Dakota OutRight has been making strides in our outreach efforts since receiving grant funding from PFund Foundation, a vital resource and community builder for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied communities by providing grants and scholarships, developing leaders, and inspiring giving. Our volunteer board members have attended regional gatherings of organizations in the Upper Midwest to learn from groups similar to us and even more so, from those that are different.
Part of how we ended up with a “coming out” campaign for allies was due to this outreach work. As part of our discovery into our local LGBTQ community, we hosted two town hall-style listening sessions. At the first, we talked about quality of life – how that was defined and what barriers to quality of life LGBTQ people in our community were experiencing. A second listening event was held with Rep. Joshua Boschee to educate about past, current, and future legislation that affects the LGBTQ community.
We heard many important experiences and reflections, but one recurring theme has been: Where are the allies? Why aren’t more people speaking out?
Many people are supportive and dependable allies, but not necessarily in a public way that has the potential to positively influence others. If we don’t see allies crossing that threshold into the public realm, how can we expect LGBTQ people to feel safe doing so?
So this idea came to be. Support and celebrate National Coming Out Day with a campaign that focuses on “coming out” as an ally – because if that’s where we as a community need to start to build the momentum of social justice into a tipping point that brings about truly equal rights, let’s start now.
We worked with social justice photographer Thomas Hatzenbuhler to create this awareness campaign. Not completely sure how the response would be, we asked. And we asked, and we asked. And we were amazed at how many community members showed up for the photo shoot. And we were even more affected by the responses to the simple question of “Why are you an ally?” They were so diverse, true, and profound that they had to be included.
We hope you find this campaign inspiring – a message that there are people who care, people who are working alongside the LGBTQ community as we work toward equality. And they’re willing to speak out.
Please help us keep the momentum going by participating at home. Take a photo. Tell us why you’re an ally. Tag it #comingoutND and we’ll share your contributions in a gallery.
Thanks for being part of our story,
on behalf of Dakota OutRight