I recently interviewed Adam Taylor, vice-chair of the Michigan Democratic Party's LGBT and Allies Caucus and founder of Project Light, a suicide and crisis-prevention project for LGBT youth. One may never guess that Adam, for all his political involvement, is still a student at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. I discussed with him his involvement in the LGBT movement, the efforts of the LGBTA Caucus, and the effects of his efforts on policy-making in Michigan.
Q: How did you come to be involved in politics and the LGBT movement?
A: I was outed while slowly coming out. After a high school prank by my former high school swim team left mild burns on my genital area, I met someone over the weekend for coffee who was starting a Gay-Straight Alliance. I decided against the school administration and my parents' wishes to do it, and since then have been very passionately involved in the equality movement and GLBT youth services, from HIV prevention and support, to suicide prevention, counseling, coming out, and developing anti-bullying policies.
It's been about three and-a-half years since then, and today I am now the founder and Executive Director of Project Light (www.projectlight.info), a GLBT youth crisis prevention 501(c)3, and since February 2009 the Michigan Democratic Party's appointed Vice Chair of the LBGTA Caucus, heading most work in West Michigan through an office I just recently opened. Our main work currently is on the Anti Bullying Bill which I have worked on since January 2006.
Q: What are the current state-level legislative goals of the LGBT Caucus?
A: Currently our main focus is on Senate Bill 159 as introduced by Senator Anderson. It's the Michigan Anti-Bullying Policy Bill that contains enumeration, definition of what are traits of bullying and all school areas of responsibility such as telecommunications, bussing, etc.
Q: What have been the greatest successes of the LGBT Caucus since you have joined?
A: We have passed a resolution in Washtenaw County for transgender inclusion in healthcare, we have endorsed the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality's City Ordinance for Non-Discrimination, and I spoke and presented it while at the five-hour city forum on whether or not GLBT persons should be allowed to be discriminated against in housing, employment, and public accommodation. We have also formed a lobby day for SB159, worked to get the full Michigan Democratic Party behind it, and are working with NGO's at the state and national levels to support the bill, with the current list hitting around 20-30.
We have also opened a West Michigan Field Office in Kalamazoo, located in the Kalamazoo County Democratic Headquarters, so that we can overcome geography of the state and build a better empowerment force from the grassroots up, and are looking at soon starting possible paid staff positions for the top chairs, such as myself, to allow us to give our full attention every day to these efforts. In the long term, we hope to take on same sex marriage, healthcare, and second-parent adoption.
Q: What tactics are most commonly employed by the caucus to influence Michigan policy-making?
A: Building a grassroots-up approach and getting around the state as much as possible to spread the word, and hear the wants [of the LGBT community].
Also, we cannot stress enough that we need allies to pass anything [in the legislature]. Our allies are so critical to any work towards equality, and we are always working with other caucuses and NGO's to ensure that we help them and they help us so that as a progressive community we are all together moving forward.
Q: How would you say that your views of state politics and policy-making have been affected by your participation in the process?
A: I have found that I do not want to leave the state of Michigan like so many youth organizers do after graduation, and feel that it's critical that organizing for long and short-term goals be maintained in the GLBT movement, and that the more collaboration is needed. Today, so many groups exist, which is amazing to see, yet so often they do not know what the others are doing, capable of, or what any joint effort could yield.
I would love to continue working to link the MDP LBGTA powers and resources in efforts with many NGO's in a massive coalition that is currently being forged, and hope to, as we joke, "be gay for pay", get hired to work for these efforts full-time in Michigan, and coordinate the many aspects of NGO and MDP affairs with the many equality issues currently in play.
MDP LGBT and Allies Caucus (Facebook):