I interned with Equality Florida last summer of 2013 when DOMA was overturned in the Supreme Court and Equality Florida was winning and engaging in local battles all over the state. I'd never been so inspired by the efforts of a group of people and I didn't even have to step foot in one of their offices to feel their fire. So, naturally, I wouldn't turn down the offer to volunteer at Tallahassee Pride.
In my personal life, I lack a lot of support from older and more traditional members of my family on the matter of being in a lesbian relationship. I struggle with my desire for the need of their approval and my desire to live my life as freely as possible. This has caused strife in my relationships on both sides and compromised happiness in my life as a whole. Equality Florida has not only given me peace of mind that I'm not alone, but that this fight, whether it be for marriage equality, or any other rights the LGBT community is deprived of, is worth it and that happiness should never be taken away from people because of what gender they choose to be, fall in love with or share their life with.
I had the fortune of listening to numerous heartbreaking and beautiful stories while at Tallahassee Pride 2014. Stories of loss of love ones to HIV/AIDS, suicide, or other causes and not being able to be by their side, stories of transgender individuals unable to be recognized for who they know they are, and stories of allies finally understanding the damage caused by their past blind hate. I know these stories have to be told and continue to be told regardless of how much we as a community overcome because when these battles are won, it needs to be known that it was for the freedom to love AND be happy.
Thanks Equality Florida!
For more stories and information about our Get Engaged campaign, go to www.getengaged.org.