Another Camp Courage Story

Camp Courage and the -respect -empower-include” that I learned there, not just from the Camp Courage team, staff and speakers, but from the people I met from all over the valley. When I showed up that first day I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I was really thinking, here we go, we are going to have some LA gays trying to tell us (the valley people) how to campaign and it’s all about the money they wanted.  Then they would act like they didn’t know how hard it was here during the whole Prop 8 thing here in the valley.

But, then I remembered what the e-mail said, that they knew about the need here in the valley and they even called it ground zero! (Fresno/Central Valley) So, I get my name tag and find the group number I was in and had a seat. I was right in front, I was the first one there in my group, then in each group you had a Camp Courage staff in your group. I liked to call them your camp counselor, so for the first few hours we met and heard speakers like Rick Jacobs chair and founder of camp courage, then my favorite, Torie Osborn. She works on a lot of campaigns and she talked about the women’s movement, one of my favorite things! And Lisa Powell a lawyer.

And then one of my heroes the valleys own. Robin McGehee. I like what she had to say about how it felt during the prop 8 time and at the time of rallies and trying to get out the vote and how we are gay brothers and sisters and the others from the bigger cities had forgotten us! And when we would get supplies it felt like they were being helicoptered in to us!

Then other speaker was state senator Sheila Kuehi (ret) another one that talked about the women’s movement, so I was sitting there listening to all these great stories. Lisa Powell comes back and talks about "story of self" finding your voice as an activist, or just telling how you over came a bad point in your life and it made you who you are today or what is making you fight for marriage equality. Then in our groups we told each ones story of self! I had 2 men and 2 women in our group the first day and Brooke from
Visalia was in my group. So we told our stories mine was about me and the city of
Porterville and about the city signing a marriage proclamation and telling everyone in the city and county to vote yes on 8! After that I’ve been doing rallies and getting the word out for marriage equality.

Hearing everyone’s self stories I realized how blessed I’m to have a family that loves me for who I am! I heard stories of young people getting kicked out of there churches thinking that god doesn’t love them anymore and how they miss praying and going to church but now they can’t cuz of who they are! That story was one of the ones that hit me the most, the so called faith communities have no clue that there are so many young people that they have to run away and hurt! Another story that got to me was a lot of coming out stories and how they had to live on the streets at 14 years old! How this persons own family made Myspace pages saying yes on 8 and then putting up a pic of their sister and saying don’t let your kid turn out like this!

But camp courage just didn’t use emotion to get you cuz if you were already fighting with us for equality then you know how emotional the room these two days were! And you know how this whole past year has been on us. So I did learn how to talk with people on marriage equality better. I did learn we have help now in the valley! And during those two days there were a few camp courage staff that did say sorry for not helping the valley out, but camp courage was not with the "no on 8 campaign" and they knew and saw a lot that the no on 8 didn’t do and they also learned a lot cuz most of the staff from the camp courage campaign were former Obama organizers, and work with lots of other campaigns or with labor unions like the two speakers we had Dolores Huerta and Cleve Jones!

But most of what I learned from this is that everyone is a community organizer whose mission is to recruit volunteers, inspire others to leadership and build the movement! It’s going to be hard here in the valley but if we want full equality for all then we need your help to do this with us! There is something for everyone to do, so we need to start now, even if we win or lose in the court we have to be ready for 2010 or 2012. They will keep taking rights away and if it starts with us it’s going to happen with other groups this is what the courage campaign is trying to do get all the movements to work as one! Equality starts now with you!

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