(#19 in a series of people who changed the course of my life)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
If this blog exercise has taught me anything, it is that my life is nothing but a reflection of the people whom I choose to surround myself with—or by sheer dumb luck, find myself in the same room with!
There are so many such people—but in particular, I want to call out a few more of these world-changers.
Steve Rudner has shown me the extent of a father’s love and the breadth of what being an advocate can look like. I have a feeling Steve has always been an ally; his strong faith could lead him down no other path. He and his wife are raising two of the most incredible sons–young men who are already leaders before they are out of high school. This does not happen by accident but rather by careful observation of such a person as Steve. Spend 60 seconds with the man and you will discover his passion and the heart behind it. And he gets things done! What an inspiration!
Joe Swanson is proof that the movement of equality and advocacy will not suffer for the lack of strong, passionate leadership. Another straight ally, Joe imbues the passion of what a young Harvey Milk might have been like—intelligent, winsome, influential, strong, someone people will follow. As cheerful as he is determined and smart, Joe’s mission in life is to join hands with the marginalized—people from all groups and walks of life—and stand with them, advocating with every ounce of his heart and passion for their fair and equal treatment. He understands that he must use every ounce of his white, heterosexual, male privilege for others. What an exciting person to be around!
Joy Parks has pushed me and inspired me with her activism and involvement. Instead of choosing to grieve the particular marginalization she experiences, Joy is out there, invested in the political process, advocating for not only her own equality and dignity but for others, choosing to be involved in many other struggles for dignity and fairness. (Watch her Facebook—she’s EVERYwhere.) She brings ideas forward, often compelling other leaders to use their influence and talents to help advance them. I have no doubt that when we finally see the establishment of a memorial for those killed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, it will be because she would not relent until we did it. What vision and courage!
Rafael McDonnell serves as an example of how to get things done. Someone else whose passions are imprinted all over the movement for equality and dignity of LGBT people, Rafael is a person of many talents. He pays attention to what’s going on around him and is able to be immediately responsive on a variety of levels–whether it’s through a soundbite, an interview, an action, or a piece of journalism. He has accomplished what he has without becoming arrogant or making enemies; people want to work with him. And I’m so glad I got to!
These gracious, talented, passionate folks show me what it means to put one’s beliefs into action—with confidence, with humility, with grace. As I consider my future, I pray my life is known for such a stand as theirs.
20. a strong heart