Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Road To Activism

I have had people ask me how I got "into" activism.  It is an interesting story, and to me, "road to activism" stories are just as fascinating, diverse, and layered as "coming out" stories can be!  For me, my activism has gone in waves.  All of my life, I have been one to be very aware of the world around me, particularly of the hardships of the disenfranchised.  High school saw me attempting (and failing) to start an underground newspaper, organizing and rallying students to save the job of a transgender teacher, doing some work for environmental justice and animal rights, and trying to organize a pro-peace rally during the first Gulf War.  In my mind, those efforts were not very successful (looking back, I can see some awesome successes in them all), and that is probably the primary reason I sort of pulled into my shell for a couple decades!

I became what my friends call an armchair activist.  Always hyper aware of things going on in the world, I was on top of every call in, and letter writing campaign, and later, as the internet started to take off, always on top of email campaigns and petition drives.  This, along with frequently speaking my mind among friends and coworkers, was the extend of any activism I was engaged in.  Then, during the summer of 2010, I sat at home, watching events unfold via Twitter.  These were a set of direct actions taking place around the country over "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and also around getting a Trans inclusive ENDA (employment non discrimination act) passed.  The emotional impact of watching live tweets from actions where people were sitting in on offices, or chaining themselves to the White House fence was huge for me!  It literally started to reawaken my inner activist!

I spent the next few months diving into research on direct action, non violent action, social justice work.  I read MLK, Gandhi, Thoreau, read up online about ACT-UP, Queer Nation, and on and on.  I started doing some social justice work with people in my church.  Then, in September of that year, President Obama came to Albuquerque.  Myself and a few new activist friends were there in protest to pressure Obama to sign an executive order halting discharges under DADT until it was repealed.  Being on the streets and taking direct action, I was instantly "at home"!  For me, there was (and is) no going back.  I have been organizing and causing a ruckus since then, and have seen first hand how direct action can truly yield results.  This blog, for me, is another extension of this work.  As outgoing State Lead of NM GetEQUAL, I have a few months left with my group (and in the state of NM), and will then be a Floridian.  This blog will travel with me, and be, hopefully, a great way for me to both process shit in my own head, and help others along in their own journey!


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