Hello Missourians, my beautiful Show-Me State friends!
Many of you have probably seen PROMO’s Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or received an email or two from us. Or perhaps you watched our Twitter feed as we Tweeted for a straight 39 hours in April of 2016 during the epic filibuster on SJR 39. The behind the scenes person is me. My name is Katie. I am the Communications Director at PROMO. I have been with PROMO for four years and four months. I have seen incredible, hard working, passionate people intern and volunteer for PROMO. I have witnessed countless staff members work 60+ hour weeks during legislative session (and all year long) to ensure the rights of LGBT Missourians are protected. I have witnessed the partners of those on the staff give countless hugs, tissues for tears, and hands for hi-fives and for holding through the years.
You see, I have not been afraid to come to work for four years and four months. I have not felt like I had to wear a dress or skirt to work because of “how I am supposed to dress” according to my sex assigned at birth. I am able to come to work and be as free as I want to be, wear a bow tie one day and a suit coat the next. It does not matter. Others do not have this privilege. So many Missourians have to live in fear. I spoke to a trans woman this week a couple times that is just now coming out. I won’t say exactly where she lives for safety reasons but she lives in rural Missouri. She is actively looking for people like her. She was calling to see what her rights are because this week she was told in a store that she could not use the women’s restroom there. Yes, the restroom.
Just this year we have had more calls, emails, and Facebook messages reporting acts of hate because of people being LGBTQ than I can ever remember (including the murder of Danielle Smith in Camdenton). In fact several discriminatory acts have happened in St. Louis city, where I seem to think I live in a bubble. Just one example was right after the election a person was run off the road by a truck and then was threatened with anti-LGBT rhetoric.
Being on the inside of this organization, and working with so many other state groups that do what we do, I see it. I see the passion that runs through people’s veins, passion that bleeds out in rainbows and shades of blue and pink in pride. The passion that has me up at midnight checking a Facebook message or on the weekend monitoring a troll that hops on PROMO’s Facebook page to spew anti-LGBT hate–and I care so much that I can’t let five minutes pass for a vulnerable LGBT person to see it. The passion that has you on the suicide hotline for hours to make sure that someone is okay, then following up with them for days on end. The passion in making sure that our message is intentional and all things intersectional.
I have seen the countless amount of meetings at night, tabling events, prides across Missouri, and coalition groups that one of our staff member continuously shows up at. I have seen the hour long conversations that another one of our staff members has each week with LGBT older adults living in rural Missouri. I have seen the amazing donors that continue to give to PROMO because they believe in this organization, and so do I.