Ashton P Woods – what about today?

A full transcript of this episode is below…

Ashton P Woods is a man with a lot going on and a lot to say. He was good enough to give me some of his time when we were at Skepticon together.

http://www.ashtonpwoodsforhouston.com

Music by Cloudkicker and Rosevere, used under Creative Commons

Transcript:

Callie: Love and hugs this week to Andrew for becoming a new Patron. Thank you friend. Love you lots.

[00:00:05] Heads up at the top here, this episode contains a mention of sexual assault. Please take care of yourself my friend. 

[00:00:11] My name is Callie Wright, and this is Queersplaining. As promised, this week I have an interview with Ashton P Woods. The good folks at Skepticon were kind enough to provide us with a room to record in, and Ashton was good enough to give me some of his time to talk about his history, his work as an activist and political candidate, and some more general philosophy of activism.

[00:00:37] Ashton: My name is Ashton P woods, and I hail from Houston by way of New Orleans, Louisiana. I am one of the founding organizers of Black Lives Matter Houston, and founding co-chair of the Black Humanist Alliance under the American Humanist Association. And more recently, I’m now the first openly atheist and first openly gay black person, male, running for Houston City Council.

[00:00:59] Callie: So you got a lot going on. So,  and, you’ve been doing activism since you were what, 14? 

[00:01:06] Ashton: Yes. It’s, this year makes 20 years. I came out in 1999 and I’ve been an activist since that day in varying different, you know, different ways. But here I am.

[00:01:16]Callie:  What is it in your background and your upbringing that made you decide like, this is what you want your life to be about?

[00:01:20]Ashton:  My lived experience.

[00:01:22] When I was a child, I just knew that certain things were not right. And I saw how people were being treated, and I didn’t think it was right. And as a child. I spent a lot of my time being silenced. I was raised by people who said to speak up when you see something wrong, no matter who it is. And then when I did that, it was “sit down and shut up and stay in a child’s place.”

[00:01:42] Well, you should have let me read those books. You shouldn’t have let me go to these classes on the weekend. You shouldn’t have let me be around people who are considered “radical” and “outliers” that are unafraid to speak their mind. And that’s where I got that from like, I, I, early on became a person who has zero fucks to give. Period.

[00:02:04]Callie:  Do you remember the first time that you ever had one of those moments where you you stood up and said like “no, this is not right.”

[00:02:10] Ashton: Yeah. It’s a really convoluted story. But it was summer before my freshman year of high school started and there was a teacher named Marco Maningini. He taught Spanish and other languages. And he was in the newspaper in 1999 with his home number blasted in the article. He put it there. And he was being interviewed because he had come out.

[00:02:31] For some reason, I felt compelled to call him and say “hey, I’m a student. I support you. What can we do?” And this was around the time also, to be clear, that Matthew Shepard had been murdered. So this was already on my radar and this was are… this, as a child had me irritated. Because I had just spent the last couple years in junior high trying to reconcile with the fact that I am a gay person, and talking to teachers and building a support system in that way.

[00:02:57] By, I guess September, October of 1999, which was into the freshman year. We started a Gay-straight Alliance which, turned out to be one of the first in the City of New Orleans called SAFE, an acronym for Student Alliance For Equality. So that’s, Matthew Shepard, him, and a host of other issues that I’d been seeing pop up really kind of like pushed me.

[00:03:18] The fearlessness came when we… Instead of doing intercom announcements, we had closed circuit TV. So we did mock journalists in the morning for announcements, and things like in homeroom. And we were recording this video, and the upperclassmen who was supposed to be talking froze, and all you could hear was “uh…u….”.

[00:03:37] “Hi, my name is Ashton P Woods, and we are the Student Alliance for Equality, but blah blah blah blah blah.” It just, it just came out. It flowed. They kept it. They played it, and it was in front of 2,500 students. And my life changed from that moment.

[00:03:50] I mean, so there are many points in history that I can point to as a 13 year old, 14 year old kid that led me down this path.

[00:04:03] Callie: How was that received in school? 

