Errin Vuley, 1974-2009, Presente!

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errin1(APN) ATLANTA — Many Atlantans in the progressive community are experiencing shock and grief after Errin Jade Vuley, the 35 year-old activist was killed in a car crash on Tuesday, November 17, 2009.

A Ford Explorer struck Vuley’s minivan while she was driving down Memorial Drive, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution newspaper’s website. Three others were injured in the crash, in which charges are pending. The details are not immediately clear, but police are looking for a white or light-colored Chevrolet Impala or Caprice, which suggests the Explorer may not have been at fault.

Vuley served as Community Services Coordinator for the Feminist Women’s Health Center from 1997 to 1999, according to her LinkedIn profile. She then served as Director of Organizing for NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia from 2000 to 2001.

Vuley served as Executive Director of Georgians for Choice from 2001 to 2006. Paris Hatcher and Mia Mingus took over as co-directors that year, and then a couple years ago, the organization changed its name to SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!errin2

Multiple activists credit Vuley for helping GFC transition into the organization it has become today, with a more diverse membership and a broader issue focus noting the interconnectivity between reproductive justice and many other social justice issues. GFC had started as the unofficial political arm of GARAL, NARAL Georgia, and Planned Parenthood of Georgia, but has evolved a great deal in the last few years.

“Errin was pushing Georgians for Choice to be more inclusive of trans and queer youth, to drag the choice community into the new movement, which is now reproductive justice, which is much more holistic and much more inclusive,” Juliana Illari, an Atlanta activist, said. “In my opinion, she was one of the first voices to even be saying that.”

“Yes she looked like a sorority girl: blonde and blue eyed… [But her views] put her somewhat in conflict with some of the mainstream 50-plus year-old, White women. They didn’t want to deal with queer youth, they didn’t know what that was,” Illari said.

errin3“Paris and Mia are of that generation as well. Maybe they present that more visually [than Vuley] because they’re women of color,” Illari said.

“Errin was tickled when GFC kind of tranisitoned into SPARK, and moved from one set of women to another set of women. Sometimes it’s hard for people to move forward with changing ideals in a positive way. She remained very open and receptive and even played a part in that,” Darlene Hudson, an activist with Atlanta’s Black LGBT Coalition, said.

“A lot of time, when things are evolving or changing, some people can get caught up in, that’s not what it was originally. Errin knew it had to be women’s issues, that it couldn’t be one piece- reproductive health. She shared that, she was part of the evolution that took place there,” Hudson said.

After working at GFC, Vuley served at Director of Communications, then Interim CEO of GOAL, a nonprofit organization which provided activities for girls, including “girl-specific, proactive programming that promotes self-esteem, self-awareness and respect for individual differences,” according to its website.

“As GOAL shifts our focus from direct service to organizational social change, I am leading this organizational change, restructuring staff, and managing this important organization through a challenging economy,” Vuley wrote on her LinkIn profile.

Her most recent job was as Director for Major Gifts at the Points of Light Institute, a group dedicated to multi-discipline advocacy for volunteerism and civic engagement. Vuley had started this job almost one month ago.

Vuley’s open-mindedness and willingness to live outside paradigms was evidenced in her marriage to Dana Prosser, which crossed boundaries of both race and gender. Prosser is a transgender man [in other words, a female-to-male transgender person].

“Which again had a lot to do with, I could tease Errin, wow, you just love Dana through everything,” Hudson told Atlanta Progressive News. “And that was the nucleus, the basis of the relationship, regardless.”

“You know, when you look at the concepts of love, I think people only once in a lifetime get to meet someone who loves the core of a person, not having to do with gender, with race; it has to do with the essence of the person, and they both found that in each other,” Hudson said.

“To start out with a girlfriend, then end up with a boyfriend, and then have a husband, you know, that’s pretty cool,” Hudson said.

“Some people think I can only have a male for a partner, or I can only have a female for a partner, but to love the core of a person, it’s something to be marveled at I think. I think there’s a lesson in there that can be taught,” Hudson said.

“Errin’s excitement for life was always apparent in her beautiful shining face. She graduated from Cornell University with a BS and from Georgia State University with an MPA. She grew up in the family home in upstate New York, Haystack Farm. Errin loved the outdoors and was especially fond of dogs, cats and horses,” according to an obituary placed by Vuley’s family on the AJC website.

One of her peers at GSU’s MPA program, Eric Gray, remembers her well. “We were both in the MPA program and had several classes together. She worked tirelessly for women’s reproductive rights, and was a huge supporter of equality for all people- in the LGBT community and elsewhere,” Gray, who currently works for the Alex Wan for City Council campaign, wrote in an email to APN.

“She was dedicated, smart, funny and beautiful. She is missed by many. With her help, I made it through the rigorous program. She was a truly special person,” Gray said.

“When anybody met Errin, first of all, she was so outgoing, so friendly, she was just very warm, was very approachable. She just was one of those people that attracted other good people because of her spirit and her genorosity and her accepting and loving manner,” Illari said.

Hudson agreed. “Errin was so much fun too. Sometimes I can be kind of tense and uptight and critical I think, and she would just yank my behind right into the process with, it’s not that serious, come on, we’ll have fun.”

“We met years and years ago in the poetry scene, we did spoken word, so I met her through Cliterati,” Melissa Travis, a PhD student at GSU, recalled. “We did yoga together and we walked our dogs in the Decatur dog park.”

“Errin was vibrant, self-aware, and really really dedicated to making this world a better place,” Travis said. “She was aware of her body, aware of being a woman, aware of being queer, and she worked in GOAL helping girls with their self-esteem because she knew that was how she could impact the world. I love that she followed her beliefs like that.”

More recently, Vuley had been using her Twitter page to promote a Dancing for Self-Esteem program and to profess her love for yoga classes. Vuley also noted her two year anniversary with Prosser.

Memorial services were held Friday, November 20, 2009 at 11am at A.S. Turner & Sons.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

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