By Brenda Duverce (She/They)
As a 2019 Victory Empowerment Fellow, I had the opportunity to participate in the Victory Institute’s Candidate and Campaign Training (CCT) in August. As an aspiring politician, attending a CCT helped me get a taste of what the campaign train will look like as an Out Queer Black Womxn and how I can build a successful run for office. Prior to this training, I had no idea what to expect and how to run a campaign, and to be fair, I likely still won’t know until the big day when I do announce my campaign. But I can say that leaving this training made me feel much more prepared and confident in my ability to work alongside a team – and to win! I hope I can share a few things with you all on what I learned to support others within our community who may have a strong interest to run someday.
Leveraging Your Network is Key
After the CCT finished, I had a moment to reflect on one of the most basic aspects of life that is critical to running a successful campaign – leveraging your network. As simple as this sounds, I never thought about how my network of friends and family will be the ones to help me raise funds for my campaign (both by giving and also asking others to) and also will be the ones to knock on doors for me in the dead heat of summer or in the bitter cold days of winter. It’ll be these folks you’ll be relying on, which is why it is critical to build your comfort level in asking for help and support for little things while you can now (and also returning the favor when possible).
Never Forget Why You Are Running
As we all know, sometimes campaigns can bring out the negativity in people and some people may try to use our identity as their punching bag. As future openly LGBTQ candidates, we must be prepared for this, and the one thing I think can help us get through some of the negativity is to remember why we’re running. This is especially true for any challenging situations that will come from the campaign, whether it is negative attacks on your identity, your family, or just the general difficulties of getting through a campaign (work life balance, missing family events, etc.). Why you’re running will be important.
You Deserve to Be Here Because You’re More Than Capable
This last piece of advice is for the folks who are like me and sometimes let their insecurities get the best of them. Even while in campaign training, I kept asking myself, “How did I get selected for this amazing opportunity?” Try to silence these thoughts because you deserve this just as much as anyone else. Your experience and ideas may just be the factors that help make life for the next generation safer, more equal, and just generally, better. You, my friends, deserve to be here more than anybody else.
I’m still in awe of the opportunity I had through the Victory Institute, getting to know fellow LGBTQ folks interested in running for office someday. Whether you decide to run now or in the future, I highly recommend taking at least one training to help you learn the ins and out of how to win. If you’re interested in participating in a training, you can find more information here.