[00:04:04] Ashton: My locker got broken into, I missed a lot of classes. Um, there was a lot of ridicule, and a lot of support at the same time. Once people got used to it,

[00:04:15] I mean it is what it was. I have no ill will towards those folks who tried to harm me in that way, because a lot of those people grew up to be LGBTQ themselves.

[00:04:26] And the one thing that I hear a lot of is “had it not been for you doing that, it would not be so easy for me to do this now. It would not be so easy to state who I am, and be comfortable in who I am, and walk in who I am had and…had you not taken and become that sacrifice.”

[00:04:45] And I’m learning every day as a 34 year old to reconcile that everything that I do comes out of sacrifice of self, for the greater good of others.

[00:04:54] Callie: Yeah, I was gonna say help me, help me understand how that feels. Because I’ve had moments like that too, like, kids who were like were total dicks to me in school, bullied me like even though I like I was not obviously queer or trans, but I was a nerdy kid. I was like, I was definitely not one of the cool kids. And you know, some of those folks have friended me on Facebook later like “oh I’m so inspired by you” and I’m like “cool I’m still dealing with the trauma from you,” you know, like 

[00:05:15] Ashton: right 

[00:05:15] Callie: and but it seems like you’ve come to peace with that. 

[00:05:20] Ashton: It’s not that I’ll come to peace with it. It’s I can’t, I can’t focus on the hurt. I can only focus on the people who don’t have access like we do. That feel the same way that we do but can’t talk, are silenced, and are walking every day on eggshells because those people need us. I cannot punish them for the assholes. I can’t and I refuse to.

[00:05:42] But what I will do is address and say “listen, if we can have a meeting of the minds, and actually have a reconciliation about the things that you might have said, and that I might have said and then move on and love each other from a distance so that we can get this Justice, okay cool.”

[00:05:55] But at the same time, the focus is on people who are on the fringes. The marginalized and you know, there are the margins and then there are the fringes, right?

[00:06:06] And those are the people who are often closest to the problem, the most silent and the most silenced. So, that’s where my mind is. 

[00:06:14] Callie: And so talk to me about founding Black Lives Matter Houston. Because obviously you were involved in activism before

[00:06:20]Ashton:  yes,

[00:06:21]Callie:  but there was obviously an inflection point where you decided like “this is the thing I’m going to do” talk me through that. How did that happen? 

[00:06:26] Ashton: It’s a blur… 

[00:06:27] Callie: Okay,

[00:06:28] Ashton: …I’ll be honest with. You activism in and of itself is a blur. Things happen so fast, I can’t even believe that this month Black Lives Matter Houston turns five years old. We started out as Black Lives Matter Texas. There were people who came before me. But they saw that I was always active and I was always trying to do stuff.

[00:06:44] So they you know, because people had to go away for school… We were young. I mean at that time I was in my, you know, mid-20s. A lot of 18-something 19-somethings. Their lives were just beginning, our lives were just beginning.

[00:06:59] And I just happened to be more settled in Houston and Home in Houston. Whereas other folks had to leave, they had to move, some folks died, unfortunately. Through the process of organizing BLM Houston. We’ve morphed into a mutual Aid organization. We do political Outreach. We do we have a legislative arm. We’ve decided to insert ourselves in every facet of life in Texas and in Houston and in this country for that matter in a way that allows us to affect policy, how laws are written, and how things are regulated as opposed to just a reactionary protest.

[00:07:36] Because the one thing that I pride myself on and also my fellow co-organizers would pride themselves on is the fact that we can walk into a ball, and walk out with a bullhorn. We have no problem coming out dressed like Cinderella and taking the street, and making people uncomfortable. And then going the next day and sitting in the same room with those uncomfortable people and saying “well, what do you have for us?”

[00:07:59] It’s more than just police brutality. It’s about dismantling the systems of privilege and of white supremacy. The structures. The foundations. And if you know as an activist, I will be remiss to actually acknowledge and examine those root causes of why proof police brutality for example actually exists.

