There's been a lot going on lately and I haven't gotten a chance to talk about something that's very important to me. On Sunday night I was witness to a remarkable and empowering experience.
A little background...
I truly and deeply believe that the only way we're going to win the fight for our rights is with the grassroots. We need the people. We won't win this with only LGBT people but we definitely can't win this without them either. I think we need to all be talking to not only each other, but our allies, neighbors, friends, business associates, and - hell - even the postal carrier or fast food workers.
I think that aspect of our movement hasn't been as fleshed out as fully as it could be. I remember the time we were working on the human rights ordinance and 22 organizations came together to help pass the ordinance. But now with SJR-7 sailing through the state senate and headed to the house, the hate crimes bill waiting on second reading, and the civil rights bill seemingly not gaining traction, most of the organizations and individuals that worked so hard together weren't maintaining that same level of contact and cooperation. That is a travesty. It's time to get off our asses and get to work. This is crunch time.
And so early last week I sent out an e-mail (in my capacity as the IAN president) to the folks who were involved in the HRO and some other individuals I knew would be interested or helpful in our current situation. Boulevard Place Cafe opened their door and kitchen to us (even though they are usually closed on Sunday nights) and we filled the room. About 30-40 people came to talk about what we - as a community - could do to help fight SJR-7 and support the hate crimes bill.
A couple local bloggers, critics of the local gay organizations, and concerned LGBT and allied Hoosiers attended as well as representatives from Jesus MCC, Indiana Equality, INTRAA, HRC, Stonewall Democrats, Log Cabin Republicans, PFLAG and Indiana Action Network. Indianapolis City-County Council members Jackie Nytes (D) and Scott Keller (R) attended and asked the community to pull together again for this difficult time - and they both stayed to help work on the problems we're facing.
And then, we talked. And we listened. We explained what our groups have been doing and we asked how we could support the other groups. We talked about what areas were currently lacking, how we could help build support for the cause, and, most importantly, we agreed that for right now we have to put our differences behind us and concentrate on the end goal. There was, literally, no agenda - just a community conversation.
I have a family to protect. They are the most important part of this to me. SJR-7 will affect us directly. I will do what I must to defend my family. I will fight with every breathe in my body against this horrible amendment and the delegitimization of my child and my love. I will not be swayed by the bullshit arguments and "pissing on trees" that has happened so many other times in Indiana's past history of LGBT organizing. And so I moderated the meeting to bring back to the table as many folks as I could grab in less than a week.
And now I want you. I want your friends. I want the groups you belong to - whether LGBT or not. I want your neighbors and employers and that cousin you usually don't talk to anymore. And since the folks who attended Sunday's summit agreed to meet again in a couple weeks to talk some more and come up with more concrete action items we could all participate in, I think that this summit will be the most important one. It's where the rubber meets the road. And I want all of you there. We need this.
Please forward this post/e-mail around the internet. Let's get folks out and talking to each other. It's time to mobilize.
March 4, 2007
Boulevard Place Cafe (42nd and Boulevard Place - near Butler University)
Let's get to work. We can do this - together.