Pocatello resident Mike Thomas and Pride Foundation's Idaho staffer, Steve Martin, get ready for a day of voter canvassing.

Pocatello resident Mike Thomas and Pride Foundation’s Idaho staffer, Steve Martin, get ready for a day of voter canvassing.

When I joined Pride Foundation as a regional organizer, I knew there would be some tough days working on issues related to LGBTQ equality, especially living in Idaho. I’ve discovered, though, that when you really believe in something, it is easier to put those few difficult days behind you and celebrate the victories – particularly the hard-fought win to preserve Pocatello’s non-discrimination ordinance.

When we found out late last fall that enough signatures had been collected in Pocatello to put the ordinance on a May ballot for a possible repeal, Pride Foundation was among the many regional and national organizations that stepped up to offer support, both with funding and manpower, to keep the ordinance in place.

I knew then that I would be heavily involved in the communications outreach and on-the-ground voter canvassing, and I’ll admit – the thought of it all intimidated me a bit at first.

Knocking on doors and talking face-to-face with real people about an issue so particularly personal was not always an easy task. There were the inevitable intolerant folks with outdated and hurtful views about LGBTQ people, and some with strong religious convictions against us. Something I found myself unexpectedly doing, though, was having conversations with these people and challenging their points of view – and in most cases – they took the time to actually listen.

I realized that part of my role with Pride Foundation, and personally as a gay man, is to have these kinds of discussions. It’s harder for people to slam the door on LGBTQ equality when they see a real person whose life is directly impacted by their vote standing on their doorstep.

I don’t know if I changed any of those people’s minds at the voting box, but I know I made them think.

We won in Pocatello by just 56 votes. And we did so because of the coalition of like-minded organizations and individuals who stepped up to partner on the Fair Pocatello campaign, of which Pride Foundation was just one.

I’m proud to have been a part of that campaign, and walk away with a renewed faith that all of Idaho, and our entire nation, will one day embrace LGBTQ equality. It’s just a matter of time – and a few more conversations.

Posted In: Blog, Connecting Leaders, Blog, Idaho