Have you ever had that euphoric moment when you feel that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and you are surrounded by the people that you are supposed to be with?
For some, it’s the sweet victory of scoring with your team on the soccer field, for others it’s snuggling with a pile of puppies, but for us it’s nerding out at a conference with fellow LGBT and ally organizers. (Okay, okay, we love soccer and puppies too.) That was us last Wednesday, excited to commence our first day of the Equality Federation Leadership Conference in Alexandria, VA. Minds engaged, pronouns shared, notebooks open, everyone at the conference was full of optimism!
Then we heard the news. We heard that our president published a series of tweets threatening our transgender military members. The room grew solemn. Here we were--all these state organizations convening in our nation’s capital to learn how to bring our states closer to equality, and down the street was our president, spewing dismissive rhetoric via his favorite app, at the expense of our community.
Swiftly, everyone jumped to action and organized. All in the same space, our organizations engaged in the rapid response to resist the most current attack on our community. We emailed you, our equality supporters, and had a map ready to spread the love to our transgender community--all while affirming that tweets are not policy.
All together at this moment, we could feel the movement. In Missouri, we help lead a piece of the larger movement. But the work for equality only exists because of all of us: state organizations, national and local organizations, staff, donors, board members, volunteers, allies, and YOU! (Yes, YOU reading and sharing this blog) The movement towards equality only exists because we are in this together.
The Equality Federation Leadership Summit not only shows us what this work together means, it teaches us vital information that we are excited to share with our fellow Missourians. This year, we learned about new research that highlights how we can enact more policies, work with more supporters, and engage more effectively in intersecting movements. We are dedicated to calling out racism, classism, anti-semitism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, and ableism. We are here not just for LGBT equality; we are here for equality for ALL Missourians.
As Field Organizers, we are often asked, “What’s a field organizer?” or “What exactly do you do?” (Both very valid questions! Especially if you’ve never worked on a campaign before.) Think of us as LGBT community connectors. We reach out to all parts of Missouri, engaging businesses, health care and service providers, organizations, schools, and coalitions. We provide critical cultural competency training about the LGBT community, so that organizations, agencies, and leaders can better serve everyone. And that’s just the beginning. We work with municipal and agency policies to ensure they are as inclusive as possible, protecting our LGBT Missourians where is matters most: employment, housing, public accommodations, health care, and more. And most important of all, we work with you, our equality supporters, and we support you back, getting everyone connected to resources and engaged in this movement--together.
As newer PROMO employees, we know how critical the work PROMO does is. But one thing we saw at the Equality Federation Leadership Summit, surrounded by all of the other statewide LGBT organizations, was that Missouri was a leader. We are leading the charge on LGBT health access initiatives. Other state LGBT organizations are looking to PROMO and Missouri to model their health care initiatives. Other states surrounding us want to achieve what we have been doing as Team PROMO. Sometimes when these attacks on the LGBT community are close to home, we feel that there are better places to be, but we are one of the states leading the charge--and we have no plan of stopping.
So join us! Are you part of a coalition invested in equality and justice? Are you part of an indivisible group, a huddle, or any group working towards equality? Do you want to be? Then join us! PROMO is here to push this work to the end, to assist and support tireless advocates, and achieve our common goals towards equality.
Mandi and Karis