Commit to come out for civil unions
October 21, 2011 | 9:19 am
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 5:21 pm)
By Jess Woodrum
Just last week, we celebrated National Coming Out Day. A day when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people all across the country come out and openly express who they are to family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.
For some, it’s a beautiful day. For others, it’s a day of fear and hurt. And for many, perhaps all, it’s a day that begins or continues a lifelong process to be oneself, in the face of all odds.
Coming out – no matter when it’s done or what it means to someone individually – is not simply a personal act. It is also a political act.
I know you’ve heard this before, but I’ll say it again because I know it to be true – coming out is a critical part of winning equality. Still, the only thing that really changes people’s hearts and minds to support equality is knowing someone who is LGBT.
I’ve seen it happen time and time again. A lesbian daughter wipes away the homophobia of her parents. A transgender co-worker builds common ground in the workplace. A gay neighbor changes the attitudes of his entire block.
To be sure, coming out is powerful – even in 2011.
But today, in the wake of National Coming Out Day, I want to ask for more than coming out. I want to ask you to share your lives in a way that no one should have to.
No one should have to open up his or her lives to the world. No one should have to defend his or her love to their family. No one should have to face a crowd and tell his or her story.
But I’m asking you today to do just that.
I’m asking you today to share your lives, your hopes, your dreams and your family with two people you may not know at all.
Your legislators. The people who represent you at the Capitol in Denver. The people who vote on taxes and education and healthcare and … your family.
In 2012, our legislators will once again have the opportunity to protect all Colorado families. They will be able to cast their votes in favor of civil unions or against them.
Thousands of us were heartbroken last year when we didn’t get the one vote we needed – the one vote that would have given our families critical legal protections to take care of the ones we love.
In 2012, we’ll need that one vote again. And it’s going to come from you, all of you.
Each of you out there can help us win that one critical vote – by opening your lives to your legislators. By getting to know the people who represent you and by making sure that they know you.
Commit today to helping your legislators know someone who is LGBT. Let them know you as a constituent, as a community member and as a person. Let them know you as a partner, a father or mother, a basketball coach, an engineer, a violinist. Let them know your family, your hopes, your concerns, your passions.
Commit today to sending your legislators a holiday card. To inviting them over for dinner or a gathering with friends. To attending their townhall meetings. To finding them at church or in the grocery store and chatting with him or her. To buying them a small birthday gift.
Commit today to kindly showing your legislators why your family matters – and why you need them to vote for love and for fairness.
Each and every one of us can impact what happens in 2012. It’s as simple as coming out, as simple as telling our stories, as simple as opening up our lives to the two people who make decisions for us at the Capitol.
One of us, two of us, ten of us, ten thousand of us – we can make a difference just by being us.
So I ask you: what will you do to get the one vote we need?
Jess Woodrum is the Deputy Director of One Colorado, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization.
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