[00:08:19] So if you get to the root cause of the foundation, you take a sledgehammer to it, and you build it up from the beginning, and better, we have something that’s more equitable. People have more say and more input, and people actually get to live in peace. That’s really what the goal is: to live in peace, for black people to live in peace. Because when black people do good everybody does good.

[00:08:41] Callie: I feel like that’s something that gets lost so often is that because like, so much of the way that things are portrayed in the media. You know, what you hear on like Fox News and sometimes even like the the quote-unquote liberal news outlets is just about how angry everyone is.

[00:08:55] And like that’s true, but like, at the root of it is love for people and the want for people to be able to lead fulfilling lives.

[00:09:04]Ashton:  I will be the first one to say that I’m an angry black man. And here’s the difference between the definition of society’s angry black man and my black man that I am:

[00:09:12] We have a right to be angry about the injustices towards us.

[00:09:16] The angry black man that people speak out in the mainstream media, and everywhere else, in general, and in common colloquialism. It really is about anti Blackness. It’s saying that “yeah sure, let us oppress you! But you better not respond! You better take it! Because we are seen as less than human whether people recognize this or not.

[00:09:35] Even if it’s not consciously in your mind, that’s the underpinning behind the statement. We are less than, and so therefore, we should be able to just take everything, because we have a high pain threshold. We don’t have mental health issues, said the white man who decided to measure us for experiments to make medical history and breakthrough and advances.

[00:09:56] The thing about it is is that, I’m an angry black man because I know that I see people who look like me, not only being gunned down, but being pushed through a shitty education system, being pushed through areas of redlining, food deserts and lack of access to various different things.

[00:10:12] We’re talking about quality of life here. We’re talking about: this is life or death for us, regardless of what realm we are working in or walking through 

[00:10:22] Callie: you mentioned when you got started, there was a whole lot of very young people involved. And in the work that I have done, there is this constant tension between like the old guard and the new guard right?

[00:10:32] Like the young kids who have all of these fresh ideas and who are very, you know, far more radical, far less worried about politeness and Civility, and more worried about taking action. And then you have the Old Guard who is like, oh we have to make sure we have our permits in order. We have to make sure we shake the cops hands and thank them for protecting us at our protest and there’s 

[00:10:50] Ashton: that’s a no, 

[00:10:51] Callie: right? And I always… When I when I started getting involved that stuff I noticed that tension there. Is that something that you had to deal with?

[00:10:57] Ashton: That’s something that I had to deal with post 2016, when the newly awakened activists decided to blossom up because of the orange orangutan in the Oval Office. Not because of the Trumps in their backyard. Not because of all the shit that we’ve been saying. But because they didn’t get the president they wanted.

[00:11:15] I have resentment about that. But I respect the fact that those people have stepped up and I actually doing the damn thing. And it took a while for us to get those folks trained in. 

[00:11:24] Hey white ally, don’t go shake the hands of the cops. That’s triggering as fuck, okay?

[00:11:31] And the thing about it is is this. You came in a day late, and a dollar short. Don’t tell me how to organize about what I’ve been doing. Don’t tell me I need a permit, when I know the law. Cause see, biggest issue that I’ve had in a disconnect, because I was that radical kid and I still am. I’m just a little bit more calm. The difference is that I don’t need you to tell me how to do what I’ve already known how to do.

[00:11:54] I don’t need you to tell me how to broadcast or, or transmit my oppressions. I don’t need you to tell me to do it in a way that Academia has taught you to do it. I need you to hear this raw and unfiltered.  

[00:12:08] Things have improved. Yes, but yet, you know, I find that, I do see there are things that can be quite distasteful from not just the Old Guard but the new guard as well, because there are some folks they’ll lean in, or lean towards respectability politics.

[00:12:24] “Say it like this.” “Dress like that.” “Smile like this.” No.  You take your Jack and Jill and your Pomp and Circumstance and you go shove it.

