Finding My Voice in Politics
One of my goals for 2018 was to get involved in politics. The recent pendulum swing towards a toxic political environment across the world had me feeling restless and like I needed to do something. The last era of my life has been punctuated with me talking about allyship, social justice, and positive change - and it was time for me to walk the talk.
I’ve voted in every election possible since I was 18 - having immigrated here with my family when I was young, my parents instilled in me the importance of our Canadian citizenship. I know that voting is my right and responsibility. But I knew that I had to do more. I knew that I could do more.
In 2018, I’ve been had the pleasure of working on a nomination campaign, a provincial campaign and a municipal campaign - volunteering my time on social media, door-to-door canvassing, and phone banking.
And it was scary. The first meeting I went to for that first nomination campaign meeting, I didn’t know anyone else going. I remember the first time someone on that campaign asked me what I thought, and I was absolutely taken aback. Who I was to have an opinion on political strategy? I’d never worked one before.
But that taught me something important… or rather it reminded me of something that I myself had been preaching for awhile. Something that was a fundamental part of my career, identity, and life philosophy.
My voice matters. My lived experience matters. My story matters.
“My identity is a passport to communities.” - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
In an interview on In The Thick, Ocasio-Cortez said this, and it has stayed with my since I first heard it back in July. It speaks to my identity as a Latino. As an immigrant. As a queer man. As someone living with multiple sclerosis. As a university-educated man. A downtown Torontonian. Our identities show the communities we’re from and what communities we interact with. And our stories from our communities inform our worldviews, our values, and our political opinions.
At a meeting during one of the campaigns, we were asked to write down why we chose to get involved. In addition to believing in the candidate wholeheartedly, and believing that her voice belonged in politics, I also wrote down that it was because my voice mattered, was underrepresented, and needed to be heard. And I still have that slip of paper, and I look at it frequently still to serve as a reminder to myself, especially during times that I might get downtrodden, frustrated, or when I need a reminder of why this matters.
I talk about active hope. And so I needed to live it. I needed to take a stand, and give what I could. No, I don’t know all the ins and outs of being involved in politics. I’m not a policy wonk. I’m not an expert on many (or any) of the issues.
But I do know that I can knock on doors. I can pick up the phone. I can donate. I can vote.
I know that my voice matters.