By Lisa Slankard
As I watched the presidential election results in November 2016, the dread started building. I felt the future would be unbearable and get a lot worse for many groups of people.
I’m of Ashkenazi descent and born in the decade following World War II. So, it’s all not ancient history to me.
Two months after President Trump’s election came the first national Women’s March. I took my 6’5” biracial son with me in Chicago since I don’t like crowds and it’s nice to have someone who can see over the throng. The feeling of being with over 100,000 determined people gave me strength.
I came away knowing the world didn’t have to end. And my journey into activism began.
I joined Mensa back in 1988. I was newly married and pregnant. Life was going well. However, only a few months later I was a mom and going through a divorce. Thankfully, the family I had just made in Mensa was there to help me.
A few years later I met my current husband in Mensa. Because we felt that Mensa changed our lives for the better, we decided to give back to the group so others can also benefit.
When the Rainbow Special Interest Group (SIG) approached the Mensa board about participating in the first Chicago Pride Parade, I supported the endeavor. I was unable to join the first parade but have marched ever since and joined the Rainbow SIG as an ally.
I was totally unprepared for the outpouring of love I experienced at the parade.
Gains for Women, LGBTQ Community
What I’ve learned is there is strength in numbers. We don’t need to be part of a minority to march for rights or participate in parades. I’ve marched and attended rallies for many groups in recent years.
I joined the League of Women Voters and became the Voter Services chairwoman for my local group. Our goal is to educate and encourage voters to participate in our democracy.
One of our programs focused on getting to know LGBTQ neighbors. Young people answered questions about gender and sexuality, providing insights for people the age of their parents and grandparents. I can’t imagine that happening 5 years ago.
In April, Chicago elected a gay, black woman as mayor. I certainly wouldn’t have believed that could happen in recent years.
This isn’t how I planned on spending my golden years, but I’ve gained so much from the experiences I have had.
Band Together for Better Society
Working together, we can benefit all marginalized communities and create the society we want.
The country has made great strides toward equality in the last 100 years. While there have been small setbacks and the progress can be slow, we’re headed in the right direction.
It’s hard to see those rights being repealed. It’s better to fight the loss than having to start over.