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Heidi Lovy is doing communications work for Equality Michigan out of Traverse City. She is passionate about her work and loves “being the straight girl” advocating for LGBT full equality. She expects Traverse City will be a little less laid back with Equality Michigan in town.
1. What will your new role for Equality Michigan be?
Since my family and I relocated up north, Equality Michigan has retained me to do communications work. I’m handing community outreach, social media and public and media relations for the entire state. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to continue this work. I’m passionate about the mission of Equality Michigan, and I absolutely love being the straight girl running my mouth about gay rights. I hope they’re ready for me.
No one should be satisfied until there are equal rights for everyone. I get so angry when I hear the opposition contend that we’re asking for “special” rights. It just isn’t the case. Ultimately, I want to help create a world where my kids can look back in amazement and say, “Wow, there was a time when women couldn’t vote? When African Americans had separate schools? When gay people couldn’t get married? How bizarre is that?”
2. What are you starting to see as the differences in LGBT issues in Traverse City versus southeast Michigan?
I’m still acclimating myself here, but it seems to me that the Traverse City area might need a little shot of adrenalin. There are folks doing some fantastic work here, but we need to re-energize people. I’d like to see more activism and education in the schools. There is an incredible movement going on here artistically with the Traverse City Film Fest, Interlochen and an insurgence in creative people. That’s a good sign for progressive issues. In Metro Detroit, we see lots more “in your face” type activism and I think that it’s a tad more laid back in Northern Michigan. We certainly don’t want to step on any toes, but I do believe Equality Michigan’s presence here will help motivate some people who may have taken a backseat to LGBT issues, and it will hopefully inspire some folks who haven’t been involved previously.
3. Why do you think it’s crucial to have LGBT and allied forces at work in more remote parts of the state?
People tend to feel more isolated in remote areas – and there’s really nothing worse than feeling alone when you’re having difficulties. By having a presence in northern Michigan, Equality Michigan plans to be a resource for individuals, schools, businesses, institutions, social workers … Just about anyone who may not know where to begin when it comes to dealing with discrimination. We are a state-wide agency and it’s crucial that we stay connected with all of the residents of Michigan – urban, suburban, rural … You name it.
4. How will the work you do now connect with what’s being done at Equality Michigan’s main offices?
The work I’m doing here connects perfectly with what’s being done at the main office. Everything we do is mission-driven. Our mission is:
“Equality Michigan works to achieve full equality and respect for all people in the state of Michigan regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”
That’s pretty applicable anywhere in the state. And honestly, how anyone could be opposed to this mission is beyond me. The core of our mission is equality – the end. This is not a debatable topic for me.
Equality Michigan plans to host some town hall meetings here and in the Upper Peninsula so we’re able to connect directly with folks. We know what our take is on LGBT issues in the state, but we also want to hear about personal experiences people are having. We want to know what priorities are across the state and help communities reach their goals.
5. What do you see as the biggest LGBT issue to tackle in Traverse City right now?
Again, I’m still learning about my new environment, but it seems that the focus here right now is the recent passing of the Human Rights Ordinance. While this is definitely a great victory for the Traverse City LGBT community, it appears that the opposition will succeed in getting this issue on the ballot. I met recently with Jim Carruthers, an openly gay Traverse City commissioner, and he believes that the community will support the ordinance no matter what. Jim is amazing and enthusiastic and I’m thrilled that Equality Michigan is here to lend a hand.
When everything is said and done, and the human rights ordinance is safely in place, Equality Michigan can help ensure it’s being properly observed and educate the community on what it means in practical application. Stay tuned!