Once, sometime before I got involved in politics and campaigning and such, I read a story online that I thought was really cool. I don't remember who it was or where I read it, but it was about these two girls who were out canvassing for something or other - a candidate, or a ballot measure, something regarding gay rights, out in the middle of suburbia. They knocked on one door and a sweet elderly lady answered and invited them in and introduced them to the other woman living in the house, and as they spoke it became clear that they were life-partners, and that this was something that had always been a secret.
I went into my internship at the Obama campaign wanting something like that to happen.
And then it became very clear that I either am not a people person or I just have awful luck.
I don't know what it is - the people I'm canvassing with will get into great 15 minute conversations while I get doors slammed in my face. The people I'm phone banking with will recruit volunteer after volunteer while I get politely turned down. Not that I don't have great conversations, but they're so few and far between that I was starting to think I'd never get a cool lesbian campaign story to tell.
The other night, I was making phone calls inviting people to a party we're having to watch Obama make his acceptance speech. The woman who answered the phone for what must have been at least the 40th call on my list was polite and an enthusiastic supporter, so I told her about the party.
"Oh, sorry, I have plans that night. Which campaign are you with?" I told her. "Oh, okay. see, my girlfriend works with the campaign in the next county over, she's having a party."
The fact that she could talk about her girlfriend so casually to a complete stranger on the phone - even a Democratic phone-banking one - took me a bit by surprise. I managed to stumble through the rest of the conversation by saying variations of "Oh, that's so awesome!" while she told me about the work she and her girlfriend were doing with the campaign. And then I went and made 20 more boring, scripted calls.
It was hardly a touching story, but I noticed after the fact how delightfully casual it was. I love that people - not everyone, obviously, but increasing numbers - can be out and it's not a big deal. Maybe it's just the safety of the Democratic bubble, but there's something to be said for it, anyway.
I'm used to the stories I hear from adults being about frightening, complicated coming-out experiences. Surely, to go from campaign stories about quiet, secret relationships and difficult coming-outs to stories about carefree conversations where acceptance is assumed counts as some kind of progress.