Staff Spotlight: Cameron Tolle on the Power of Running Digital Campaigns for LGBTQ EqualityBy Shane Stahl • February 27, 2018 • 8:18 am
The latest in our Staff Spotlight series features our Vice President of State Digital Campaigns, Cameron Tolle. In his role, Cameron Tolle leads digital programming and strategy for FFAA’s state campaigns. from Alaska all the way to Massachusetts. Cameron utilizes clear, consistent messaging, along with the digital theory of change in order to effectively reach audiences far and wide. Read on to learn more about this great member of the team:
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Cameron Tolle, and I’m the Vice President of State Digital Campaigns for FFAA, where I lead our state-based digital campaigns across the country. I’ve worked at FFAA since we launched nearly 3 years ago and before that, I worked at Freedom to Marry – the campaign that won marriage nationwide – for six years. There are few things I love more than working with our local partners to build in the in-state capacity and power we need to achieve huge wins. On the personal front, I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and now live in Brooklyn with my husband Alfie and our cat Nina. After 7+ years in NYC though, I’m still a Midwesterner at heart.
How did you get involved in the movement for LGBTQ non-discrimination?
I’ve always been drawn to LGBTQ advocacy work. In college in at Xavier University in Cincinnati, I was active in our campus LGBTQ organization and quickly branched out to organize in the broader Cincinnati community and statewide. Then in 2009, I skipped school for many weeks to work on the marriage campaign in Maine – where we suffered a really devastating loss. After that experience – and seeing firsthand the pain so many people felt that night after voters in their state rejected their dignity at the ballot – I was determined to keep the fight going. The next year, I joined the Freedom to Marry team right after college and I’ve been proudly working in this movement ever since.
Is there a particular moment you’ve experienced in your work that sticks with you? Why?
SO many. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to watch as the first same-sex couples married in a state where we just won the freedom to marry – or see the joy in young transgender people as they celebrate the passage of inclusive non-discrimination protections in their city or state. Each time, these victories are a reminder that our work is about so much more than changing one given policy – it’s about changing a culture and sending a signal to LGBTQ people that we are all welcomed, valued members of our communities.
What would you say to people who take action for LGBTQ equality? What simple steps can they take?
We all have people in our circles who – even if we know them to be fair-minded and good-hearted – may not understand what it means to be transgender or that in most states, there are no explicit protections from discrimination for LGBTQ people. So that gives each of us such an important opportunity to have important conversations within our own networks about the importance of non-discrimination protections and the real, lived experiences of LGBTQ people. We could run a million TV ads across the country to help grow public support – but ultimately, there’s nothing more impactful than a real, face-to-face conversation.
Why does non-discrimination matter to you?
Non-discrimination protections change the law – and that’s crucial. They give LGBTQ people the security to know that when we go to work, rent an apartment or participate in public life – we can’t be discriminated against because of who we are. But perhaps most importantly, non-discrimination laws reflect the values of our society. They send a signal about who we are and what we believe – and the afford a much-needed dignity to communities that have been marginalized and faced discrimination.
Self-care is important in these times when so many unpleasant things are said and done regarding LGBTQ rights — what kind of self care do you practice?
I love my family – and if I’m not working, I’m hanging out with my husband at home or around Brooklyn. I constantly obsess about my next meal and love trying out new vegetarian/vegan restaurants and have recently gotten into cooking at home! Yoga has also become a big, regular part of my life daily. Beyond that, I always appreciate having a trip/vacation to look forward to and truly appreciate being able to see so many good concerts and many of my favorite bands in NYC.