Updated after the jump
Editor's Note: Jim Toevs was a member of the founding Board of Directors, and is a past President of The Pride Foundation of Seattle. In 1990, he co-founded the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, (IGLHRC) with Roman Kalinin and Julie Dorf. In 1992, Jim was the Democratic nominee for Congress against then-closeted Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe, garnering 77,000 votes- which at that time was the most votes ever received by a gay non-incumbent gay person running for Congress. Jim has presented his workshop, "Your Money and Your Life" to three Gill Foundation Outgiving Conferences. He resides in Hot Springs, Montana and Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.
Twenty-one years ago, on the occasion of the first National Coming Out Day, October 11, 1987, I was one of three LBGT folks featured, with photo, on the front page of USA Today in an article written by Craig Wilson. At that time, I was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Pride Foundation, and Vice-President of Corporate Real Estate for Seattle-First National Bank, living with my then-partner in Seattle
Every year since then, I have looked for the opportunity to "take my next step" in the coming out process.
For several years, I have lived in rural Montana in the middle of the Flathead Indian Reservation in the town of Hot Springs, population 541. Everyone who knows me, and anyone who cares to know, knows that I am gay.
Yesterday, I saw an article on Raw Story about Rednecks 4 Obama. It was a story about two older Missouri men who were tired of the Karl Rove tactics of equating God, Guns, and NASCAR with voting Republican. They made up a big "Rednecks 4 Obama" banner and have been present at the site of both the Vice-Presidential Debate and last week's Presidential Debate in Nashville, where they have caused quite a stir.
An idea began to form in my head. I called the Printery in the neighboring town of Plains and asked them to make of a 3' x 8' vinyl banner that said:
MONTANA REDNECKS 4 OBAMA
Yesterday afternoon I went over and picked up the banner and have been contemplating how to put it to use ever since. This evening, while soaking in the hot springs here in town, I came up with the answer.
Tomorrow morning, I will park my pickup across the street from the Post Office and hang the "MONTANA REDNECKS 4 OBAMA" banner on the plumber's rack of my old Toyota pickup, directly in the line of sight of every person who exits the Post Office parking lot.
One of the things I have learned over the years is that EVERYONE needs to come out about something. I have also learned that it is important for me to walk THROUGH my fear. If I allow myself to be afraid of one thing, sooner or later I will be afraid of everything.
So, this National Coming Out Day, my next step will be coming out as a "Montana Redneck 4 Obama". Am I a little scared? You damn right! But I am just going to go ahead and do it anyway.
"My Montana Rednecks 4 Obama" banner is the talk of the town. I went to a Chili Feed fund raiser at the Senior Center for dinner tonight, and got lots of positive comments, and no negative ones.
My business is located just down the street from where the truck was parked, and I could observe people's reaction from a distance all day without my being observed.
There were no threats, no birds flipped, no slashed tires. Everyone in town knows my truck, so several folks came into my warehouse and made supportive comments. NOBODY said they were supporting McCain. Many for Obama and some for Bob Barr and Ron Paul.
One of the reasons Obama will carry Montana is the fact that Barr in on the ballot as a Libertarian and Ron Paul is on the ballot as a Constitutionalist. They will each poll enough votes that combined they should deny McCain our three Electoral votes.
Plus we have a very strong Democratic ticket with Obama for President, Sen. Max Baucus, and Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
I look for a landslide of FDR/1932 proportions. History does repeat itself.
The last time a Republican Arizona Senator ran for President was Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964, and he got clobbered by LBJ in a landslide of epic proportions.
Personally, the most important thing I learned from this experience today was to reaffirm the fact that when I feel fear about coming out about anything, I just go ahead and do it anyway.
FDR said it best: "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself."
Onward and Upward!