A new path to Add The Words?
Joining the fight for LGBTQ rights and protections in Idaho
When I watched Sansa, Arya, and Jon walking off to new adventures at the end of Game of Thrones (sorry if that’s a spoiler for you!), I got reflective. I also feel like I’m at a transition point, and I was thinking…
What’s a grand challenge I can work towards?
Something big and daunting. Something that’s impactful and symbolic. Something that people have been working on, but success has been elusive. Something personal to me and motivational.
I kept coming back to Add The Words.
Full disclosure: I’m straight. But, several of my best friends are gay, and as I’ve been watching the unsuccessful attempts to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Idaho, I’ve been getting more and more angry. It’s safe to say I’m fairly enraged at this point. And my work with Cole Valley Speaks has further reinforced how terrible this problem is.
I have some creative ideas.
I’ve been experimenting a lot with community organization and social change lately, and I recently had an idea for a massively coordinated blogging and social media campaign through Reclaim Idaho. As I was zoning out on a plane yesterday, I thought about tailoring those ideas to Add The Words. I sketched out a plan.
Numerous viral, personal blog posts.
The idea would be dozens or hundreds of blog posts from individuals, across every legislative district in Idaho, saying why it matters to them that there are equal rights and protections for all Idahoans, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.
With crystal-clear accountability for our representatives.
The website would have a page, front and center, that shows whether each representative “tolerates discrimination” or “does not tolerate discrimination.” Every blog post would be written directly to a representative, and we’d track each of their positions on the issue. The goal would be 70% of our elected leaders going on the record supporting equal rights in Idaho.
Templatized tools to make involvement easy.
I think tools would include a Change.org petition, a Medium publication, Youtube videos, social media posts, and emails to legislators and news outlets. All of these would have templates and organizers to assist each new writer, making it quick and easy.
Getting people to take a stand.
Most Idahoans (including me) have been sitting on the sidelines on this for too long. They’ve been watching what their leaders do, and wondering if/when changes will happen. It hasn’t been, and it won’t be, enough.
It’s time that we make this change happen. At the very least, we can make people show their true colors. It’s time to stand up and speak out. We need to force the issue.
When someone you know personally takes a stand on something, you notice.
It’s different than seeing a known entity do it, like an activist, politician, or organization. That may be interesting, but it feels distant and disconnected from you. When someone you know personally does it, it’s real. You realize you can do it too and maybe that you should too. You realize that anyone can make an impact, not just the usuals.
Would you take a stand for equal rights in Idaho?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in being included in the initial steps.
Update (May 21, 11:43am): I got feedback that this post seems to ignore a lot of the hard work queer people have been putting in for years. And I should be careful to not be “another straight cisgender white male assuming you know better than queer people what’s needed.” Touché.
Update (May 23, 11:20am): The response to this idea has been significant and almost entirely positive. I’m scheduling a feedback/planning meeting with this Doodle Poll. Please fill it out if you’d like to join! Also, I’ve begun documenting where every current Idaho legislator stands on this issue.
Update (May 24, 8:48am): I watched the Add The Words documentary last night for the first time. Bawled my eyes out and trembled with rage. Then I watched organizer Nicole Lefavour’s TEDxBend talk. #InspirationStation