I was raised in a household where charity and volunteering were considered to be not only a responsibility, but a building block of humanity. I carry that mindset with me to this day, and have tried to engage with my community in a way that plays to my strengths. From tutoring and participating in literacy programs for at-risk youth, to working in a diversity-centered leadership position in college and now running a political web project, I try to pursue change using the written word and communication wherever I am.
I got the idea for this project after a few months of depression and dejection over the election. It was traumatic and bewildering (it still is), but I got tired of sitting by. I had to do something. We all have to do something - there is no such thing as too much or too little when it comes to activism.
Currently, voicemail boxes are overloaded and full at the offices of many major U.S. Congresspeople. Phone lines have been bombarded by activists calling to protest. The White House has completely dismantled their comment voicemail box altogether. Emails and tweets can get lost in the shuffle.
So: stuff their mailboxes.
I will be writing a letter to every Republican member of the United States Congress, and will be chronicling the journey on a blog. Make the resistance physical. Be a marcher of words. PAPER IS POWER.
We cannot normalize autocracy.
My mission was for students to feel comfortable in their skin, to promote and enhance activism in the community, and to give voice to injustice - and, also, hope for those that face prejudice in their everyday lives.
Universities are a tough transition, and I had already learned that forging relationships with your professors is the key to success. This relationship-building is not easy even for the best of people, and many LGBTQ students feel this intimidation even more.
As Undersecretary for LGBTQ Affairs with the Department of Diversity, I organized and moderated discussion panels between students and professors of queer affiliation, creating safe spaces for frank dialogues about sexuality, academic discrimination, and solutions to problems they face as members of a minority group. More still, I thought it was important that they were given advice on how to face life as a queer person outside collegiate walls, not just in dorms and classrooms.
Election: Campaigning in Virginia
In the spring of 2018, I volunteered for the campaign of a Democratic challenger in Virginia's tenth district primary, who ran to replace the Republican incumbent, Barbara Comstock. Her name was Alison Friedman, and I continue to fight by her side to this day, even after she lost the primary to an equally tenacious Democrat, Jennifer Wexton. I wrote hundreds of postcards, organized a meet and greet with a diverse group of liberal Northern Virginians, and sent letters to the editor of area publications. I don't regret a single moment, and I learned so much about loss, ending something with dignity, and running a clean campaign. Alison is an inspiring and incredibly intelligent woman who has become a role model, and using my strengths to work for her was a privilege that I would repeat again.
Photo: The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.