Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Equality & Justice Day – “Strengthening the community we all work so hard to build”

Below is the third post in our series of E&J stories. Check back with us in the weeks leading up to E&J Day for more – and don’t forget to register for E&J Day.

Ceridwen Troy, Youth Program Assistant at the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, Rochester:

There's a saying that goes, roughly, "It's not the destination that's important, it's the journey." For me, this saying easily sums up my feelings about Equality & Justice Day. While it might be known casually as the "Pride Agenda Lobby Day," Equality & Justice Day is about so much more than just going to Albany to lobby.

For me, Equality & Justice Day means getting up at four in the morning and gathering in the parking lot behind The Village Gate with four huge buses and enough Rochesterians to fill them. It means a four hour trip to Albany with a bus full of Gay Alliance Youth Program members. It means watching the sun rise out the window, watching the youth as they interact with each other, watching movies on the overhead TV. Those four hours give us so many opportunities to connect in ways different from those inside the walls of the Youth Center. The center is a place for hanging out and finding support, but this trip shifts everyone's focus to their activism, to making a difference, and to seeing our needs met by the state government. With that shift in focus comes a shift in the conversations we have, about previous years' trips, about the activism they're doing in school, and about all kinds of topics we never thought we'd share with each other (four hours there and four hours back, after all, make up a lot of conversation time to fill!)

Those conversations build connections that last throughout the year, strengthening the community we all (staff, volunteers and youth) work so hard to build inside our center.

Then we get to Albany, to the Convention Center. Seeing just how many people come from all over New York is so inspiring. It's often easy, as an activist, to feel like you're alone in this work. Even when you know consciously that there are other activists and allies at your side, it can often feel like you're trudging through this by yourself. To see this huge mass of people gathered for the same cause can be very reinvigorating. It was especially wonderful for me to see the tables of people gathered from the rural areas of New York, the places where I grew up.

The connections made at Equality & Justice Day are so important to me, whether between the members of our youth community here in Rochester, or between activists all across this state; more important to me than the act of lobbying itself. This year's trip might lead to success or it might not, but those connections are what will sustain this community throughout this phase of the movement and beyond.

Want to join us in Albany for Equality & Justice Day? Click here for more information or to register.

No comments: