Watching marriage equality in the state of New York in 2009 was hard. I, along with a number of my peers, had spent a majority of the year lobbying, phone-banking, hosting fundraisers, and doing everything we could to encourage our peers to get involved in our fight for equal rights. I thought there was no way we could lose. People would say, "Don't get too excited, anything could happen," but I didn't listen. I was convinced that the Empire state was ready to grant us equal rights.
Interview with Sarah Kennedy of Fight Back New York
1. When and how did Fight Back New York come to fruition?
After the New York State Senate voted against marriage equality in December 2009, a group of committed activists and donors came together to form Fight Back New York, motivated by the fact that New Yorkers have waited too long already for full equality. Our first target was Hiram Monserrate, out of Queens, whom we helped defeat in March's special election. Next up is anti-equality Sen. Bill Stachowski. Fight Back New York was born out of the idea that elected officials who vote against equality don't deserve to be in office, plain and simple.
2. In regards to encouraging member participation, what is your strategy in leveraging each of your social media platforms?
Fight Back New York is plugged into the same social media platforms that our constituents are. Our supporters join us in the fight for equality on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and on their cell phones, via our mobile action network. To join, text FBNY to 69866. Our mobile action network is growing, and we announced our latest target, Sen. Stachowski, via text message.
3. I've looked at a lot of LGBT sites and I've never seen any of them create a game as compelling as "What the Diaz?" (I can't even type the question without chuckling.) Where did the idea of this game come from and what are you hoping to get out of it?
We're glad you enjoyed "What the Diaz?". For your readers who don't know, it's one of Fight Back NY's online campaigns where users provide random words, ie: a Place, a Verb ending in "-ing", and the words automatically replace words in one of anti-LGBT NY State Senator Ruben Diaz's outrageous quotes. We had a lot of fun coming up with it, but "What the Diaz?" wasn't all about fun. It was about grabbing people's attention, engaging them in our work, and encouraging folks to critically think about the words and actions of Ruben Diaz. When it comes down to it, some of the things he's said about the LGBT community have been even more outlandish than any quote you could come up with.
4. This might be a hard one. I've noticed a lot of non-profits, and even some politicians, have begun to use Foursquare. Do you think this is something Fight Back New York will use in the future?
We haven't used Foursquare yet, but we're committed to staying on top of the latest social media trends and engaging with our supporters, and potential supporters in the most strategic way. For instance, at a recent fundraiser, rather than simply accepting contributions via check, we also utilized Square. Square is an application and hardware that works with the iPad, to accept donations via the swipe of a credit card, on site. For NYC Pride, we didn't carry a banner and hope people would remember our name and go home and Google us to find our website. Instead we gathered a great group of volunteers to form a Pride Street Team, who went out during NYC Pride, spoke with Pride-goers about Fight Back NY, and got them to sign up by texting PRIDE to 69866. We evaluate every interaction to make sure we'll be using the technology and venues that make the most sense.
5. Any memorable stories or anecdotes that have come from members on your social media sites that you would like to share with my readers?
In addition to "What the Diaz?", one of our most popular online campaigns so far has been "Send 'Em Packin'". With Send 'Em Packin', folks are given a set of photos of anti-equality NY state senators, and then asked to drag pics of the 3 they want to send packin' into suitcases. We're ready to send home senators who vote against equality for New Yorkers, and we want input from our supporters. Vote against equality? Then it's time you pack up and go home. Stay tuned for more online campaigns, make sure to sign up at fightbackpac.com to make sure you get the latest from Fight Back New York!
To learn how you can join the fight, visit Fight Back New York on any of the following:
Fight Back New York website