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All politics is loco

By |2017-10-31T06:26:18-04:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Imagine that you have to convince thousands of total strangers to like you in a matter of months. Not just any strangers, but frequently voting strangers. And they have to do more than like you. You have to convince them to prefer you more than other people to represent them in city, county or state government. Scared yet? You’re not alone.
Recently the Victory Fund, a national political organization that supports openly GLBT candidates for office, started compiling the most comprehensive list of openly GLBT elected and appointed officials in the nation. As an incentive to get the best list possible, state organizations were tapped to help put the pieces together. The final picture in Michigan shows the profile of approximately 31 openly GLBT officials that have been appointed to local or state boards and commissions or who hold elected office. We all know there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of other family members serving their communities quietly, but we may never know who they are.
Running for office can be terrifying. Where do you start? Do you have the time? Do you have the ability to raise money? Do you have connections, energy, friends, talent, or just a really good instinct for politics? Many LGBT people decide not to run for office, for fear that their private life will be made public or that it is unfair to drag their partner or family through the potentially complicated and difficult experience of having your life examined under a microscope. It is perfectly acceptable to have those fears. But as the saying goes, the world is run by those who show up.
How will lesbian and gay parents ever feel secure about their families if they don’t know how their neighbors would react to a gay candidate for office? How will a local bisexual small business owner know how they will be treated on Main Street unless the community can say, ‘Oh that is no big deal, we used to have a Sheriff that was bisexual.’ And how does the local transgender postal worker survive their route every day, worrying about being teased by school children, unless they see lawn signs on every block for a mayor that transitioned just last year and was supported by the local paper? How do we take the temperature of our communities? Is it the number of hate crimes? The number of lesbian owned businesses or rainbow flags? NO.
Nothing makes me feel more comfortable about the physical and emotional health of my community than watching thousands of voters approach their ballot with an open mind and connect the arrow or pull the lever for the someone they know to be queer. It is liberating to watch a community elevate someone regardless of who they love and how they love.
I have watched lawmakers completely change their position on GLBT issues because they have a colleague who is openly gay serving with them. This has been the case all over the state and nation. We need more openly GLBT people to run for office and we need them NOW. It is currently the late winter of 2005 with plenty of time for exploring the issue. Find out the pitfalls and perks of running. Sometimes the point isn’t winning, but showing you are not scared to throw your beret in the ring. But if you are going to run, do it with style, pride and passion. Public service is serious business and don’t be disappointed if every barking dog or ribbon cutting isn’t what you signed up for. Indeed, it is the mundane work of keeping our nation moving that shows our true colors.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.