GLAAD sent me to Oregon to support the Marriage Matters campaign by Basic Rights Oregon in mid-March. In the three and a half weeks I’ve been here, I’ve had the incredible opportunity of meeting many gay and lesbian couples from throughout the state. GLAAD has been working to amplify the voices of real Oregonians.
Our work has been to assist lesbian and gay couples to tell their stories.
One of those couples, Shelly and Kristin of Portland, appear in the “Love and Marriage” commercial currently airing throughout the state of Oregon. When I first met Shelly and Kristin, after they got off work on St. Patrick’s Day, we sat and visited for a couple of hours. They were nervous at the idea of having their faces shown and their story told on TV throughout the state. Sure, they’re both out, but to be broadcast statewide – that’s intimidating!
As Shelly told me, “This is outside our comfort zone, but if it’ll help, we’ll do it.”
For a long time, GLAAD’s known that when folks meet LGBT people, when they know us, they’re much more likely to support our full equality.
After I met Shelly and Kristin, it became clear: Who wouldn’t want to know these two? They’re lovely, they’re fun, and they both work hard. They’re extraordinary in just how much they’re exactly the couple you’d hope would move in next door. That night we talked about how they met, what it was like when they got married in Canada, how their families responded to their relationship and marriage, their work, and what life is like as your every day couple in Portland.
Shelly and Kristin sat in front of the cameras for the commercial on the March 21, and the advertisement began airing on March 29. I suspect Kristin and Shelly were still incredibly nervous knowing they’d appear on tv commercials for three weeks.
Last Friday I got a brief email from Shelly. It read, “This is one of the countless phone calls, texts, Facebook messages, etc. Kris and I have received since the commercial aired. Thought you might like to know…. Shelly.”
Shelly went on to forward an email from one of her colleagues at the company where she works.
It was titled, “Your Beautiful Commercial!!!” and I share it here, in part, with Shelly’s permission:
Greetings from your long lost Sales Rep!
We saw your commercial on TV last [night]! WOW. That was so beautiful and you both did such an amazing job. I have re-watched it at least 10 times today!
To be honest, I have in the past been one of those people that was "on the fence" about...equality – ignorance is bliss! I never gave those ideals any extra thought because; I lived in my small world. I have worked [with a gay man] for more than 6 years and through him, and I am not just saying this, and your commercial, which was spot on in the delivery of the message, I understand more everyday.
The message came from the heart. I am pretty sure that when you break it down, into the simplest form, no one can deny that we don’t all operate from the same basic terms of the "heart." Because we do.
What Shelly’s colleague voluntarily offered, is something GLAAD’s known for a long time. The more people know LGBT folks, hear our stories, and understand our lives, the more they come to support us. It’s not enough to assume that our friends and family know that we’re gay, we must discuss marriage and other issues with them.
In the commercial, Shelly says, “We’ve been together for ten years.” Kristin later says, “Getting married is about making that special vow in front of family and friends to be together – forever.”
That’s it, simple.
Shelly and Kristin are telling their story, and GLAAD is privileged to work with them and Basic Rights Oregon in telling that important story. Kristin and Shelly have agreed to keep telling their story and talking about why it’s important to them to get married here in Oregon, and GLAAD remains their partner in helping to amplify their story and others throughout Oregon as part of the Marriage Matters campaign.
Not all reactions are going to be as positive as Shelly’s colleague, but most will be. Today I’m going to talk to people about marriage for lesbian and couples, Kristin and Shelly are as well. Are you?