Editor's Note: You've seen Steven Colbert's "Better Know a Lobbyist," but our version is so much gayer! Each weekend, we spotlight a different TBP contributor. In case you've missed any of our previous interviews, I've got links at the end of the post.
This week we're talking with Steve Ralls, Director of Communications for PFLAG. I just want to say right off the bat that although we've never met in person, I love me some Steve Ralls. He's a devoted Madonna fan. Plus anyone connected to PFLAG holds a special place in my heart.
Steve has been widely quoted on LGBT issues in the media, including in major daily newspapers such as The New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. He has appeared on national and local radio programs from coast to coast, and has also been featured on CNN and in other media outlets across the country. We're lucky to have him posting for us. And I really enjoyed hearing his responses to our BKAC questions.
1. How did you get involved with TBP?
Bil reached out to me while I was communications director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and asked me to submit a guest column about the Pentagon's changing attitudes toward LGBT service members. I submitted the post, and it was love at first site for Bil; he asked me to become a regular contributor.
2. What was your coming out experience like?
I came out when I was 16 and fell in love (or, in hindsight, infatuation) with a classmate in high school. He was the total jock - a biker, a hunter, a bad boy (just like Condaleeza and I like 'em), and I came home one afternoon and announced to my mother that I was in love with a boy. She didn't bat an eye, and never has since. I was, and am, tremendously lucky.
3. Why did you get involved with PFLAG?
PFLAG has the one of the most powerful constituencies in the movement. It's so hard for a lawmaker, or any decision maker, to tell a loving parent that their love for their child is wrong, or that their child is 'less than.' The PFLAG membership is extraordinarily motivated and passionate, and this work for them is personal. They are, quite simply, remarkable.
My work at PFLAG is also in honor of my own mother, and in recognition of the tremendous love and support she has shown me.
4. What's the best thing about your job?
I have the great fortune, every day, or working with parents, family members, friends and straight allies who are driven and determined to make a real difference. PFLAG parents hug me, tell me how much they love this work and want to know how they can do more. I am very fortunate to be able to help tell their stories, get visibility for their heroic efforts . . . and get hugged a lot. You can't discount how much that means.
5. If you could meet Madonna during any time period, which incarnation would it be and why?
Throughout a decade of doing communications and answering questions, this is the most difficult one. I think I would have to choose, however, being on the set with Madonna and Steven Klein as they shot the 'alutian queen' video for the opening of her Reinvention tour. It is a powerful video, with Madonna commanding wolves, dressed up in a uniquely Madonna outfit: a red hoop gown with her face mysteriously covered. It is, like her, regal and universal, mysterious and powerful. And her accompanying version of lines from the book of Revelation is haunting: "Do not fear what you are about to suffer, though the devil is about to throne . . . Behold, I am coming soon. I am the alpha, the omega, the first and the last." It is a mantra we can all take heart in.
6. Favorite thing to do in the summertime?
Visit South Beach with my best friend in Florida and watch the boys sunning themselves while listening to Madonna.
Check out previous interviews with TBP Contributors
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore