Friday 183

Bonnie Tinker

Filed under: Politics, Portland, Society — Tags: , — zundel @ am

I feel a sudden and painful loss, leaving a gaping hole in my fabric of Portland. I don’t know how to describe the absence. She wasn’t a friend. If I flatter myself, I could have once called her colleague and ally: rarer than a friend. I enjoyed working with her.

She made a fierce ally. I remember sitting with her privately at Friends’ in July ’04 and frankly discussing the stark chance of defeating Measure 36. I remember her the year before in that same room trying to add her integrity and realism to the amorphous coalition opposing the invasion of Iraq.

The following quote from her exemplifies the mind and character we have lost:

It is a stark reminder for me that life is easier for sexual minorities of all backgrounds and definitions because other minority groups have struggled for centuries against discrimination. It is often simpler to consider homophobia by itself, to want to work only on “gay issues.” It is simpler, but it is dishonest. Sometimes those of us who are white become so consumed with the injustice we experience that we forget the many ways that white privilege lightens our load.

She wasn’t always easy, but she was often right. I remember her seriousness: the thought and effort, the dedication she applied when something mattered to her. I remember her well informed sharp intelligence and the integrity of her character.

Bonnie Tinker” by Altaira H 2009-07-04

Remembering Bonnie Tinker” by Eileen Flanagan from her blog “Imperfect Serenity” 2009-07-03

Bonnie Tinker – Love Makes A FamilySpirit In Action audio interview by Mark Judkins Helpsmeet 2006-08-06

Queer politics: Local and sustainable?” by Bonnie Tinker in The Portland Alliance July 2006

Language to open hearts and minds” by Bonnie Tinker in The Portland Alliance April 2006

We can’t force people to believe that discrimination is wrong, that the planet needs our protection, that marriage rights are human rights, that war is not the answer. But we can use words in a way that creates the possibility of change by unilaterally disarming our own speech.

20/20: Young Men with Gay Moms” by Alice Irene Pifer from “20/20” ABC News 2004-09-30

Tinker v Des Moines

A video that shows Bonnie’s charm and substance:



  1. She was dedicated, serious, loyal, and joyful — to a fault.


    Comment by Eric Bagai — Friday 183 @ pm

  2. Cyclist killed at Virginia Tech remembered for devotion to activism” WDBJ 2009-07-03

    Tinker is survived by her wife of 32 years, Sara Graham.

    Even in death, Bonnie succeeds in making change. She fought for things like the simple dignity of the quoted sentence.

    Comment by zundel — Friday 183 @ pm

  3. Echoing Altaira, I remember when Bonnie first walked into the anti-war coalition meeting at Friends’, a building more her home than ours. She said something about not feeling sure she or someone like her was welcome. I made some noise of agreement. She meant queer.

    She had walked into the most ageist, sexist, homophobic, and racist group of liberals I’ve ever had the displeasure of working with. Some mistaken idea of appealing to suburban soccer moms pervaded. There were good people but there was also too much tolerance of intolerance.

    Politics frustrates and may punish those who’d rather work than promote. Though sometimes prominent and occasionally controversial, Bonnie and Love Makes a Family did a lot of work with little notice. Her lack of fame proved a political liability.

    Bonnie appeared to wear her political scars with grace. Perhaps with reflection I can learn that from her. She’s not done teaching me. I suspect she has just begun.

    Bonnie reminds me to have the courage to love.

    Comment by zundel — Saturday 184 @ pm

  4. Bonnie Tinker, Still Opening Hearts” by Eileen Flanagan from her blog Imperfect Serenity

    The mortician nodded and checked the box. “Spouse’s name,” he asked, using the gender-neutral noun, a gesture appreciated by those present. “Sara Graham,” they answered, and he wrote the name with a nod.

    Comment by zundel — Saturday 184 @ pm

  5. audio interview
    Bonnie Tinker – Love Makes A FamilySpirit In Action audio interview by Mark Judkins Helpsmeet 2006-08-06

    Comment by zundel — Wednesday 188 @ am

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