AWB’s Quentin Hill Reflects on the Successful Iowa Launch Party!

AWB’s Northeast Manager Quentin Hill blogs on the successful launch of A Wider Bridge Iowa, as he returned to his home state to spearhead this important endeavor.

Last Wednesday evening (November 8, 2017), various leaders in the LGBTQ, Jewish, and pro-Israel communities gathered at a local bar in the East Village of Des Moines (the unofficial gayborhood) to help launch A Wider Bridge in this great state.

Helping me plan this launch event were two great activists who taught me a great deal about being an advocate, Ryan Crane and David Adelman. I met Ryan when I was just 14-years old, at the booth for the state’s LGBTQ rights organization at Latino Heritage Festival. He inspired me to come out in my small town, and has been a positive influence in my life ever since.

I met David Adelman after returning home to Iowa from my Birthright trip and wanting to get more involved in pro-Israel advocacy. At the time, David was organizing a Shabbat dinner for people involved in the caucuses. He has been the Iowa AIPAC Chair, President of the Des Moines Jewish Federation, an active player in Democratic politics, and an inspiration of mine. To come back home to my home state and put on an event with these two amazing advocates was truly a dream come true!

David kicked off the evening sharing his experiences of engaging progressive communities in Des Moines and Washington D.C.  with Israel. After meeting A Wider Bridge’s Deputy Director, Tye Gregory, David became more inspired by our work. He spoke about why he chose to get involved with A Wider Bridge and why he felt it was so important to bring our work to the local community in Des Moines. I then spoke about the crucial work of A Wider Bridge and why it is important to bring home this work to Iowa. Afterwards, Ryan shared his experience with A Wider Bridge on our 2017 Leadership Mission to Israel. Since returning home from Israel, Ryan has been a vocal and passionate supporter of our work.

But, what made the evening even more special were the folks that attended. My family, friends from high school and college, the new rabbi a local synagogue and her wife, the openly gay Chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, and the newly elected Jewish City Council member who had won his race the night before by double digits. In the true Iowan spirit, the room was full of diversity as people from the LGBTQ, Jewish, and pro-Israel (sometimes members of multiple communities), attended to hear about our work. The event was a great success and ended with much excitement about what A Wider Bridge can bring back to Des Moines.

It was an honor and moving experience to launch this event. I am very excited about returning back to my home state to continue programming opportunities, building long lasting relationships, and engaging more Iowans with Israel in a personal and authentic way. Together, we can help build LGBTQ support for Israelis in my home state of Iowa!

Stay tuned for future updates about our work there, and thank you to all those who came out for our launch. You made my trip and evening a huge success and remembered how great our state can be when we all come together to forge a brighter future. Thank you!