Celebrating the Grassroots Era

BTL Staff
By | 2010-06-03T09:00:00-04:00 June 3rd, 2010|Uncategorized|

Over the past 17 years, many names and faces have graced the pages of Between The Lines. Some of them were pseudonyms or lacked last names due to a desire to protect themselves from discrimination. Some featured front-page photos, titles and individuals living out, proud, courageously. Some were quoted once; others garnered 1,000-word stories about their journey or their work. Some were affiliated with an organization or group; others just happened to be on the scene when a BTL reporter came by.
But all of them – thousands upon thousands of names and faces – are united as the LGBT and allied community.
In the past few years, we have seen a shift in the ways in which we fight for our rights.
Activists band together over Facebook and Twitter, meeting only to hold a sit-in at a politician’s office, or to handcuff themselves to the White House fence. Advocates eschew big-name organizations in favor of starting their own non-profit. Queer people of all kinds find each other at rallies, marches and protests.
And make no mistake: change is happening. It’s no coincidence that the passing of Kalamazoo’s non-discrimination ordinance came after months of volunteers from across the state drove to West Michigan to knock on doors and change minds. Or that the House passage of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal – something some said could take years – happened after relentless protesting, badgering and putting Obama on the hot seat by the activists of GetEQUAL and others.
Change is happening, and though our statewide and nationwide LGBT organizations are assisting us, we’re the ones making it happen.
When Iraq War veteran Eric Alva volunteers with the Human Rights Campaign so that he can speak out about DADT to groups across the U.S., he’s making it happen. When our gay community takes part in focus groups or surveys as Equality Michigan moves forward with their plans for the future, we’re making it happen.
Whenever someone tells their story honestly and openly to Between The Lines – be it through Between Ourselves, a full-length feature or just a one-sentence statement – they’re making it happen.
We celebrate individuals because without them, organizations would be empty shells and donor dollars would go to waste. Money and bureaucracy only go so far without passion.
When actively working for change, you can pay someone to get a job done, or you can ask for help from the people who are so invested in their causes that the only payment necessary is knowing they made a difference. When we pass laws and defeat anti-gay politicians and ignite change in the hearts and minds of our neighbors, local businesses and families, we are benefiting in a way that money can’t buy.
That’s what grassroots activism is about: fighting for change because we want it so badly. Giving more and more of our time to causes because we care about them so deeply. Lending our names and faces to the movement because we know that without each and every one of us, we’re not as diverse, nor as strong as we could be.
To every face and name, every member of our community: thank you.

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 25th anniversary.