Last evening, I joined Pat Edmonson and members of her campaign staff at In Between, a gay bar in Virginia Beach. She joined patrons who were there for a show hosted by Fushia Deville, and was given a few minutes to speak about who she is, her campaign for Lt. Governor, and how she would represent the GLBT community. After speaking, Pat made her way around the room, speaking with everyone at length. She and her campaign spent over three hours at In Between, and were enthusiastically accepted and supported; raising over $600, effectively over $1,200 with current matching donations from a generous donor. All in all, I'd say it was a really good night for Edmonson and her campaign.
Many have asked what Edmonson's affinity for the gay community is based on. Some have even taken to extremely personal and ridiculously inappropriate attacks on her and her staff on the issue. It's no secret that one of Edmonson's beliefs is the "inherent worth of all people." She has been the only state-wide candidate who has openly spoken about GLBT issues and has proactively reached out to the gay community.
Up until last night, I didn't know why Edmonson felt so connected with, and was willing to fight for, the gay community. People have asked me, and I haven't had an answer. Now I do.
During Pat Edmonson's tenure as director of the National Hemophilia Association in the 80's, AIDS became a significant issue and threat to the blood supply often needed by hemophiliacs. She worked with the gay community to promote changes that would protect the supply of blood, and slow the spread HIV. According to Pat, the members of the gay community she worked with were the only group who readily and successfully advocated for lifestyle changes to prevent the spread of AIDS and ensure a viable supply of blood for those who needed it. It is from her work to protect the supply for blood for hemophiliacs and the efforts of the gay community to help her that her advocacy of GLBT issues stems. As she said last evening, the gay community didn't turn their back on her, and she'll never turn her back on the gay community.
Some have said that the gay community in Virginia Beach isn't "out" enough to be politically involved. From what I saw last night, I don't think this is the case. I think this group needs people who are willing to stand for them and not resort to speaking in hushed tones about their issues. They need candidates and officials like Pat Edmonson who are outspoken advocates for equality. As she travels throughout the state, reaching out to these people, they may turn out to be a significant untapped resource for moving Virginia forward.
If you believe in progressive values and that Democrats need to act like Democrats and stand up for all people in the commonwealth, please support Pat Edmonson. Contributions made in the next 48 hours will be matched, meaning your $25 is worth $50 to the campaign. Make your contribution go further by donating now.
Special thanks to In Between and Fushia Deville for helping make last evening's visit by Pat Edmonson a success!