Even before I put on my junior varsity activist jacket about this time last year, I was familiar with that phrase and its meaning - keep your mind on the bigger picture, but affix your eyes on the horizon closer to home.
This is the premise on which I built my activism, and so when it came time to think about packing my bags and heading for Washington, DC to attend the National Equality March, I felt like a hypocrite.
I had spent the greater part of the year encouraging others to speak up, to speak out, to speak their truth and I was failing to do so myself. There was no shortage of speaking up in my world. There was no shortage of speaking out. I was failing, however, in speaking the truth to my own family.
Through training at the Courage Campaign's Camp Courage, training that is steeped in the teachings of Harvard Professor and Civil Rights Activist Marshall Ganz, activists learn that personal stories matter. This concept has been a powerful component to many a community outreach effort - including, most recently, the Obama Campaign.
Being able to tell stories is critical, and for the LGBT community the 40 years since Stonewall have given rise to an amazing tapestry of platforms and outlets through which our voices can be heard. Christine Alloro, CEO & Founder of OurSceneTV - a relatively new lifestyle site for the LGBT community - says that it's through sharing who we are that change can happen. "I truly believe that sharing compelling stories humanizes our community and (these stories) have the capacity to foster understanding and create change."
In talking about the site, which has a distinctly Entertainment Tonight/Access Hollywood feel, Alloro admits that OurSceneTV is heavily entertainment driven, but is just part of the equation. She explained that the site's Stonewall 2.0 component takes a more pure documentary style approach, getting into more serious topics ranging from "issues facing the trans(gendered) community, gay parents, immigration and adoption laws, and safeguarding your finances."
OurSceneTV covered the National Equality March extensively providing on the street interviews and footage of the march, and also managed to secure an exclusive interview with Lady Gaga, after she performed at the same HRC dinner at which President Obama spoke. It is these sorts of celebrity interviews and exclusives combined with thoughtful coverage of community news that Alloro hopes will help bridge gaps for the LGBT community to the rest of the world, and also give those who are closeted "a sense that they can come out."
Talking with Alloro, I immediately thought of my own hesitancy to speak out, of my own fear to use my voice - and I'm an out-and-proud lesbian living in one of the most gay friendly cities in the world. I mentioned this to her, and could almost hear the sad smile in Alloro's voice when she replied.
It's not only about the people who are really closeted who either can't accept or just can't publicly admit their sexuality. It's also about people on the margins, people like you and me. I feel like the more exposure, the more gay stories we can tell in the world, the more quickly we can move towards a time when no one will need to be afraid, and we can take the closet doors off once and for all.