, and devoted her life to advocacy work on behalf of the LGBTQ community, often working all night on her computer. She had a deep concern for questioning young people, who were bullied and sought opportunities to make a safe place for them to be accepted and have their questions answered.

As director of The Bridge, Andrea established LGBTQ-focused Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, confidential screening programs for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, discussion groups and movie nights. In 2008, she secured a $7,100 grant in collaboration with the Rainbow Access Initiative to start an education program on crystal methamphetamine use in the LGBTQ community. She also secured $50,000 in state and federally supported funding through the Health and Human Services network. Andrea’s dream was to establish an LGBTQ community center in the Glens Falls area and she worked tirelessly toward that goal.

She suffered a stroke in November 2010. The Bridge lives on today, but in a smaller capacity. The board is fully volunteer run. Additional volunteers, donations and awareness are needed to sustain the organization.

Andrea is predeceased by her parents; and her brother Tom Adams. Left to cherish her memory are her partner Dennis; her daughter Amber Hayden; her son Billy Adams; her sister Jackie Schofield, and her husband Brad; her brother Jeff Adams and his fiancé, Lynn; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

An event to celebrate Andrea’s life and commitment to the LGBTQ community is set for Thursday, February 12, 2015, from 6 p.m. to close at Rainer’s at the Ramada, 1 Abby Lane, Queensbury, New York. Andrea’s friends, colleagues and community is invited to gather and informally share memories and raise a glass to Andrea over hors d’oeuvres. Rainer’s will donate 10% of food sales during the event toward Andrea’s final expenses, and donations will also be collected.

This event is also an invitation to the public to learn more about The Bridge and ways to be involved by volunteering, donating, or simply being a part of a welcoming community. Board members will be present with information and invite conversation.

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Kate Austin-Avon owns and operates Advokate, a PR, marketing, and web and graphic design firm located in The Shirt Factory Arts & Healing Center alongside The Advokate Boutique, Kate's shop featuring handmade local goods. She is a mixed-media artist as well, and writes the biweekly Family Time column for the Chronicle newspaper. Kate formerly served on the boards of The Bridge, Inc., NorthCountryARTS and Art in the Public Eye.

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