As a champion for marriage equality in D.C., 42-year-old Michael Crawford engaged the city's mostly African-American population in conversations to promote same-sex marriage. Crawford and the organization he co-founded, D.C. for Marriage, worked to debunk the belief that all religious African-Americans are anti-LGBT.
Crawford took time between packing boxes for his move to New York, to look back at his time in D.C.
You helped to co-found D.C. for Marriage, one of the main organizations behind securing same-sex marriage in our nation's capital. How did your organization inspire so much support?
D.C. for Marriage did a lot of work engaging residents in face-to-face conversations about gay people and marriage. Our primary vehicle for initiating conversations was to ask people to sign a pledge supporting marriage. We talked to people in every ward of the city at public events like farmers' markets, neighborhood meetings, and community forums. We also talk to a lot of people as they were entering and leaving church
What surprised you about D.C. residents who supported marriage equality? Council Member Marion Barry stated over and over again that residents in his ward were against marriage for same-sex couples, but as we talked to folks in his ward, we found people who did support marriage or that shifted to supporting marriage after talking with us.
From your time working in DC, is there a memory of a conversation you had with someone about winning marriage equality that stands out or that you will never forget? I had a conversation with an older African-American woman on her way to church. We talked for a while about gay and lesbian families, about marriage, and why gay people want to marry. As we talked, I could see her struggle with what she was taught about marriage and her belief that all people should be treated equally. She said that she didn't want gay people to be discriminated against, but she need time to think through what she had been taught about marriage. She didn't go away from our conversation supporting marriage, but she took the literature and promised to think about the issue. That shows that the importance of having face-to-face conversations and helping people think through the issues. Do you think it is more of a challenge as an ethnic minority who happens to be gay, than it is for a Caucasian person who happens to be gay? Why? I don't know if it's more of a challenge to be gay and a person of color versus being gay and white. I think it depends more on your community you are in. Most of the members of my family are great with me being gay. My dad is not, but that has more to do with him being a right-wing evangelical Christian than with our being Black.
Would you consider yourself an emerging equal rights icon? Madonna is an icon. I'm just a guy trying to help make the world better for LGBT people.