[00:12:38] Callie: So you’re running for City Council…

[00:12:39] Ashton: mmhmm

[00:12:39]Callie:  …In Houston and another, another tension that often exists in activist spaces, especially ones that tend toward being more radical, is the idea that like, you know, when you do something like that you’re buying into the system, right? Instead of trying to dismantle it. Talk me through how you made that decision.

[00:12:58] Ashton: It wasn’t overnight, and I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Here’s the thing. People learned a hard lesson after the 2016 election. It is that your vote actually does matter. 

[00:13:13] I’m a person living with HIV. If you erasing my blackness right now, we just whittled it down to HIV. I made a very long form post like a week before the election.

[00:13:21] I said listen these people in this particular group are going to be hurt by this administration. And lo and behold people like me who rely on funds like Ryan White for my Healthcare.  To see in an infectious disease doctor to make sure that my viral load is at a manageable undetectable rate. And that my CD4 count is up, and to get medicine on a program called ADAP, which covers a hundred percent of my medication because I can’t afford to pay $3,000 a month for Genvoya.

[00:13:53] There are friends of mine who were on that commission that Barack Obama put together that resigned during the Trump Administration in the last year or so. And I think about not just the HIV aspect, but all the other aspects of access to healthy food, safe food clean, water, access to Healthcare in general.

[00:14:15] These are things that we are losing because the Trumps in our backyard who are enabling the trump in the white house, right? And I’m running because I know for a fact that no, I’m not part of the system. No, I’m not running to destroy the system from within or be part of it. What I’m doing is simple. 

[00:14:31] We are in a place where people keep talking about Revolution. But no one is coming up with the plan about what happens after we overthrow white supremacy, and how we can move forward as a society that is based in equity and not in white supremacy. And if we don’t have a plan for that, we’re still living in a system that is structurally over 200 years old and that can be changed.

[00:14:57] The history of Houston, Harris county is this: we’ve been able to get people in who have stop Prosecuting Petty crimes. We’ve abolished Bail Bonds. We have the Sandra Bland Act and other social justice bills that have come out. Cannabis is not necessarily legal but it ain’t criminalized. My goal is to decriminalize right now, until we can get to a place where we can overthrow white supremacy completely.

[00:15:22] Put your money where your mouth is and do what you can to help people where they are. Because if we keep talking about “well I’m not doing this” and “I don’t believe in that.” What about the people on the peripheral who are languishing and dying because we, who have the power as activists, are dragging our feet to create the change instead of just fucking doing it.

[00:15:44] Callie: Yeah, the way that I always try to paint it when I’m talking with folks in my local community, like around trans advocacy, for example. Like people keep talking about like this Utopia where like we overthrow the system and whereas like, I’m more worried about like, this trans kid’s not going to have a place to sleep tonight, and doesn’t know where they’re getting dinner from and like 

[00:16:01] Ashton: what about today?

[00:16:01] Callie: That’s the problem I’m trying to solve, right?

[00:16:03]Ashton:  What about today? What about today? Because somebody is hungry right now. There’s someone homeless right now, there’s someone being raped right now, there’s someone being abused right now. And they cannot wait until we overthrow a system to get their fuckin justice. We need justice right now.

[00:16:21] The demand is “no justice, no peace,” right? And “when do we want it? We want it now.” Now means that we have to handle it as we sit where we are. And if we don’t do that we are full of shit and we are not true to ourselves. And until we come to the reconciliation or recognition of that fact, we are going to be spinning our Wheels.

[00:16:39] But in the meantime, you can watch Ashton P Woods walk into the sunset. Because I came to get Justice. For people who look like me and for those who are marginalized like me. That’s my  only goal.

[00:16:51] I ain’t come to shake hands, I didn’t come to be anybody’s friend. I damn sure didn’t come to be liked.

[00:16:57]Callie:  I feel like a lot of it has to do with the fact that people get very invested in the sexiness of activism, you know, like, “oh, like I’m the cool one at the protest and like I threw a brick and all of that” and like, okay cool like if it’s strategic and you’re doing it right cool.

[00:17:11] But, what are you doing about folks who are incarcerated unjustly? It’s a lot less sexy to have that conversation. But you’re also gonna help a lot more people and do a lot more practical good if you’re trying to address that.

