As we get closer, the "how will I feel on Nov. 7 if we lose?" question is with me, even as I put in a final haul to win. And here's what I've realized: Win or lose, this campaign has been a huge gift. It's woken me up from a numbing slumber and reconnected me with the pure joy and power of a grassroots movement.
I lived and worked in Washington, D.C., for years, coaching people in states facing these initiatives. And I have to say that being on the ground, being a volunteer, doing this because I care about it and not needing to be a "professional" is much realer and far more enlivening. And this campaign has offered an enormous gift: It has moved thousands of us beyond awkwardness into the joy that comes from taking risks in conversations and surviving even the worst of them.
Here in Minnesota, and in most of the country, we hate awkward conversations and shy away from them. That makes many of our conversations dull and superficial. I mean, white people talking about racism? Pretty much always awkward. People of means talking about poverty? Awkward. There are so many ravines we don't try to cross with each other, and this campaign has reawakened in me the understanding that after awkwardness comes relief -- not death, not annihilation, but that old feeling that "the truth shall set you free." Win or lose the election, we've broken the awkwardness barrier, and I think that is a gift for us all.
I've still got lots more conversations to have. I used a tool that Minnesotans United developed that gives me access to the Secretary of State's data bank on many Facebook friends to whom I haven't spoken. (If you're interested, you can look at http://know.mnunited.org/users/login). I can save the campaign time and money if I assure them that a particular friend will vote "no" (or "yes"). They won't waste time calling that person themselves. But I have also stared at friends' names and thought, "I can't guarantee anything about that person's vote, because I haven't personally talked to them!" We're trained not to assume. So I've called and emailed some people I haven't contacted beyond Facebook in years. Talk about awkward. "Um, hi... remember me? Yes, I am a real person still!"
So I made this silly video about how to start awkward conversations. If you've been avoiding one, whether you live in Minnesota or not, whether it's about politics or religion or just the way someone clicks their fork on their teeth when they eat that drives you crazy, may this silly little thing encourage you to just live with the awkwardness and keep moving. Oh, and the part where I say that we want to pass the amendment? That's an unedited mistake, just so the clumsiness of the film accurately reflects the topic at hand: awkwardness.
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