Thoughts following the primary election day, 2011

I worked the polls on election day this week for Patrick Dowd who was running for Pittsburgh City Council. It was actually the first time I’ve worked the polls since the Presidential election where John Kerry should have won. It was a cold, raining, and somewhat miserable day to be sitting outside of a polling place all day, but I’m glad I did it for a few reasons.

My topic surfaced for me, from discussions with the other folks who were also working the polls. Through out the day, there were between three and six of us there, but for the majority of the day, there were just two of us. All of these folks were dedicated Democrats and committed to their candidate, yet, I was amazed at the ideas they had on some issues that I find important. It led me to realize how little education is happening between the LGBT community, and some who would be natural (and traditional) supporters for our issues.

Lots of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender folks label themselves as supporters for LGBT rights! Many call themselves activists or advocates, and many have the opinion that we deserve equality. If you believe what you see on Facebook, there are tons of active young queer activists fighting for our rights. Are they too busy posting to Facebook to actually be doing much real work to change the status quo? Or is all their effort focused towards demands and protests? The real work of creating equality won’t come because of those efforts alone. We need many active allies and supporters working with us, and we gather them, through education, not by protesting. So, stop protesting and start educating folks who could be and should be our supporters.

I was working the polls in Lawrenceville, a neighborhood that is in transition. It is being reborn as an artist/ trendy neighborhood with lots of diverse and younger people moving in. But it is still a lower middle class blue collar, white neighborhood. It was in this neighborhood 20 years ago, where I received death threats and hate mail because I was gay.

But today, even with poll workers who have been there forever, my being gay was no problem. These are very strong Democrats, who will not vote against pro-gay Dems, but they could be stronger allies if they knew more about LGBT issues.

The biggest hurdle we face in getting pro-LGBT candidates elected and legislation passed, is the need to get more allies on our side. Potential allies are out there, if we will tJe the time to educate them, and help them understand our issues.

2 Comments

  1. I can’t help but agree on this one, especially considering the pushes to boycott Pepsi, Orbitz because of the television shows they advertise during and now FedEx, AT&T, and a host of others involved with the Tennessee law (all of these companies include extensive LGBT protections in their own policies and strive for diverse work places). ¬†What it really comes down to is motivating other LGBT people to do more, and to bringing in as many straight allies as possible that not only sympathize with us but also know about us and actively work to help us.

    Changing what soda you drink and how you book your hotels won’t do this. ¬†Talking, reaching out, and making connections will.

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