Post by Transgender Rights Organizer Christopher Argyros
With the summer finally upon us in Central NY, we had the perfect setting for a successful evening of artistic activism last week at Troy Night Out, a monthly arts and cultural event that takes place every month in downtown Troy. Galleries and stores kept their doors open for the evening, local musicians played all over town, and restaurants were hoppin’. The Pride Agenda shared a storefront space with Human Rights Campaign and Trans Legal Services along the main drag in Troy, which became a sort of LGBT advocacy “headquarters” for the evening.
The Pride Agenda brought art and LGBT advocacy to the evening with our Family Photo Album: Picture Equality project. We took photos of participants out on the street, printed them out at “headquarters” with a portable photo printer, and adhered the photo to a hand-written letter that each participant addressed to their state senator.
This being the first time I had done the photo project at an event, I was a bit nervous that folks would be camera shy or weary of a stranger taking their photo. But as the evening progressed, I met so many eager participants that any apprehension quickly subsided. Two fantastic Pride Agenda volunteers, Bryan and Nic, helped immensely. Bryan manned the table on the sidewalk to encourage people passing by to get involved, while Nic womanned the printer and letter-writing table. I was the guy with the camera, and I had no problem eliciting smiles for marriage equality. With three of us working in tandem, the project ran smoothly, even though at times there was a line at the printing table.
By the end of the night we had a substantial stack of letters, each one sending a personal message to the senators about love and equality - a unique sort of photo album. I was surprised at how moved I was when I got home and had a chance to read through all of the letters together. Many were from straight allies that expressed support for their LGB friends and hope that soon they too would have the right to marry the person they love. One young gay man wrote, “It is my dream to have my brothers and sisters one day attend my wedding as I have attended theirs.” One newlywed same-sex couple wrote, “We just got married in Vermont – all of our friends and family joined us and we had an amazing time. We also spent a lot of money that could have gone to the New York economy if you offered us equal rights.” One letter from a happily married, older straight couple simply read, “Dear Senator, Do the right thing. Vote for Marriage Equality.”
If you would like to be a part of our Family Photo Album, it is not too late! Please send letters with photos to me, Christopher Argyros. We are accepting letters via post (Empire State Pride Agenda, 126 State St, Albany NY 12209) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All letters must be received BY MONDAY JUNE 13th. Be sure to include name and address on each letter!