Editor's Note: You've seen Steven Colbert's "Better Know a Lobbyist," but our version is so much gayer! Each weekend, we spotlight a different TBP contributor. In case you've missed any of our previous interviews, I've got links at the end of the post.
This week we're talking to Michael Crawford. No, not the Phantom of the Opera Michael Crawford. The other Michael Crawford. Michael has more than 15 years experience working in gay and AIDS activism including stints with the Human Rights Campaign and as an organizing of the Millennium March on Washington for LGBT Civil Rights. He is a longtime TBP contributor as was on the edteam until his responsibilities with the Obama campaign caused him to take a step back.
Follow me after the jump to find out more about MIchael's work with Senator Obama.
1. How did you get involved with TBP?
I came on Bil's radar screen when I wrote a couple of posts for my personal blog Bloggernista throwing a bit of online shade at gay conservatives. And in a Miranda Priestley moment, Bil decided to take a chance on the smart, fat girl and invited me to join the Bilerico family. I'm no fool and jumped at the chance.
2. What was your coming out experience like?
I came out of the closet at 16 way back in the day before the internet. There was the typical high school homo drama involving bullying jocks, super secret crushes on other boys and Black Southern Baptists.
I came out even further in my early 20s by getting involved in the Houston chapters of ACT UP and Queer Nation. That included my first time being in the newspapers as an "avowed homosexual" and to the shock and surprise of my grandmother's church-going friends, the first time I was shown on the television news kissing another guy. I think they were more shocked at seeing me kiss someone white than they were at seeing me kiss someone of the same sex.
It is kind of cliché to say, but coming out is a continual process and I am not the kind of boy that wants to be mistaken for a heterosexual. Not that I have a problem with their lifestyle. Most people generally assume that a person is straight until proven otherwise and I like to dispel that notion about myself immediately usually within the first 30 seconds of meeting a person.
3. How did you get involved with Obama's campaign?
I have been a supporter of Sen. Obama for president before he even announced that he was running. His speech from the 2004 Democratic Convention is on my iPod and I listen to it whenever I need a burst of inspiration.
I am a volunteer with the campaign mostly through Obama Pride, a national network of LGBT supporters dedicated to making sure that Sen. Obama is our next president. I am a site adviser to the independent site www.lgbtforobama.com that is the place for members of the LGBT community and our allies to get information on the dramatic differences between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain on our issues. The site is also a place were people can make donations directly to the campaign that will be counted as contributions coming from the LGBT community.
4. What has been the most rewarding part, so far, of working for Obama?
As I said, I am a volunteer with the campaign and aside from the fact that this is the most important election for our country in at least a generation, I continue to volunteer with the campaign because of the great people that I get to work with like Phil Attey. Phil is the driving force behind Obama Pride - Metro DC
LGBT voters are going to be key in turning the states like Florida and Virginia blue and helping to elect Sen. Obama as our next president.
I am one of those damned organizers, both professionally and recreationally, that Sarah Palin warned you about, so for me to be able to volunteer for a candidate that I believe in wholeheartedly, work with the LGBT community and make amazing new friends is what keeps me coming back.
5. What is your wildest dream?
I am looking forward to the day when no LGBT kid ever feels ashamed of who they are or thinks that being LGBT is somehow going to stop them from accomplishing every single goal that they set for themselves. And, I think it is our jobs as LGBT adults to create that kind of world for them.
What's your favorite thing to do when you don't think anyone is looking?
I tend to do things whether anyone is looking or not,and like everybody else I have made some serious mistakes. At some you realize that people will either like you or they won't, they will either respect you or they won't and that it is not about living your life based on what others may think, but about being yourself and that is more than good enough.
Check out previous interviews with TBP Contributors
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Rev. Irene Monroe