LGBTQ people making a difference in Senate runoffs

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Ever wondered how Georgia Equality’s local office pulls off a year-round effort that stretches well beyond the legislature and the confines of metro Atlanta? In a word, volunteers.

Alexa Bryant, development and communications coordinator for Georgia Equality, called volunteers “critical” to the organization. In the midst of two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia, LGBTQ volunteers make a big impact.

“Volunteers are able to take our mission, and our message, and carry it to the ‘doorsteps’ of Georgians from one state line to the other,” Bryant said. “We would not be able to do this work around the runoff if we did not have a dedicated arsenal of volunteers.”

Including Bryant, GE’s local headquarters only has eight staffers, so they rely on the community at large, she said.

People who donate time to Georgia Equality engage voters, sway lawmakers and mobilize the community.

Nic Clark (second photo, below) has done all of those things and more.

“Georgia Equality keeps me reeled in because of their dogged commitment to ensuring that people in the LGBTQIA+ population can fully participate in society,” Clark told Project Q. “I’ve never felt so appreciated and embraced by any organization I’ve volunteered with.”

The work suits Clark, who joined Georgia Equality’s efforts last year. They got started early in life fighting for what’s right, they said.

“I have fought for social justice ever since I rallied my classmates to confront the overt racism of my first-grade teacher,” Clark said.

But you don’t have to be a lifetime organizer like Clark to make a huge difference. Georgia Equality has a network of experts to help anyone be of service, Bryant said.

“The truly beautiful thing about volunteering with us is that a volunteer becomes connected to a larger community of activists and community organizers, allowing them to learn and grow from wherever they are,” Bryant said. “I think an important quality for an activist or community leader to have is a learning spirit.”

“Anyone that wants to get involved and do the work is wanted and welcomed here, no matter where they are on their journey,” she added. “To be honest, Georgia Equality is an amazing place to start, and you don’t need any expert to tell people to vote!”

Georgia Equality Volunteer Nic Clark

Time is now 

As the Senate runoffs put the state in the spotlight and LGBTQ equality on the ballot, Georgia Equality needs “all hands on deck,” Bryant said. Volunteers for phone and text banking are the most immediate need.

“So much of our future as a state is riding on the results of Jan. 5,” she asserted. “We need every registered voter to show up, and it’s going to continue to take the efforts and commitment of volunteers to make that happen.”

Georgia Equality Outreach Manager Shannon Clawson agreed. She pointed to the dual Senate runoffs as a chance to effect change far beyond Georgia.

“This election is really about protecting our community,” she said. “If we can pass the Equality Act out of the Senate, we will finally secure housing and employment protections not only for ourselves, but for our friends and LGBTQ family across the South.”

“This fight is deeply personal for us, and that’s what really makes the difference in terms of LGBTQ voter turnout and volunteer engagement,” Clawson added.

That sentiment is organization-wide, according to Clark. They felt a sense of accomplishment as part of a tight-knit GE team. Their LGBT Lobby Day work earlier this year helped garner support for a state hate crimes bill, and get-out-the-vote efforts went toward an LGBTQ-rich Team Biden win in November.

“I’m in awe of how they have made such strides in promoting equality despite their small size,” Clark said. “Georgia Equality welcomes any and all. You feel like you’re in the company of genuine friends while volunteering. That’s why Georgia Equality has become a fixture in my life.”

Ever the motivator, Clark offered a pro-level elevator pitch for potential volunteers.

“Do you like a good time? Do you want to do your part to right some of the wrongs that permeate our community? Well, spend even just one hour volunteering with Georgia Equality. I promise you’ll accomplish both and keep coming back for more,” they said.

To volunteer for Georgia Equality, visit their online portal or send them an e-mail inquiry.

This story is made possible by a grant from the Election SOS Rapid Response Fund.

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