[00:17:22]Ashton:  Right!  First of all, there are people who are incarcerated in the state of Louisiana where I originate from who have never had a hearing, a preliminary hearing, who’ve just been sitting in jail.

[00:17:35] That’s unconstitutional. 

[00:17:37] There’s a lot of things and remedies that we have, that white folk, or folks in the power Dynamic have been able to use to their benefit. Jeffrey Epstein comes to mind. 

[00:17:47] When we talk about white collar crime versus how someone could be prosecuted to the fullest extent for stealing a Snickers bar because they were hungry, versus someone who has sex trafficked and and made young women into, young *children*, young *girls* into indentured servants.

[00:18:07] You have to have me completely screwed up in the mind to think that we can’t get to a place where we actually criminalize the people who deserve to be criminalized. But the people who have been criminalized don’t deserve it. 

[00:18:20] Nonviolent crimes? The end of 2016, 98 percent of the traffic stops for broken taillights were black people in Harris County in Houston. That is something that needs to change. 

[00:18:35] And then you think about the black or brown Community where the myth is the brow… In the brown community that the percentage of folks in the Latinx community in the AAPI community are arrested least, but in actuality, if you look like for example in Harris County a lot of Latinx folks are actually labeled as white. It skews the numbers. 

[00:18:56] They know what they’re doing with these data points, right? And my bigger point is that we are the ones who should be in control of that data and actually making sure that the right information is out and translated the right way. I mean, we need to really completely look at things holistically, and look at how they really work and how they are actually harmful and how they actually benefit.

[00:19:19] Callie: So talk to me about some of the things that you’ve been doing in Houston. Because I mean, you know, we took an Uber ride back to the hotel and you were talking. I mean, I think I counted like six or seven different like like really legitimately like big deal things that you have done especially around like abolishing bail.

[00:19:36] Ashton: Mmm. 

[00:19:36] Callie: Tell me that story. 

[00:19:37] Ashton: Well, that was actually a federal lawsuit. Um and my action comes in by making sure that we got people out to vote to get people on the Commissioner’s Court. Because For the First Time in years, we have a millennial someone under the age of 30 who was the County judge for 6 million people.

[00:19:58] Her name is Lina Hidalgo. We have Rodney Ellis and a couple other people. We flipped the Commissioner’s Court. That’s one of the, you know, knowing how things work, and who to be mad at has always been a thing for me. 

[00:20:10] Meaning the Commissioner’s Court decides on how much of a budget that the district attorney gets, what they get it for. They decide on how prisons are funded. They actually also control the Harris County Hospital District, which is the Texas Medical Center for a lot of us.

[00:20:27] That body is not beholden to the state legislature.  And then you have your council, your city council, right? And then you have your Texas legislature. So a federal lawsuit was filed, the Commissioner’s Court and the judges that came in at the end of 2018 into 20… That got sworn in in 2019 along with the judges we got in in 2016 decided to comply with that ruling, which was historic. 

[00:20:54] And the Commissioner’s Court followed through with it. 

[00:20:57] Callie: And so your piece of it was the organizing around the voting to flip the…

[00:21:00] Ashton: correct

[00:21:01] Callie: okay. 

[00:21:01] Ashton: Yeah, it wasn’t just me. It was all of us. We got together, even people who, we didn’t like each other. We were like “no, we need to do this now.”

[00:21:09] They always say anything that Texas does the nation follows. Well Houston is a beacon of light from a big red State, or so we thought…

[00:21:17] Callie: Can be? Sometimes is?

[00:21:18]Ashton:  No. No, I mean, I think that, in my experience of living in Texas, there are more liberal than there are conservatives.

[00:21:26] They are there. I’m not saying that. But what I’m saying is: when I was when I started getting those emails to my BLM account from people who voted for Trump but voted for the district attorney that we recommend it. “I voted for them because we believe in this criminal justice thing.” The Republicans want to decriminalize marijuana and legalize it. The Democrats do too.

