Kristie Helms, alumna of Murray State originally from Benton, Ky., is currently attending the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
She said she became a delegate after volunteering for several campaigns in Boston, Mass., where she resides now.
“I started becoming really involved in Boston politics in 2004 when the DNC was in Boston,” she said. “I interviewed to be a “Beantown Buddy”. We were volunteers assigned to different state delegations to help answer any questions they might have, be tour guides and generally help them love Boston as much as we do. Because I’m from Kentucky originally and because I’m really good at translating “northern” into “southern”, I asked to be assigned to that delegation — and I seriously had the time of my life.”
She said after the first DNC, she went to a Democratic Party caucus to elect others to the Massachusetts State Convention. She ended up being elected herself. She began attending regular meetings in her community and eventually she learned her city.
Over the course of several months she campaigned for a position as a delegate and eventually she won.
“That’s all it is,” she said. “It’s caring, it’s showing up and it’s trying to make the world as good as you know it should be.”
Helms said she was at the convention representing Massachusetts, and feels she is also representing the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer/Questioning community.
“I live in a state where my civil rights are protected – I can marry my partner legally and I can’t get fired for being gay, like you can be in most states,” she said. “I am an equal member of my community and I think everyone in every state should have those same rights.”
Recently, Helms took part in the first LGBT alumni reception for Murray State in Nashville, Tenn.
“It meant so much to me to further acceptance and full inclusion for LGBT students and alumni at Murray State, that I flew from Boston to Nashville just for the event,” she said. “It was wonderful to see the support from the administration, but we still have a long way to go.”
She said the convention, to her, represented a chance to work on making real changes.
Helms said the Democratic National Convention is where Democrats from around the country come together to voice our support for President Obama and nominate him for a second term as President.
“It was a special honor for me last night to be part of the vote to approve the Democratic Party’s platform — which includes a plank calling for marriage equality for same-sex marriages,” Helms said.
She said she was also excited to hear speakers such as Lilly Ledbetter, who fought for womens’ right to equal pay, Governor Deval Patrick from Massachusetts and First Lady Michelle Obama. She said she was especially excited about hearing from Vice President Joe Biden and the President himself.
“I’m also honored that the Kentucky and Massachusetts delegations are sitting next to one another in the convention hall,” Helms said. “It’s like both of my home states are together.”
She said this is the opportunity she has waited for her entire life.
Said Helms: “I would encourage everyone to get involved in the community, in any way that you can. I know that the media is telling us that there is a lot dividing Republicans and Democrats these days, but I know that we’re all trying to find the best ways to make this country a little bit better. The only way you can do that is by getting involved.”
Story by Chris Wilcox, News Editor.