By LESLIE KELLY
She’s most well-known for writing the course for “Same Love,” a current hit song of hip-hop artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Mary Lambert, the Seattle-born signer, songwriter and spoken word artist has, for several years, been a spokesperson for gay rights.
In her latest show of support, Lambert will perform a benefit concert for Kitsap Q-Youth Resources on Sept. 6, 8 p.m. at Seattle Town Hall in downtown Seattle.
Her performance came about by chance, said Deborah Welch, Q-Youth board president.
“We were wanting to do a fund-raising concert,” Welch said. “Our former executive director (Kim McKoy) said she had a loose connection to Mary and maybe we could get her to perform. It was more a ‘friend of a friend’ thing and we didn’t think we had a chance, but we said ‘Let’s try.’”
A few phone calls and it was set. Lambert agreed to perform to help raise funds for the nonprofit that provides resources to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and straight ally youth from ages 13 to 20.
“Because she (Mary) speaks to the youth that we represent, this is a real meaningful event for us,” Welch said.
Lambert, 24, has been performing for about two years. Her words come from a difficult childhood that included sexual abuse and depression. Her mother came out as a lesbian
when Mary was 6 years old. Mary came out as a lesbian at 17. She sang with Macklemore and Lewis on their album “The Heist” in October 2012.
Q-Youth Resources grew out of the Kitsap County HIV AIDS Foundation as a way to serve LGBT youth. Q-Youth has been helping LGBT and ally youth since Jan. 1.
According to Krystal Bradley, youth coordinator for Q-Youth, youth who know they are gay or are questioning their sexual identity, and straight youth who support gay youth, are welcome to a Friday evening safe event every week, sponsored by the organization.
There are also workshops, support groups, dances, and other events for youth.
“We network with the gay student associations at the area schools,” she said. “We try to provide a safe place for gay youth to be with others and to learn more about themselves.”
The Friday evenings also provide youth a place where they can be themselves.
“Some of the kids who show up are out,” she said. “Some aren’t. Some haven’t told their families and they just need a place where they can be themselves until they feel comfortable being who they are.”
Adults who support them and their lifestyle are there to help the youth as they determine their future, she said.
There may only be a handful who attend some weeks. Other weeks there are a few dozen. But the youth who come are listened to, and supported, Bradley said. And that’s something that she grew up without.
“I graduated from Central Kitsap in 1999,” she said. “My mother is a lesbian and I was raised by her and her partner. Back then, there was nobody I could tell, not even my best friends. It was just something that people didn’t accept.”
Having experienced that, she decided to try to help other youth who have identity issues, or who have family situations that can be difficult. After getting her human services degree from Western Washington University, she went to work for Q-Youth.
“As I got older, I realized that I couldn’t be silent anymore,” she said. “I knew I had to be involved in making the world more accepting of everyone.”
Welch’s story is similar. She recalled that high school friends of her’s who were gay couldn’t express who they were when she was in high school.
“They didn’t have a place to go,” Welch said. “Some of the people I love the most had to live by not being who they really were. That’s just not right. All youth need to have resources and that’s why I had to support this organization.”
She’s been board president for five months and works full time as an advisor for the vocational program at Olympic College in Bremerton. Being on the board, she knows that the funding for the organization depends on events such as this concert and other donations.
“There’s no more county, state or federal funding,” she said. “So that’s why these events are so important.”
Lambert (www.marylambertsings.com) received the 2011 Seattle Poetry Slam award, the 2012 West Coast Regional Poetry Slam award, and a 2013 MTV Video Music Award for “Same Love.”