[00:21:46] We are in a perfect position, even with people we don’t see eye-to-eye with to get what we want. And either we’re going to sit at the table and get what we need for folks who don’t have the access to do it themselves, or we are going to languish. 

[00:22:01] The other thing is has been about electoral influence.

[00:22:04] One of the bigger things that I’ve seen is making sure that the right candidates get into the right position. There’s a congresswoman by the  name of Liz… Lizzie Fletcher. She ran for John Culberson’s seat, and John  Culberson was a  very conservative Republican that lost in 2018. 

[00:22:19] But during the primary season, there was a Young woman, not a young woman, but lady named Laura Moser. Well, Laura Moser moved from DC to come to Houston to run. And I wrote a piece. I have a Blog, I have a mouthpiece. The Electoral influence also comes from educating people right? And in this blog post, I wrote “somebody please grab Laura Moser’s Silver Spoon.” In which I cited articles where she literally wrote that she had gone to a church and that she wants to call an ambulance because this black woman had gone into what she said catching the Holy Spirit.

[00:23:00] Now, even though I’m not a Believer if that’s who they are. And that’s what they do, who are you disrespect  that? Who are you to make fun of that? Who are you to satirize that?  

[00:23:11] So as far as the Electoral influence, which has been the focus… But also about educating people about who to be mad at. That’s been my biggest thing. 

[00:23:20] And we’ve seen since 2016 actually since 2015 people going to City Council meetings. The Commissioner’s Court hearings are packed, standing-room-only now. You know the Texas legislature had, which means every other year for five months… Buses and buses of people.

[00:23:38] We’ve moved beyond the “call your senators and email your Senators” bullshit. No, we’re coming to your office. We’re showing up at your door. You are going to fix this. And that’s really what it’s been.

[00:23:50] Callie: I’m interested in something you talked about earlier about partnering with people who are not necessarily lined up with you ideologically. Because there’s a stereotype that people refuse to do that, right? And I think anyone who understands the Practical needs of like “we have to get this policy passed” like that’s a thing that you have like you can’t avoid doing that right, but I think the perception is that you have to be that like perfectly respectable and civil person to do that.

[00:24:18] And I think riding those two lines is something that you do very well because you are, you don’t play respectability politics, but you also get stuff done. So talk to me about like how you approach situations like that.

[00:24:30]Ashton:  Oh that’s simple and easy. If you don’t give me what I want, I get to blast it to everybody and I let them come after you.

[00:24:37] Activism is not something that’s, that one person can stand alone and do. This takes an entire Community, right? And I’m just one person and there are other people just like me in Houston who do the same exact thing. Except we all get together and sit in a room with the cell phones in a basket three rooms down and the Wi-Fi turned off and we make our plans.

[00:24:56] I don’t care if we don’t like each other. We know that there’s a common goal. And that there’s a larger enemy that both of us must face. That all of us must face. And I think that’s what drives us into doing the things that we do. Because I notice like I have following from people in different states, and they’ll come and comment on some of my Facebook post.

[00:25:15] “Well,  this that’s that dah dah dah.” I’m like “listen that’s your local shit. My local shit does not look like that.  Because at the end of the day, we’ve all come to the conclusion that if we don’t address the issue, that we can be infighting, and that people will still die. Not because of natural causes but because of our inaction and our inability to actually put our own personal shit to the side and do what needs to be done.

[00:25:42] I’m not telling people to silence themselves. I’m not telling people to go into situations where they’re triggered, because I guarantee you and for sure, I never go into spaces and places with people who I know trigger me, or people I know who are abusive. But I will get with people who have the similar power to do what needs to be done.

[00:26:00] You don’t have to go and sit down with some conservative Republicans and do these things. But also recognize that if you can go, especially if you’re white, if you can go to Christmas and Thanksgiving and all these other people, and your Trump votin Uncle talk shit while y’all eating turkey, you are fuckin complicit. And if you can do that, you can walk up to these other spaces. And I’m not saying that for people who are dealing with mental health who are so triggered that they they can’t do these things, because that is real, right? 

