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Native Pride: Arnold Dahl Wooley

arnold and matthew.jpg
Matthew and Arnold Dahl Wooley

He masked his own voice as a teenager. Today he uses it to help teenagers live authentically.

…the things from childhood, you bring them into adulthood…So, how can I help today? Well… I want to make sure that other kids don't go through that. And I want to make sure elders don't go through that. I want to be prepared. I want other people to be prepared and to have this information - to have outreach, to have all the building blocks to make sure that we're in a safe and in an inclusive community, and to have things appropriate for culture and all different ages… I think it's really important… And my parents needed that outreach too, because it's like, well, what does this mean? One of my children is gay? is our life going to change? Is my child going to be safe? Who do we speak to? Should we speak to anybody? It's a powerful and scary moment in your life. – Arnold Dahl Wooley

Arnold Dahl Wooley heard his voice on a tape-recorder and panicked. As a teenager, he toiled at masking the gay-ness he heard in the playback. Today, this member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe has the first same sex marriage recognized by the Leech Lake Tribe and he's made a life-long commitment to use his authentic voice for good. Together, Arnold and his husband Matthew are on a mission to make the world a better, easier, safer place for other two spirit individuals of all ages and their families. Through public speaking, outreach, and community building opportunities, the intent is to create a brighter future for all - where all can thrive. They are part of Pride Support Network, an organization committed to connecting and empowering two spirit people and those who love them with culturally relevant and supportive resources, programs and support groups.

...we can do something today...guidance counselor, you can put a flag outside your office door right now. You can pay attention to what we're talking about on the radio right now...you can listen to it again, play it for a student. And these kids out there, they need to know... Yes, you are respected, you are important, you are special, and you are sacred. You need to make sure that you reach out to the right people. We're online...So you're not alone. You're not alone, and your community is a safe community. You have safe people, and your family may need a little bit of time for adjustment or your community or something, but all the outreach information is here. - Arnold Dahl Wooley Pride Support Network

...my family today is some of the world's biggest advocates for me, for the LGBTQ Plus, two spirit community. They kept their minds open in their hearts, too. That's an important thing to recognize. They realize that I'm still the same person. I was the same person before I told them… I'm just a more genuine person today, because now they know everything. There's no secret. It's like, this is who I am. And when you're coming out, it's very scary. It's like, Will you love me tomorrow? And most of them did. So that's what's important.

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Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. Since 2016, she's produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota. She's our local host of NPR's All Things Considered and CBC's As It Happens every weekday from 4-7pm.