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Characters Unite Award Winners

Gabi Clayton


Gabi Clayton is an activist and community leader who has made it her life's work to combat intolerance and homophobia. Gabi began her mission in honor of her son, Bill, who came out to the family as bisexual at age 14. While Bill was loved, supported and celebrated by his family members, in 1995 when he was 17, after surviving a vicious hate crime based on his sexual orientation, he killed himself a month later.

Gabi has been at the forefront of harnessing the power of the Web to reach young people. In 1996, when the Internet was just beginning to be accessible via home computer, she taught herself Web design and published a single page with a dedication in memory of her son. Today, Gabi still maintains the now robust site and has heard from thousands of young people and adults around the world who face harassment, intimidation, bullying and hate crimes.

In 1996, Gabi built the first Web site for Safe Schools Coalition, an international public-private partnership in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, that helps schools around the world become safe places where every family can belong, where every educator can teach, and where every child can learn, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Today, she serves on Safe Schools Coalition law and policy team and represents the Coalition on the Washington State Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Work Group, convened by the state legislature to develop, recommend, and implement strategies to improve school climate and create respectful learning environments in all public schools in Washington. The coalition website which Gabi built and continues to maintain has grown to nearly 600 pages and in the 12 months ending in February 2013 it served visitors from more than 100 nations and every U.S. state with close to three quarters of a million page views.

Gabi is also co-founder of Families United Against Hate (FUAH), offering emotional support, guidance and technical assistance to individuals, families and communities dealing with incidents based on bias; and to the people, organizations and agencies who serve and support them. She is on the board and current chair of Youth Guardian Services (YGS), a youth-run organization that provides support services on the Internet to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, and straight supportive youth between the ages of 13 and 25. In addition, she and her husband have served on the board of PFLAG-Olympia, an ally organization of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. She is also co-clerk of the Olympia Friends Meeting's Peace and Social Justice Committee and a member of Olympia Unity in the Community, a coalition dedicated to organizing positive and pro-diversity educational events and appropriate community responses to the presence of hate groups in the Olympia area.

Born in New York City, Gabi currently resides in Olympia, WA with her husband of 39 years, Alec. They are very proud of their son Noel and his wife Liz, who live in nearby Seattle. Gabi and Alec were honored when the Lennon Piano Project brought the piano that John Lennon wrote "Imagine" on to their home on May 8, 2007 and brought in their friend, singer/songwriter Steve Schalchlin to play the piano to honor their son Bill on 12th anniversary of the day he committed suicide. Seattle filmmaker friend Liz Latham brought the Claytons to Washington D.C. for a reception at the White House after the signing of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009.

Gabi finished her undergraduate studies in art, film and animation at The Evergreen State College in 1989. She then earned a master's degree in counseling psychology from Saint Martin's College in 1993 and is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice. As co-owner of ClaytonWorks, Gabi and Alec design web pages and brochures and logos, and through ClaytonWorks Publishing they publish Alec’s now six novels and a book of art criticism as well as books by others.