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The young and the

The young and the


Young queers are sacrificing sleep and testing their endurance in an attempt to change the political landscape.

As the midterm election looms, GenQ recognizes the young gays and lesbians working their butts off behind the political scenes. They're interns knocking on doors, political staffers paying their dues, and recent grads carving a place for themselves in the Beltway and beyond. These young politicos are operating in a world that, for the moment, means catching sleep when you can, and living on Doritos and espresso when you can't.

Jake Kaskey

Age: 24

Hometown: Olmsted Falls, Ohio; now resides in Chicago

School(s): American University, graduated 2004

Areas of study: political science and American's "CLEG" interdisciplinary program (communications, legal institutions, economics, and government)

"Large-scale protests and marches don't have the power they had in the past," says Democratic organizer Jake Kaskey, "and my generation is working to discover and utilize innovative and creative ways to organize differently." After working in 2004 for Dick Gephardt in the Iowa caucus, Kaskey has been living out of his minivan, organizing voters in swing states across the Midwest. The life isn't glamorous, but it is Kaskey's passion, and unfortunately, "California isn't a swing state," he jokes.

Kaskey tells stories of how the mixing of Democrats at a volunteer night at a Machinists Hall in Iowa became known as "Queer Eye for the Union Guy." However, Kaskey feels it all boils down to one mutual point of respect: "If they'll vote for [potential U.S. speaker of the house Nancy] Pelosi, they're good!"

Having worked on over a dozen campaigns, Kaskey doesn't see the future of LGBT equality as a single movement "solely seeking rights for gay and lesbian Americans" but rather as a wave of people "fighting for the inherent rights and respect for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation," he says.

Kaskey plans to return to grad school to pursue a career as a professor of political science. When asked when he'll give up life on the road, Kaskey exclaims, "Years ago!"

Jamison "Jamie" Citron

Age: 23

Hometown: Highland Park, Ill.; now resides in St. Joseph, Minn.

School(s): Hampshire College, graduated 2005

Areas of Study: cultural studies, queer theory, dance

When Jamie Citron was 16 he was berated for his expressing "ignorant and childish views" when he took on the mayor of his suburban Chicago town for trying to cull the local deer population. He lost that battle but has continued to fight for his convictions. Now, seven years later, he has been selected as one of 23 youths from across the nation to participate in the Human Rights Campaign's "Youth College" program for campaign trainees.

Prior to the HRC, Citron revitalized the "Young Professionals" program of the Chicago-area Jewish PAC Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC), and the program eventually soon was replicated nationally. While working as interim communications director for JACPAC, Citron also served on the board of directors for Stonewall Democrats Illinois, where he focused his efforts on youth outreach and worked on several local campaigns, workers unions activism, and HIV/AIDS awareness initiatives. Citron refuses to be a token and doesn't subscribe to the 'I am just like you, except...' model, he says. "My sexuality has reminded me that it is important to be an advocate for all peoples who are oppressed and underrepresented."

Citron now is working on Patty Wetterling's congressional campaign in Minnesota. "Having the opportunity to fight my hardest for a woman who I know will represent every one of her constituents--and their right to be themselves freely and without hindrance--is the greatest honor I have as yet received," Citron tells GenQ during a break of yet another 80-plus-hour week on the campaign trail. (The Advocate)

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