by Hale Thompson, Guest Blogger for the Network for LGBT Health Equity at Netroots Nation 2011

Blogging for the Network at Netroots has renewed my enthusiasm for social media, transgender health promotion, and community building. Grateful for the opportunity, I learned on so many different levels– from ways to write a more effective tweet, to methods of quantitative analysis of social media data. I was able to renew old friendships, establish new ones, and identify numerous organizations, including and beyond the familiar LGBT ones, that are working toward common goals and have numerous resources that our communities can use and contribute to (see earlier posts, for example, Sean’s Social Media for the Social Good).

Van Jones’ speech on Saturday (also, take a look at this quick shoutout he did on the fly for COLAGE on Friday) really brought it all home for me; he inspires passion, movement building, acting collectively and working across all our very different issues. His main example, ‘Hope and Change,’ were words from Obama that galvanized an American movement leading up to the 2008 election. By 2009, though, hope and change had turned to heartbreak for many.

But Jones reminded us that all humans are fallible. No social movement–or organization–can simply rely on charismatic leaders to achieve its goals or solve its numerous problems. We all–including our greatest leaders–make many mistakes on our paths toward achievement; some “sell out”; others grow tired and burned out; while others may make very different decisions than we might expect or want. The key is to build a movement, made up of networks and an infrastructure, that is resilient enough to endure our individual flaws. The other key is to love; not just those on “our side” or fighting for “our issue” but those we disagree with and may not understand at all. These are the keys to movement building that will allow us to walk under a common banner without having to give up our own struggles and identities.

Thank you, Van Jones, Netroots, the Network for LGBT Health Equity, and thank you all for sustaining this space for guest bloggers. We’re building networks and maybe even a movement!

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