Times are tough. Our economy is failing, we are ruining our planet, we largely fail to take care of the most marginalized and powerless in our society, and our democracy is increasingly dominated by those claiming exclusive rights to American values while practicing none. In the face of overwhelming opposition with seemingly endless amounts of money and the willingness to use it to deceive and oppress it’s hard to imagine things getting better. It’s tempting to become jaded and cynical.
Some days I wake up angry, frustrated, and feeling powerless. While my community fights amongst itself, argues over tactics, agonizingly debates messaging, and wages turf war, another day passes without justice.
And some days are transformational.
This weekend spent at the New Organizing Institute’s National RootsCamp turned my occasional cynicism on its head. I came to the event hoping to pick up some tips, learn some new tools, and to promote and discuss Talk About Equality. I knew I would see old friends and meet some new ones, and I hoped to come away with a few good ideas.
What I did not expect, and what will keep me going for a long time, was the feeling of pure hope and inspiration that surrounded the event. The people in that room had real power, big ideas, and the determination to change their community and fight for their vision. It was contagious. I found myself consumed by the spirit of collaboration and good will and profoundly moved by the collective power of the people there.
The purpose of the event was to train each other, share ideas, and ultimately to make the progressive movement stronger. I firmly believe we are stronger when we work together, but until this weekend I haven’t seen many examples of this, especially amongst LGBTs. RootsCamp reminded me that there is a dedicated group of talented and benevolent people working to fight the injustice and corruption that so many of us face daily. Being around such brilliance took away much of my fear and cynicism and I feel more powerful and inspired to empower others than ever before.
What I learned this weekend, in the end, is that I have the tools and the responsibility to empower new leaders to take first steps, to stand up, and to seize ownership over the equality movement. I am more committed than ever before to reaching new audiences, engaging new leaders, and encouraging every new person I meet to stand up for justice and equality.
As we face potential set backs this is the perfect time to broaden our movement, bring in new voices, and continue the hard work of having difficult conversations, in our daily lives and in unfriendly environments. Now, more than ever, we need to learn from our allies, grow our numbers, and find new friends.