Gene Otto – I’d Like You To Know

“Oh my God! We’ve got to start over.”

This morning I was calling people [about the electoral victory on marriage equality]: people that have worked, and worked, and worked. I said, “Oh, I hate to gloat, but my God, we’ve made a big difference!” [I’m] congratulating them, on us getting this marriage thing through. We’ve all worked, and worked, and worked. If it hadn’t been for those people that I’m calling, thanking, congratulating, and saying these things to, we wouldn’t be able to do this interview today. We’d still all be in Montana in the closet behind a locked door.

You can’t imagine how many people . . . They just can’t be who they are. Then others are out. How do they not see the out people as good? You always want them to feel good about themselves. Look at the good people. You could be one. You can add to the thing. Yeah, it’s far exceeded our expectation in this short world.

Helen [Bonser] and I laughed. We called ourselves “shitsters.” We said we were separated at birth. We were terrible, because we were always out there pushing somebody’s buttons. You don’t look at it as like you’re marching with the Million Man March on D. C. or something. But then, when in [‘93], I was at the March on D. C. , there were over a million people. They sold more than that in wrist bands alone, so we pretty much have that. You just felt you were part of the movement that was so positive it couldn’t be stopped. It wasn’t like you were trying to steal babies from people or, you know, negative, negative, negative. You were out there for the positive and the good. This is way back when I was a Republican. I grew up that way. [Laughs.] I’ve learned to read since then!

Katie [Urbanek] and I, at [PFLAG’s] 13th anniversary party, we said, “Oh my God! We’ve got to start over,” thinking what we’re going to do next. “We’ve accomplished most of the goals. We got to have new goals, rather than say, ‘Oh, we got it done. Hands off. Go home.’” It was like, “Oh, what are we doing? Tuesday, coffee. We’re having another meeting of minds.” You know, you’re going to make it, and you’re going to make it different. We made mistakes . . . Oh, Lordy. Did we make mistakes! You took a learning attitude towards them. “Okay, what didn’t we get accomplished? Why?” This election [on marriage equality], I think, proved you’ve got to keep giving as far you can get. If you get others to do it and not just yourself, you make a bigger impact. So that’s my activity level. [Laughs.] Engaging others.

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Sources: Interview with Susan Williams on 3 December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture; interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 27 November 2012.