Travis, a Minnesotan-in-training, is a graduate student at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD. He’s finishing his Master of Business Administration and is a new intern for Minnesotans United for All Families.
Lavender Magazine: You’ve lived in South Dakota your entire life, in fact you still live there, what are your ties to Minnesota? What motivated you to get involved to defeat this amendment?
Travis: Growing up in a small town, I was never exposed to the GLBT community. I knew I was “different” in high school but it wasn’t until college that I was actually exposed to other gay people. Frankly, I had no idea what to think and instead of embracing being gay, I tried to be straight and joined a fraternity.
If I have to admit that I was completely wrong for once in my life that was it. I came out to my fraternity brothers three months into pledging and, to my surprise, everyone was supportive. I had more than 60 men from South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska who all grew up in small towns telling me that there is nothing wrong with being gay and that they had my back if I ever needed them.
None of that had gotten me thinking about gay marriage or GLBT rights until one of my fraternity brothers introduced me to Brian. Now my boyfriend of a year and a half, Brian changed the way I looked at marriage and GLBT rights because I fell head-over-heels in love with him and realized that no matter how much I loved him, we couldn’t get married in South Dakota or Minnesota. So, I knew I wanted to get involved in supporting marriage for same-sex couples.
LM: So, your current relationship motivated you to become involved in the campaign, but how did you come to Minnesotans United for All Families?
T: Last summer, Brian was promoted to a position that required him to work from Minneapolis instead of Sioux Falls. We had both discussed the fact that we really enjoyed the Twin Cities and he moved to Minneapolis in June.
I got a call from Brian one night and he told me about the legislation that would ban marriage for us and many others. He said that MN United was asking for volunteers and that he was going to help out. Since I am still living in Sioux Falls while I finish my MBA I really wanted to get involved but wasn’t sure how. Then I saw that they were looking for interns and I thought, “Bingo, that’s my chance.”
LM: Now you’re an intern, but you still live in South Dakota?
T: Yes! I call myself a Minnesotan-in-training because I spend every other weekend in Minneapolis. I am lucky enough to have a lot of office time and when I’m not in the office, I work from Sioux Falls.
LM: What do you enjoy the most about being an intern?
T: As an MBA student, my time is limited, but I love the opportunity to be able to utilize the skills that I have learned to help make the world a better place this first month as an intern. I know so many people who will be affected by this legislation and I’m happy to do my part to spread the message to vote no on the proposed amendment.
Not to mention, everyone at MN United is great. You meet moms, grandmothers, dads, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, friends, and people just really excited about defeating this amendment. To me, that is the best part. Every time I go to the office I am reminded that there are so many people supporting me and fighting for the cause. It makes me excited and proud to one day be a Minnesotan myself.
LM: Do you have any advice that you would give people about getting involved?
T: We need all the help we can get to increase awareness, promote marriage equality, and encourage people to vote no on the amendment, and if you are good at something or passionate about something, there is a place for you. I know I was a little concerned my first time volunteering to make phone calls, but it turned out to be so rewarding. No matter how much time you have to volunteer, we are happy to have you. This is your chance to help make Minnesota a better place and leave your mark on history.