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Life After the NDO: A primer for local LGBT activists

Photo: Photo by Mary Tuma, License: N/A

Photo by Mary Tuma

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Let’s be real. For supporters, the long road towards the passage of the Non-Discrimination Ordinance (NDO) has been exhausting. Scratch that. Maybe “excruciating” would be a better word. Once that victory is won, very likely on September 5, there will be a need for the city’s LGBT community and its allies to figure out what to do next. Here’s one guide for doing just that.

First – Rest and rejuvenate. Every person I’ve talked to who has worked in support of the NDO is fatigued. Activist/volunteer fatigue is a very real thing, and it has been felt by many. Often, those of us involved in a multitude of causes forget that we can’t help others unless we take care of ourselves. (It’s the same reason why airline safety regulations tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others!) So by all means, take a time out.

Second – Be thankful. There will be so much to be thankful for. Most importantly, write or call the mayor’s office and all of the city council members who supported the NDO to let them know how grateful you are that they supported such an important and historic measure. Trust me: they’ve been beaten up by this, especially District 1 council member Diego Bernal, who took on the NDO initiative. They will appreciate messages of thanks, and they’ll appreciate your donations even more. Also, be thankful for the many new friends and experiences of solidarity that were gained from this experience.

Third – Educate. Pardon the cliché, but it’s best to strike while the iron is hot. Now is the time to keep the conversation rolling. In a respectful way, talk with family members, friends and perhaps even co-workers to let them know more about who we are and how these issues can often affect us directly. Also, and this may be hard, but with all the vocal opposition, there is an enormous need to educate those who were against the NDO, from council members who voted “nay” to pastors to other community leaders and individuals. Hearts and minds rarely change in moments of direct adversity, but there are always opportunities in the aftermath, once emotions have cooled.

Fourth – Re-Focus. The NDO is not the end-all, be-all. How will our community continue to grow and support each other after this major event has passed? One way, I hope, is to continue supporting the new LGBT community center, Pride Center San Antonio (Full disclosure: I’m the board chairman of that organization.) The Center aspires to be a hub for the LGBT community and safe place to gather for individuals and for the over 50 LGBT-focused organizations around San Antonio. If the Pride Center itself doesn’t interest you, their website (, which lists community resources and other ways to get involved, might.

Regardless of where, stay involved. Our legacy as a united community begins once the NDO is passed. It’s up to us to keep that momentum going.

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