By Michael Mortensen,
an Our Family Coalition Communications & Media Coordinator for Summer 2015
It is 9:12 and the San Francisco BART train will be coming any minute. I make my way through the crowd, and squeeze into the closest car. Today is my first day at Our Family Coalition as a communications intern, and I cannot be late.
I have been looking forward to starting this internship since the moment I applied. Ever since I visited San Francisco this past December, I knew I had to get an internship there. “Communications intern needed for Bay area LGBTQ Family non-profit”. I have always wanted to get involved in the LGBTQ community, I am great with kids, and it is in San Francisco! This was the perfect internship for me.
I quickly learned that the working with Our Family Coalition is so much more than posting on Facebook and sending a few tweets. On a daily basis I was challenged, and almost convicted, by my previously held beliefs and opinions. I thought I knew about the problems and discrimination LGBTQ families faced, but this Arizonian came to realize that he still had (and has) so much to learn.
Our Family Coalition provides an outlet for Bay area LGBTQ families to come together and create a world of inclusion, advocacy, and social justice. This includes creating LGBTQ education, supporting policy, and gender neutral bathrooms. Coming from a conservative state, this was all very new to me. It never occurred to me that these issues existed, and how important fighting these social injustices are for children and families.
I had the privilege to witness history in the making at San Francisco City Hall an early June morning, to hear mayor Ed Lee, NCLR’s Kate Kendell, and Gavin Newsom speak about this win for America. I still cannot believe that I was literally there when Marriage Equality became nationwide, and at the place where it all started, at the heart of San Francisco. And yet, this was only the beginning.
Before this internship, I thought marriage was the final step to LGBTQ discrimination, but there is still so much more to be done. Transgender rights, black rights, LGBTQ adoption and foster care, and LGBTQ family protection are just some of the many issues OFC is tackling. Our Family Coalition is making a real difference in the Bay Area, and throughout my time here, I was educated on these issues and their importance. Before, I thought “hey, this doesn’t affect me” but now I am beginning to realize that yes, it actually does, because it affects everyone. I have the freedom to marry, but I cannot take this for granted. It took decades of hard work and unprecedented violence for change to happen. I no longer want to stand on the sidelines watching social justice take place. I want to be in the crowd and on the front lines, demanding change
Living in the Bay Area this summer, I grew my digital communications skills, maturity, but most importantly I developed a new responsibility to use this momentum of change to make a difference. I want to inspire others back at home to join the crowd, educate themselves, and advocate for real equality.