I attended my second ever protest this past Sunday. This one really was more of a celebration, just as it was billed. Any anger was channeled into inspirational rhetoric, and the short speeches were effective.
I arrived about 45 minutes after the starting time. (I work on Sundays.) A table was set up in front of the county courthouse, laden with opportunities to write postcards that would be mailed to politicians and to sign posters that would be displayed at other gatherings. I arrived and held up my sign--which in my involvement I forgot to photograph--that reads "Another straight Christian for equal rights for all." It is double the size of my previous sign. As soon as I held it up, a woman approached me with her hand extended and said, "Me too!"
LuAnn Conaty, a PFLAG parent, and I talked for quite a bit. Her story is one I hear over and over again: she believed that homosexuality was a sin until she realized she knew someone who was gay. In her case, it was her son. Knowing and loving someone who is gay led her to explore and deal with her faith issues. She was one of the founding board members of SoulForce.
This was a small and friendly gathering; it appeared that forty to fifty people attended over the afternoon, the most at the midway point. Then Zachary Hart of Indy Impact introduced himself and gave a rousing talk before and after playing a podcast of Obama's HRC speech. Other speakers gave short talks, all of them more inspiring than our president.
The talks that meant the most to me were those that told their stories. LuAnn related her narrative again, this time to the crowd. A young man later sat next to me on the wall and told me about his coming out that ultimately ended well.
The rousing talks have their place, especially for those who need no more reasons to believe. But the stories give us pictures in our heads, and straight people need to hear them first before they will be willing to examine their cultural bias. Heartfelt stories will move them to step out of their comfort zone to reconsider their complacency or prejudice.
You will hear this a lot from me, because I truly believe it is key to the success of the campaign for equality: Tell your story. Tell your story. Tell your story.
I am--mine and yours.