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When Proposal 2 passed last November, something happened to Susan Fecteau. The 47-year-old successful realtor and Ann Arbor-based soccer mom of four was devastated.
“I didn’t get out of bed for a couple days,” Fecteau recalled. “I was nave in believing that when people went to the polls they would find what was right in their hearts and not choose to change the state constitution to discriminate. So I was shocked when it passed. It really depressed me. And of course that depression lifted and then I got angry and certainly irritated with myself that I didn’t do more to educate people beyond my circle.”
So Fecteau starting doing what she wished she had done earlier. She started talking to folks.
“I immediately started letter writing. I realized that if I could touch all the people in my life, the businesses that I go to, the parents of my kid’s friends at school É I’m talking at a soccer or baseball game, if I just started talking to people in the stands, start up a conversation, that could have a ripple effect and that I could change hopefully hearts and minds and start a debate and a dialogue with people so that people could better understand what the real issues were.”
Soon enough, Fecteau started to feel better.
“It’s sort of like a light bulb went on over my head,” she said. “I said, ‘If I can get up the strength and the energy to do this and feel energized by it and feel more positive and less depressed and less angry; if I can make an impact in my life and the people that I can touch through my businesses where I shop, who I buy goods and services from, who I touch through sports and my other hobbies and interests in the community; if I can touch all those people, those people can then touch other people and we can commit social change quicker.'”
As the conversations continued and folks were won over, Fecteau knew she was on to something.
“I tried to energize some of my immediate friends. I said, ‘Why don’t you go to some of the businesses, places where you shop, and ask them, personally, how they voted on Proposal 2 and – depending on what their answer is – start a conversation or a dialogue about it – an argument if need be – and then further ask what their company has in the form of non-discrimination [protection] towards employees.’
“You can ask simple questions,” Fecteau continued. “You go to a coffee shop and say, ‘Do you want to have gay customers?’ Well, what business owner is going to admit they don’t want customers? If somebody’s going to be stupid enough to say they don’t want gay shoppers, then that’s obviously someplace we’d consider boycotting. But beyond that it starts an important thing, a ripple effect of conversation and dialogue. I mean, I’ve done this at the place I get my car washed, where I buy my gas, the corner grocery store where I buy a gallon of milk. I first talk to the cashier and then I talk to the manager and if I can get to the owner of the company, I’ll talk my way up.”
Now that Fecteau has gotten her friends on board, she’s searching for more recruits. To this end, Fecteau has created www.personalcampaign.com.
“The public site will hopefully be up within the next month,” she said. “We’re going to do a blog on there and then we’re going to start publishing the negatives and positives. We’re going to boast about the companies that have been groovy and we’re going to list who are challenges are, and people can make their own choices about whether they want to boycott.”
Fecteau is hoping that soon everyone in Michigan’s LGBT community will be on a personal campaign of their own. Her site will features all the tools needed, including sample letters and literature that can be downloaded, printed out and shared.
“It’s sort of grown,” she said of her mission. “Now I want to give people the strength and tools to launch their own campaign.”