(L) Tyler Folke (R) Adam Hoover
Don't know the name? Remember it. This 17-year-old from Ohio wants to change the world. Someday he might even land in the Oval Office. For now, he’ll take Facebook.
Harrison, Ohio. 7:30am. Adam Hoover starts his day. First it's on to William Henry Harrison High School where he'll hang with friends, learn political science and daydream about taking down social injustice. Then it's onto one of a number of other activities, which these days include spending time with family, running a charity for the less fortunate and, his latest project, building a local movement from scratch. "I went to the gay pride parade in Cincinnati. I finally figured out it's okay to be gay. It made me want to do something."
Coming out brought this 17-year-old the support of friends, family and his (mostly Republican!) community. So he decided to campaign for marriage equality in Ohio. Over the course of two weeks, 15,000 supporters flooded several congressional offices, including John Boehner's, with phone calls in support of a marriage equality bill. Success in Ohio would add Hoover's home state to a growing number that now recognize marriage for same-sex couples. Hoover says social media took an important role in making his campaign dream become real. "Facebook is the easiest way to connect people," he says. "We have about 275,000 supporters across our pages." The Facebook page, Support Gay Marriage in Ohio, has alone attracted nearly 200,000 "likes" and the protest, held in Cincinnati's Fountain Square on November 5, hasd hundreds of attendees and gained media attention from local TV and radio stations.
So what made this teen ditch underage parties and World of Warcraft for activism? It's easy; Hoover says everyone should be free. That, and he wants to be able to marry his boyfriend, Tyler. His mom is supportive and his friends think it's amazing how much he's able to do. He thinks the world is too judgmental but says it's finally starting to turn around with respect to gay rights. He also realizes how his cybermovement needs to happen offline, too. "Ohio marriage equality, that's the goal.
It won’t happen without media attention. If we can get people to talk about it, we will bring around change. If the adults won't give it to us we will have to get it ourselves." Having the legal right to love who you want seems as good a reason as any to start a local revolution. And these young Ohioans have joined a grassroots movement that's spread like wildfire across the globe. Clearly, people just want to be people.
Once Hoover moves on from homeroom and dodging study hall paperclips, he hopes to attend college in Miami where he can learn more about the dos and don'ts of politics. Until then he's got Ohio marriage equality to attend to. With his family, and a few housand of his closest friends. "I want to be like Martin Luther King, Jr.," he says. "I know it sounds stupid because he fought for Black rights, but he stands for everything I stand for. Gay people should be equal and free, and protected the same as anyone else." Adam, that’s probably the most hopeful thing we’ve heard in a while.
For more information and to support Adam Hoover’s campaign, visit the Facebook page at: facebook/MarriageEqualityOhio
As featured in Connextions Magazine, Issue 5. Written by C.Antonio, Connextions Magazine Contributing Writer.
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