Why I Volunteer: Making Up for Lost Time
April 24, 2013 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by Tyler Cegler is the Co-Chair for Membership and Community Events with HRC Colorado
Growing up in rural Montana, it’s hard for me to remember if there was a strong anti-gay sentiment, or if I was just fearful of such sentiment if I were to come out. Regardless, it took moving to Colorado for graduate school to finally push me out of the closet. Once that was done, I felt responsible for somehow giving back to the community that had welcomed me with open arms. One of the first visible public acts of coming out was putting the ubiquitous blue and gold equality sticker on my car. It was a way to identify with supporters and allies. Others would just assume I liked math—a lot.
While there are many, many great LGBTQ clubs, organizations, services, and lobbying groups, I felt the Human Rights Campaign was the best fit for me. This was due in part because HRC is all of those things. We provide social activities for the community, lobby at the local, state, and national level, provide services for our communities, and partner with and support other like-minded organizations within our communities. I can turn to our volunteers here in Colorado, but I can also pick up the phone to speak with the national organization in Washington, D.C.
I volunteer because I want to make up for lost time. I spent 25 years in the closet, and I refuse to hide who I am any longer.
I volunteer because I want to show others that being “out” is actually kind of awesome. There is support from all the members within our community. Had it not been for the open arms and shoulders to cry on of friends, coming out would have been far more difficult. I want others to know that my arms are open and my ears are ready.
I volunteer because I believe in social justice. While the issue of marriage is the dominant headline of the movement at the moment, I appreciate that HRC is not a single-minded organization. HRC helps to fight for immigration, health care issues, safe schools, job safety and security, and helping others come out.
I volunteer with HRC Colorado, because of their support of the whole state. It can be easy living in the middle of Denver’s gayborhood to forget about those who live in less-welcoming environments. This year, HRC Colorado will have a presence at 4 different pride celebrations; Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction.
Lastly, I volunteer because it is simply the right thing to do. I would encourage everyone to spend a little time each month, making our community, our state, and our nation a better place. It doesn’t have to be through an LGBTQ organization, but find your cause, your issues, your passion, and go for it!
Sign up to volunteer with other HRC communities at www.hrc.org/volunteer.