So it's late in the day today at Creating Change, and I'm pissed off at people from Arizona.
Rather intensely so. Here I've encountered a teacher from Coolidge, Alison Davidson from Saga in Tucson, Kim Pearson, who's based out of Lake Havasu, Trudy Jackson and Micheal Weakley from Phoenix.
There's no one here from Equality Arizona. No one from Marriage Equality Arizona. No Arizona Stonewall Dems or Arizona Log Cabin, no East Valley group, no "we are family"...
And yet, over the last several months, I've seen them all talk about how they need certain tools and skills and trick and tips and all that other stuff, and All Of That Stuff is here.
Right now. Going on all around is something that directly affects some major issues that every single org in the Phoenix area and by extension Arizona north of the Gila River has had in the last six months.
The people here are from flyover states. Yes, there's a large New England/DC and California/Northwest group of people, but by and large the bulk of the people I've seen and talked to here are on-the-ground types from flyover country. I'm sitting here right now thinking to myself how much Erica would love this -- she'd be a whirlwind here, tortured because she couldn't take all the workshops I know she'd wanted to take (and so I've been taking some to take home with me).
This is not a schmooze fest. This is not an ego contest here -- although yeah, there's some of that going on. This place is about getting better tools and increasing understanding and finding out that, as individuals, we do not know the best way to achieve things, and that there is no one way to do it.
There are many Trans folk here. They work in all manner of organizations, and few of them work in trans only causes. There are a lot of LGB folks, and most of them are still learning about trans stuff but embracing it when an opportunity comes along. These are people who really do work on the legislation and the campaigns and the fundraising and the media systems and these are the people who have come here to talk about the best ways to get people involved, a constant gripe I hear in Arizona from many different groups.
It's that kind of event.
And what's really, truly exciting is that this place is both young and old. I'm in a narrow minority here -- most of the attendees are 15 to 20 years older than me or 15 to 20 years younger than me, and they are all getting along amazingly well, and they are all doing incredible things together and asking great questions and learning stuff from one another.
A few weeks back, a large number of leaders from all over the state but mostly Phoenix based orgs got together, and we talked about a lot of stuff that we were doing right and wrong, and in just the last two and a half days, I've seen examples of everything we've talked about in terms of solutions to problems and ways to improve the things we do well already.
And I won't be able to remember it all, nor am I in a position to make a change there. That really bothers me, because our local orgs -- the grassroots, so to speak, the local level contacts that are supposed to be the ones that are really getting things done -- apparently are not interested in working with each other (too many interpersonal conflicts), learning new ways to do things, or improving things they already do.
In talking with perfect strangers, I'm hearing about the recent "implosion of EQAZ." I'm hearing about the "failure of the marriage team." I'm hearing about the "petty infighting."
These are people who do not live in Arizona. These are people who look at folks like John McCain and Jeff Flake and *laugh* at us, ignoring people like John Kolbe, Harry Mitchell, Kyrsten Sinema, and Raul Grijalva.
It's really annoying to me.
Now, I could point out that I'm a trans person, and I focus on trans issues and I work on trans stuff and I talk about trans things, but here's the bottom line: Phoenicians are not only not tied into the larger issues of the LGBT communty, they aren't even tied into their own.
And that's got to change. Now.
There are H.E.R.O. members here all over the place. And when you talk to them you hear stories about how at one time they had the same issues in their communities -- communities which are, on a day to day basis, far worse than anything we might face in Mesa or Peoria or Phoenix, in terms of sheer number of people who are being discriminatory.
And what it's making me see is that I'm am ashamed of the wider Phoenix community, with one single exception: the trans orgs. Those are what are represented here. Arizona TransAlliance is here, TransMentors International is Here, TYFA is here, River Rainbow Pride is here.
I came here to learn to create change, and what I'm discovering is that back home, it's all about creating static.
And that's bad.
Not only bad, that's shameful. On the parts of all of the orgs. All of them.
Because they aren't tied into the wider network of what is the Movement.
And they should be.
The NGLTF offers scholarships every year. They work very hard to make arrangements for people. So its not an excuse to say, "Oh, I couldn't afford it." I make less than any of the activists I know and I got here -- and that's was in no small part due to the kindness of others.
Who were kind because I am engaged at this level and I do try to bring it back home.
Today in the State of the Movement Address, Arizona was mentioned. It was mentioned because we -- and by we, I mean all of us, in all of our organizations, regardless of what their missions might say -- have a battle that must be fought, and it must be fought now.
We must stop the adoption limitations bill.
How we, as separate organizations, do that is up to the different organizations. There is no one right way to do so. But, above all else, we must keep in contact with each other, and we must leverage our national contacts to help with this because they will help if they see us all working towards the same goal, even if while doing so we don't work under a single banner.
The banner is meaningless and without value or merit. It means nothing. What means something is success, and we must find a way to succeed on this, using everything single idea and resources at our disposal and not saying no to any of them.
God forbid anyone want to crap on me when I get home for writing this. This is truth, even if I don't like to say it and they don't want to hear it. There is no more "Well, I don't like that gal because she did this" or "That guy is nuts so I won't work with him."
If you care about marriage, this is your fight because marriage is about family, and a great many families seek to adopt.
If you care about a part of the valley, this is your fight, because it affects your part of the valley.
If you fight for the whole state or you are involved in politics, this is your fight because this is a political issue and it must end now.
So, Arizonans, get over your insular differences, and roll up your sleeves.
We've got work to do.