Amplify My Voice by Brie Gates (A’20)

by tuftsigl
Aug 02

Things at the National LGBTQ Task Force have been ramping up since I arrived here in early June. It is hard to believe that over half the summer has already flown by, but I am so proud of the work my team and I have accomplished in such a short amount of time.

One of our big, ongoing projects involves All of Me. All the Time., a national public education campaign created by the Task Force to ensure that people can be open about all the intersecting, marginalized identities that they hold without having to be afraid.  Part of All of Me. All the Time. is designed to educate members of Congress on how discrimination affects the lives of LGBTQ people. In order to do so, I and other interns have been phone banking to gather stories of discrimination. We are trying to collect as many stories as possible to represent various experiences, especially those of people and communities most impacted. We are particularly invested in talking with people of color, people with disabilities, transgender, and gender non-conforming folks. I was able to talk with many people around the country who are passionate about changing federal laws in order to protect all of us, all the time. We plan to use these stories to appeal to our U.S. Senators and Representatives, showing them the real impact of discrimination in people’s daily lives, rather than just using statistics.

I was also lucky enough to attend the Platform Women 2019 Conference in DC, featuring great workshops and informative panels on topics ranging from education to justice reform. The Platform Conference is designed to “ensure young women identified folx’s [folks’] voices influence political decisions about our bodies, our lives, and our futures” through lobbying action across the country. 

My favorite moment from the conference was listening to Brittany Packnett’s phenomenal keynote address. In addition to being an educator and writer in the activist world, Brittany served on President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, enacting policy changes and influencing the conversation around police brutality. In her speech, Brittany talked about the ways in which being raised in the US’ white dominant culture teaches us to hoard power rather than share it to accomplish a common goal. We need to be mindful of the space we occupy in order to empower communities and make space for the most marginalized voices among us. She also spoke about Campaign Zero, an organization she co-founded to help find comprehensive solutions to end police violence in America. Her words were incredibly moving, and I am excited to take what I have learned from her and apply it to my work at the Task Force.

The last day of the conference was both exciting and terrifying as we ventured to Capitol Hill to lobby for various issues impacting our communities. I and three other Florida natives visited the offices of Representatives Ross Spano and Donna Shalala, as well as Senator Marco Rubio. We spoke with the congressional staffers about climate change, abortion access, and education funding; it felt incredible to take direct action in DC by meeting with my representatives and sharing information about important causes near to my heart.

Outside of work, I was fortunate enough to meet and speak with Danica Roem, a personal hero of mine, at one of her reelection campaign events in the city. Danica is the first openly transgender congressperson to both be elected and serve in any U.S. state legislature. She is a fierce advocate for equal rights and local issues that impact her constituents in Manassas, Virginia, like poor road conditions. Through Tisch Summer Fellows, I was connected to a Tufts alumna, Holly Micozzi, who has been offering me amazing advice throughout the summer, and she was generous enough to sponsor my ticket to Danica’s event. It was an opportunity I will never forget, and I am incredibly grateful.

With only three weeks left until I head back home, I am doing my best to savor every moment in DC. Each day at the Task Force brings its own set of engaging challenges that push me to become a better version of myself with each obstacle I overcome. Soon I will be able to step back and reflect on all that I have accomplished over the summer, and hopefully have some time to catch my breath.