I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist family in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1970s and 80s. When I was 18, I came out to my parents, and it went about as badly as can be expected. I left home for a while, but my dad found me and told me to come home, that he loved me no matter what. But, after that day, it became an unspoken rule that anything about me being queer was to be left unspoken. And so we entered into a decade long, dedicated practice of conflict avoidance about anything queer.
In November, 2008 our entire community was defeated when Prop 8 won. It was only then that I found the courage to break my silence, tell my story, and having conversations about why it is so important for LGBTQ people to experience full equality. Bolstered by my group of friends and fellow organizers at the LA LGBT Center, I began participating in a first-ever deep canvass program, going door-to-door to have deep, curious conversations with voters about why they had voted against us.
What I found out was that telling my story was powerful, but so was listening. Through personal connections, we changed people’s hearts and minds not only about marriage but also about LGBTQ people. In 2012 I was lucky enough to be part of a campaign in Maine that put one-on-one conversations and listening at the core of its strategy, and we won.
Today, I am proud to be part of Equality Federation. In 2016 we completed important research with our partners Georgia Equality, Equality Florida, and Equality Ohio that proved that this kind of canvassing--deep conversations about transgender lives--also works to reduce transphobia!
Where you live matters. Our local communities and home states impact so much of our day to day lives—especially for LGBTQ people who face different laws, climates, and policies depending on where they live. In fact, hundreds of policies that affect LGBTQ communities are introduced in state legislatures every year. That is why state and local leaders working for LGBTQ equality are such an important part of our movement as they continue the fight for equality in their home communities. Equality Federation builds leadership and resiliency across the LGBTQ movement as the national network and partner to state-based equality organizations.
Join us today with a $10+ contribution on Give OUT Day! THANK YOU!