By Angeline Acain
Sadly, the LGBTQ community has lost a valuable asset. Kristi Parker, Publisher, Editor and owner of Liberty Press passed away of a stroke on March 10, 2018, she was 49. Liberty Press covered the local LGBTQ news and events of Kansas. A free magazine distributed in Kansas, Parker had been publishing for nearly twenty-five years, launching the first issue of Liberty Press in 1994. With her passing, Liberty Press has ceased to publish.
As a fellow member of the LGBTQ media, I met Kristi in June 2011 when we were part of a press trip in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was able to invite my partner Susan and daughter Jiana on the press trip since the magazine I publish, Gay Parent Magazine, focuses on LGBTQ parenting. My family and I got to know Kristi when we invited her to go kayaking on the Allegheny River during our press trip. We learned she was raising a son named Jack with her ex.
Learning that she was a parent, I thought it would be a great idea to feature her and Jack in Gay Parent Magazine. Our September-October 2014 issue #96 features an article on Kristi and Jack (written by Beverly Prince-Sayward). The article focuses on how Kristi started Liberty Press because of a need to create a LGBTQ community in her hometown of Kansas. This need blossomed after she took a road trip and experienced New York City’s vibrant LGBTQ pride. In a quote from the article Kristi says, “The event was amazing for me. There were so many gay people! I was energized. I attended the Dyke March the night before the big march and ran into Leslie Feinberg and Minnie Bruce Pratt. I spent the whole next day at Central Park watching people and the stage full of inspirational speakers and famous people and bands. We were there for like 14 hours!” Kristi published the first issue of Liberty Press August 1994.
The article also focuses on Kristi meeting her ex Vinnie, their eventual separation, and co-parenting of their son Jack who is on the Autism spectrum. A quote from the article in Gay Parent Magazine describes Kristi’s feelings about parenting: Overall, Kristi has felt that Jack’s special needs have not been too difficult for her to handle. He is her love and her joy and even his quirkiness brings little surprising enjoyments throughout the day. “Just recently Jack was at dinner at a restaurant with Vinnie and he kept almost spilling his drink. Vinnie asked if he needed a sippy cup. He was really put off and said, ‘I think you’re insulting my manhood!’”
Especially in these trying political times, the passing of Kristi Parker and the discontinuance of Liberty Press is a great loss not just for Kansas but also for the entire LGBTQ community. Visit the Facebook page for Liberty Press at https://www.facebook.com/LibertyPressKS.