APPENDIX VII: TIPS RE ORGANIZING FOR NATIONAL LGBT HISTORY MONTH

[modified from email from GLSTN, the Gay Lesbian Straight Teachers Network and a main moving force behind the organizing for NATIONAL LGBT HISTORY MONTH.

Some Tips on Getting Your Local Officials to Issue a Proclamation

Proclamations from elected officials generate a great deal of enthusiasm and help individuals feel accepted and validated for their work. They also give officials a way to reward constituents at no financial cost, which they love.

Obtaining such proclamations can be surprisingly easy, and their symbolic value in legitimizing local work is almost immeasurable. To pursue this possibility, we suggest the following steps:

  1. Have a specific occasion to recognize. A specific event, e.g. National Lesbian Gay Bisexual History Month-- provides a "tie-in" for such a proclamation and gives the elected official a chance to gain visibility -- his/her real agenda in issuing the proclamation.
  2. Find a contact. Jane or Joe Constituent are unlikely to get an official's attention by themselves: get someone who knows the official to pitch the idea. Possible contacts include: a staff person with responsibility for lgbt community relations or AIDS issues; campaign volunteers or contributors; and personal friends of the official. Have this person present your case.
  3. Present a clear rationale for the proclamation. This should include: a cover letter explaining the occasion and why you want the proclamation; a sample text (saves the time to think it up on their own); and supporting materials such as similar proclamations issued on NLGBHM's behalf, information on the specific event, and general information on your group. Officials want to know that they are not alone in taking this step, that people will appreciate it, and that the organization being honored will not embarrass them. Reassure them on all counts. 4. Recognize the proclamation publicly. There are a variety of ways to do this, including: inviting the official or a representative to address a gathering such as a conference, and to formally present the proclamation to the group; organizing an event wherein organizational representatives formally accept the proclamation from the official; and sending copies of the proclamation as part of a press release on the event. Officials like to be thanked. In front of others. Do it.
  4. Keep up your contacts. Put whomever helped you get that proclamation on your mailing list and update them regularly on your work. Save the proclamation and use it to convince them on future occasions to do it again.
Proclamations are cheap, painless, and easy, but can have enormous value in affirming your work and cause. For little work, you can help your group achieve greater visibility, credibility (particularly with potential donors and foundations), and a sense of worth. Just do it! Return to the Handbook Table of Contents

Last updated 10/4/95 by Jean Richter, richter@eecs.Berkeley.EDU