Staff Spotlight: Michel DuBois, Operations Manager

Freedom to Marry has a dedicated and diverse staff working each day to secure the freedom to marry nationwide, and we want to help you get to know each of us a little bit better. This week, we hear from Michel DuBois, Freedom to Marry's new Operations Manager. Michel works in our New York office, where he deals with the financial end of the organization's operations. Previously, Michel worked as operations manager for Mountain Pride Media's Out in the Mountains, a statewide newspaper directed at the LGBTQ community. He's also worked with Outright Vermont, a queer youth advocacy group. Originally from Vermont, Michel now lives in New York City with his partner. 

1) Where are you from, and what brought you to New York?

I was born and raised in Vermont and was lucky enough - despite my working-class origins - to attend college in Europe, where I spent five years studying languages (Italian and French) and getting my oh-so-helpful degree in Philosophy. For the last nine years I've worked in the LGBT and Queer non-profit sector, most recently at Outright Vermont, and finally I decided to seek new opportunities in New York. I've been here two years already and am absolutely loving it.

2) Tell us about your work with Outright Vermont - why is it important to you, and what did you learn from your time there?

Outright Vermont is a queer youth Center and Advocacy group. Despite my good luck to move to Europe when I was 18, it was traumatic to grow up in a small, insular working-class town, to say the least about the topic. But Vermont's reputation for being concerned with all her citizens' rights and welfare is historic and it felt both important and right for me to support the youth, staff and mission of Outright, which has been "making it better since 1989." I've come to believe that no matter how far we travel down the road to equal treatment for every person, there will always be more work ahead to dissolve the illusions of separation. We are one human family. Period.

3) What do you like to do in your free time?

Over the past several years I have become a serious Vipassana Meditator. I took my first 10-day silent retreat in 2009 and have continued through five such retreats since then. Here in New York, I am involved with the founding and early organizing of a local meditation hall for those of that tradition in which I practice, and I try maintain a two hour daily meditation practice. But since my joining Freedom to Marry, the two hour daily commute introduces quite a challenge, leaving little time for much more than sleep. Beyond that, I travel frequently to Vermont for visits with my family and friends, vacation in far-off lands and enjoy acting like a tourist in the City.

4) What has been your favorite "freedom to marry" moment - a time in the movement that has particularly resonated with you?

I have to say the night that the Democratic Party adopted the Freedom to Marry as a plank in their platform. I was working on paying some bills while overhearing the stream live on Michael's computer from the convention as he was tweeting and Facebooking - if that's a word - live during the event. I marveled that the seemingly mundane task of bill-paying was actually part of a massive national movement that history will judge as the correct course. It was great to be witnessing history from so close.

5) Why does the freedom to marry matter to you?

From a macro perspective I feel humbly that all oppression - while bad for the oppressed - is worse for the oppressors. So often those who oppress do so out of ignorance of the true nature of their actions or in-actions. To my mind the road to greater equality can be expressed as the road to greater compassion, to greater concern for our fellow human beings, for more than just our kin. I want to live in a world, where growth along this path is seen as a self-evident good regardless of the particular story-line of the day. In the specific case of the freedom to marry, I have very real legal concerns in my personal life that would be solved by federally respected marriage. And from the social perspective, what can I say? I would love nothing more than for all my American sisters and brothers to acknowledge that my Love is real, my Love is valid, my Love is Love.