I don’t tell many people this — but during the Bush vs. Gore 2000 election I was supporting George W. Bush. As a Junior in High School, I remember conversations with my debate coach, where I would repeat the dinner conversations I had with my conservative, Republican father on why my family supported G.W.
Then college happened and as I was sitting in my Mexican- American Studies classes and becoming actively involved in Latina/o organizations, my consciousness grew and I began a process of transformation both personally and politically. I began to connect the dots between the political process and social justice and recognized the importance of building coalitions and creating inclusive spaces. Naturally, all this change and conscienza meant that by the 2004 election I was supporting John Kerry (Democrat) against George W. Bush.
In my process to change the world, I have fallen in love with the Democratic Party. My admiration and respect for the party stems from the courage of its leaders to fight for what is right and not for what is easy. To stand up in the face of injustice, and to move beyond “band-aid” solutions to solutions that make a long-term impact in society.
Spending the last week at the Democratic National Convention, I am reminded of this love. As someone who identifies with multiple marginalized communities (Latina/Chicana, LGBTQ, Young Adult, Woman) there are not many spaces that embrace ALL of me and the diversity that encompasses who I am. And even though I was far away from my border town home of El Paso, Texas, standing with delegates from all over the country, the convention arena was transformed into a space that felt like home. And even though we were all different ages, from different places with different backgrounds and different identities it felt like familia.
Beyond just being surrounded by diversity, it was empowering to hear about the different backgrounds of all the speakers at the convention. The feelings of inclusion and respect that I have felt as a member of the Democratic Party, were now realities on the stage and the speakers were more than just “token” speakers they were symbolic representations of the coalition that makes up the Democratic Party. It was inspiring to hear my role models Mayor Julian Castro and Representative Joaquin Castro, not only address issues of immigration but also talk about marriage equality and be allies to multiple communities that are not their own. On top of that, 8 percent of the delegates at the DNC were LGBTQ, the first time a major party has ever welcomed the community in such a way.
This week, I was reminded why the Democratic Party changed my life. Because in a country that is still struggling to recognize and support diversity, the Democratic Party shows how it can be done. I understand that there are still areas for growth when it comes to social justice in the party, however it gives me hope that as a community we are open to this development and always attempting to be better.
To my fellow Democratic family members, thank you for providing a space that supports and recognizes ALL of my identities and fights for justice for ALL of me and not just parts of me.
Mary Gonzalez, was elected to represent House District 75 in El Paso, Texas, where she represents an 89 percent Latino district. She is the first gay Latina to be elected to the Texas state House and is pursuing her doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin.