What do you do when a government body and public discourse acknowledge you more than your own family does?
In my case, I tackled that challenge by becoming an activist. My own flavor of activist, that is. I tend to eschew rallies and public marches in favor of quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) speaking out, and it’s largely thanks to social media technologies and platforms I’m able to do this.
From my “early days” as fledgling LGBT activist, my voice for the equality movement has been a decidedly digital one. Starting in the collaboration with some friends for EqualityCamp in January 2009 – a one day “BarCamp” to galvanize action – I found that speaking out, divulging that I was gay, and voicing my opinions about injustice had a very interesting effect. I was not surprised to see support from my close friends and the most inner circle of my professional network. After all, these folks know I’m gay and even for those whose personal opinions might have leaned farther to the right they stepped up and stepped behind my equality efforts.
What was remarkable to me came in the form of the wave of support arriving from friends of friends or even strangers who caught my writing on my blog or on The Huffington Post. In some cases, my stepping into this challenge and voicing my mind led to a professional acquaintance responding with deeply personal support and ultimately resulted in our connection becoming even stronger. The fellow is Chris Sacca, an early employee of Google who now galvanizes new start-ups as an angel investor. He saw this video that I recorded at the Meet in the Middle Rally in May 2009. He messaged me that night telling me how powerful it was for him. He Tweeted the link the next day. Within an hour, I had 250 more followers. (It didn’t hurt that at the time Chris had about 500,000 followers. Now he’s at more than 1 million!)
That same video served an even more powerful purpose. Another friend – a decorated West Point graduate whose politics lie about as far opposed to mine as possible – saw the link go by on Twitter. He watched it, and immediately messaged me that my viewpoint had changed his mind on the issue.
Over the time since I have continued speaking out, more and more vocally, as the march towards equality continues. During this process I have realized that while my family may continue to deny my being gay and discount my activism, there is a lesson from my parents that rings true.
As a child I was always taught to approach things with a positive mind, that the most daunting of challenge wasn’t an obstacle, but rather an opportunity.
With that, I continue to embrace my activism and tread solidly towards equality down a digital path.