[00:26:31] I’m saying for those of us who have the ability to do it, who can do it. We should be on the front lines doing it. But for people like me who have had to walk through fire, who have been homeless, who’ve been raped. I got right that 16 because I was homeless and I needed somewhere to live. I needed to eat. I just, I was a hungry kid.

[00:26:50] I think about those people when I walk into those spaces. Because I know that they might not be strong enough to speak up. And I’ll be that voice. And I’ll take that bullet.

[00:27:02] Be the person who is willing to take the bullet. And if you’re not that person, find somebody else who will, and provide them support if you can.

[00:27:12] With this run for city council, I’m going to need all the support that I can get. I’m running against someone, as a front runner who has raised between two and three hundred thousand dollars to my 12 to 15 K. The difference between me and them, is that I have over 300 unique donors from people on the ground who I just named.

[00:27:37] And I need people to come to Houston and block walk for me, phone bank, text, educate folks, help with platform. I need people to understand that this is not me just running for some Glory. This is me running for us. Because at the end of the day to walk into those shoes that is mentally distressful that is not healthy at all, but I’m willing to do it.

[00:28:02] And I just need everybody to have my back just like I’ve had their’s in that sense, so that I can get some justice for us, at least in Houston. And maybe translate somewhere else.  Because if I can do what I’ve done as an activist, and a Council chair, where I can actually affect change and actually have control over some change and not just that.

[00:28:23] The biggest motive behind me running is to be able to have the door open for activists and Community leaders to come in and help me with bottom-up governance. Meaning people keep asking “Ashton you’re an activist. How are you going to separate?” I don’t. I’ve never had to. This is who I am innately, right? 

[00:28:43] You go to work,and you quit your job because you save money to run for office, or you continue to go to work. Well, this has always been my job. So why would you expect me to stop? The only difference is is when I win this Council seat, it would be my activist friends and other people who are out in the community sitting at the table saying “listen, this is a particular issue that y’all can come and chime in on” and when we come together as a group in a decision-making process. Whatever the outcome is. That’s what I’m going to do. 

[00:29:11] We can no longer have people being elected on what they think you need. On what they think you want. No. It’s about what you want. It’s about how you want it. It is no longer about me. That’s why I’m running.

[00:29:28] If you want 

[00:29:28] Callie: to help Ashton’s campaign head to ashtonpwoodsforhouston.com. And that’s F-O-R, for. You don’t have to live in Houston to help.

[00:29:39] Also a bit of news on a personal front. Partially because of this interview, I have decided to get more involved in a direct way in my local politics. I did my first shift canvassing a few days ago.

[00:29:52] Kentucky’s Governor is a wannabe Trump. And he’s done massive massive damage to the state. So I joined the local Democratic party as a volunteer in their campaign to give him the boot. I have mixed feelings, being a person who wants broad systemic change, but like Ashton said I’m thinking “what about today? What about tomorrow?” We got to make shit better today, too. 

[00:30:15] I used to have a fair amount of money and very little time. So I gave money where I could. Never really had much time over the past few years to do much volunteer work. But now it’s reversed. I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have some time.

[00:30:28] So I’m going to give it where I can. I’d encourage you to do the same wherever and however you’re able. Canvassing, phone banking, stuffing envelopes, whatever you can do. The research shows this stuff does make a difference. I’d encourage you to jump in and go for it. 

[00:30:42] And of course, I couldn’t continue doing this show without the wonderful folks who give on Patreon. If you think these stories are important and you’re able, please consider heading to patreon.com/queersplaining, and making a pledge. Even one dollar per episode helps. Everything helps, thank you friends.

[00:30:59] Before I go, I want you to know that if you’re lost, you’re hurting, you’re scared, If you feel like no one cares and no one understands – you need to know there’s a community out here that loves you, cares for you, knows that you’re capable of amazing things, and that you are worthy of love.

[00:31:14] If you’re struggling, please don’t be afraid to reach out. Until next time friend. My name is Callie Wright and this is Queersplaining.