Planning for change

By Trystan Reese, Task Force Senior Field Organizer

I work for the Task Force’s organizing department, Academy for Leadership and Action. We live all over the country, and work in many contexts: we are faith organizers, we run political campaigns, we are the authors of queer anthems, and we convene emerging LGBT leaders from around the country. Our combined movement experience spans over 100 years. Once a year, we come together at a retreat to further build our relationships and strategize for the coming year.

It’s incredibly valuable time to spend with each other, thinking big and getting out of our day-to-day routines. Our retreats are full of fierce passion—so many complicated identities, so much dedication to the work, and so many different ideas about how we create change to get to the transformed world we so desperately long for. Our retreats are also deeply powerful—it is our time to heal our collective hurts, to celebrate our many victories, to mourn friends we have lost in the past year. Our retreats are also fun—we stay up late debating, spend time with nature and take action on campaigns affecting our community.

flipchartphotoWhen we agreed to meet in Oregon this year, I was thrilled. My family and I recently relocated to Portland, and I am now the Deputy Field Director for the Oregon United

for Marriage campaign. We left Los Angeles ONE WEEK before marriages resumed in California, and I was sorely disappointed that I would not be able to marry my partner this year. But we may be able to get married in 2014 right here, if our campaign is successful. So when my entire Task Force department descended upon my new home state, I was eager to put them to work.

Our team was on the ground in Oregon ten years ago, when Measure 36 passed, changing the state’s constitution to prevent LGBT Oregonians from marrying the people they love. And now, a full 10 years later, we are able to right that wrong. Marriage is one of the many issues I feel called to work on, and I am excited to dismantle homophobia and transphobia through this campaign.


All ten members of my team hopped on the phones to ask Oregonians to step up and join a Rapid Response team—they will be the first signature-gatherers when petitions drop in the coming days. Phone banking is not the main strength for everyone on my team, and for some of us who do it often, it can still be hard to make asks of strangers, but everyone participated last night so that people like me can get married here in Oregon, and to move us closer to the transformed world we are working towards. I have already thanked them in person, but I will do so again here.

Thank you to Causten, Kathleen, David, Rebecca, Moof, Sarah, Bex and Evangeline. For recruiting 54 new volunteers who will have a chance to get involved in the Rapid Response Team. For showing people how to make change and to access power. For supporting me and my partner and our kids as we forge a path towards a better world for us. Thank you.