It’s been 11 years since we lost the Prop 8 battle. Since then we’ve regained the right to marry in all 50 states with some federal protections, but our rights and community are still under attack in cities, states, and at the federal level. As we approach this upcoming election year our community must stay engaged. Some of you may remember me from my marriage equality days starting in the early 2000’s, and I want to share some tips I’ve learned along the way that you can use every day to help keep our movement going forward.
Story Telling: Find small or big ways to share your personal story with friends, family, coworkers, classmates, or anyone else in your world. Data is great, but the thing that moves people is what pulls at their heartstrings.
Compassionate Curiosity: Ask authentic questions. If someone is “against you” it is a learned behavior or reality for them. Simply telling them they are wrong can often build up walls and engrain their beliefs. Asking them how they feel, why, and how they got to those conclusions moves the needle in a way that fighting with someone doesn’t.
Forgiveness: This is probably the hardest one. If we believe in and fight for change, we must also believe that systems and people can change. Who and how we forgive or don’t is a heavy personal choice, and yet as we work to shift the hearts and minds of those around us it is an important part of the work for many. “Cancel culture” is unhelpful.
This coming year, San Diego Pride and other LGBTQ organizations will ask you to engage with voter registration, the Census, and volunteer-led efforts to turn out the vote in the primary and general election. I hope that you all will join us in these efforts. In those throes of campaigns against anti-LGBTQ discrimination or in the stories and connections of your daily life, each of us has the power to be a part of our Legacy of Liberation.
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made him a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.