Getting the #eword blocked?

In a little bit I hope you’ll be reading more here on the #eword seminar Chicago Dept. of Health just put on showing nonprofits how to use social media to reach and activate their constituent base. We were lucky enough that Gustavo Torrez, the Project Manager for the Network for LGBT Tobacco Control was giving a keynote (and a case study, and on a panel, and videotaping the day… because we’re nothing if not overachievers!). But I wanted to just quickly comment on the one amusing thing here… that as is not uncommon, but was pretty humorous here… the Chicago Dept of Health blocked social media sites from their computer links. This left presenters dangling a bit, as they tried to demonstrate sites they couldn’t see, like Twitter. But, I want to give folk a little heads up to a workaround that can really help, learned from an Oklahoma dept of Health rep… even tho many orgs are blocking social media sites, you can often get around this with, drumroll please… Twitter. Wait, why? Isn’t that who Chicago Dept of Health blocked? (you ask). Yes, they did block the website, but one reason Twitter has gained such popularity recently is because it’s tuned to be used from your cell phone, without any web access! For those of you not familiar with Twitter yet, it just allows text length posts on ‘whassup’. So, it’s like having the status updates from FaceBook, without any of the other stuff. You follow folks, and the ones that follow you can see all your updates. But since they are text length… it’s pretty easy and viable to just set up yr phone so you can text to Twitter. Now, albeit, you can’t run a full organizational Twitter presence without getting full web access sometime, figuring out who to follow, or replying to folk who comment. But if you’re trying to work around social media blocking… consider this little OK trick as a bandaid.

And later watch for a full update on the #eword panel, it sounds like it went really well. Plus… we videotaped lots of it, so hope to be putting up youtube videos on it soon as well!


Network Director
Network for LGBT Tobacco Control
A proud project of The Fenway Institute
Boston, MA
Action Alerts

Queer the Census campaign launches!

Queer the Census, my clothing, everything!

Data, data, data! As a researcher I’m saying this lots, we need data! We need LGBT folk to be counted because every time we are invisible, we miss out on resources, funding, research, services. And for a data wonk, the next few months are really exciting. Because in about a month the once every 10 years census forms will hit our houses. Do they count us? NO. (OK, they will count same sex households, and that’s good, but it’s still like trying to count the number of people by seeing how many shirts are in the laundry, not wholly wrong, but not super precise either.) So I love the brainstorm an old friend had one day, why not slap stickers on our census envelopes with the type of question we’d like to see added? Luckily this friend was the head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and so she was able to make that brilliant idea into a full fledged census data campaign; Queer the Census! See their amazing petition, stickers and more here. And whatever happens, be sure to get your sticker so you can fill out your census, then tell them which question was missing!

The Network for LGBT Tobacco Control is very proud to be funding an organizer for this campaign so some of its energy can be turned towards health. Watch for more on that soon, but for now, let’s tell them we need to be counted!


Director, Network for LGBT Tobacco Control
A proud project of The Fenway Institute
Boston, MA
Creating Change 2010

Amazing Mas-queer-ade ball

Campus Progress, Youth First Texas, OUTmedia, Campus Pride, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, and the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network sponsored an amazing event last night at Creating Change.  Kit Yan and Vidur Kapur were the big celebrity draws, but the queer youth at the conference stole the show.

Youth First Texas folks put on a fabulous drag show and dance performance and I swear Lady Gaga and Beyonce were in the house.  In fact, Lady Gaga might want to watch her back.  Tons of youth packed the house, as well as conference attendees of all ages and local folks from the dallas community.  We packed the house and rocked it.

The Network’s fabulous scholarship recipient Julian did an *amazing* spoken word piece that blew my mind.  I hear that there’s a video of it out there but I can’t find it.  When I do, I’m posting it and you gotta watch it because it was powerful…in fact, Kit Yan said that Julian spits fire with his words and it’s true.   Wow!.

Creating Change 2010

HIV infection rates in people over 50 are huge and rapidly growing

On Friday I went to a workshop entitled “HIV/AIDs as we grow older” put on by SAGE, ACRIA and GMHC.

Sage- Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders
ACRIA- AIDS Community Research Initiative of America
GMHC- Gay Men’s Health Crisis

All of these are amazing orgs, you should check them out.

The purpose of this workshop was to discuss the findings of ROAH- Research on Older Adults with HIV.  The number of adults age 50 and older with HIV/AIDS rose from 65,655 cases in 2001 to 104,206 cases in 2004.  That’s an increase in 59% over three years.  Between 10% and 19% of newly diagnosed HIV positive people  are 50 years or older.  Does that sound surprising to you?  It surprised me.  One of the big parts of the conversation was about the fact that we don’t really think about people over 50 having unsafe sex and needing to be reminded to use clean needles and condoms.  Something I found really interesting was that I was the only person in the workshop in my 20’s and that the majority of attendees were between 40 and 60 years old.  It was a visual and literal example of the generational disconnect when it comes to talking about HIV/AIDS prevention.

I’m gonna throw a couple more mind-boggling statistics at you.  These can be found by accessing and finding the “White Paper on HIV & LGBT Aging, January 2010”

*Currently, 29% of all people with AIDS in the US are 50 or older.

*By 2015, *HALF* of persons living with HIV in New York City will be age 50 and older.

*The percent of people with AIDS over the age of 50 is now more than twice that of people under age 24.

Some of the reasons why…Doctors don’t necessarily think that older people are at risk of contracting HIV– physicians that were interviewed “did not give any type of prevention advice to older adults.”  HIV testing isn’t offered at senior centers or assisted living facilities, public access information doesn’t address older adults, criminalization laws may discourage folks from getting tested, older men may not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation or behaviors and aren’t told to get tested etc. etc. etc.  This is definitely an issue we need to be looking at, and I need to make sure that I’m not the only person in my 20s who shows up for this stuff.  But I didn’t know…did you?

Creating Change 2010

impromptu collaborating on bi & trans issues in the hotel sports bar

There are so many beautiful things that happen at Creating Change.  One of them is what I like to call the impromptu mini-sessions.  You know, those ones that take place during the wait in line for an elevator or downstairs in the hotel lobby in between sessions that can turn into some of the most amazing networking and collaborating done at the entire conference…

Here’s a great example… It’s been hard to find food easily during the conference and I finally had a break between sessions and staffing the booth so I went to the hotel sports bar for a burger in the mid-afternoon.  My plans were to eat quickly and try to take a power nap.  Be sure and see my previous post on self-care (or lack thereof) at conferences.

I hopped in and order a burger.  I was eating at the bar when Josephine Tittsworth came in for a drink and decided to stay and have a snack so we could talk.  Josephine and I connected the day before while I was staffing the lgbt tobacco control network booth.  One of our many common interests is transgender advocacy.  Josephine does tons of incredible trans organizing down here in Texas, and is currently trying to get her college to incorporate “gender identity and expression” in the campus non-discrimination policy.

Getting gender identity and expression into a college campus non-discrimination policy is hugely important.  CU-Boulder has sexual orientation in our policy but we are currently working to try and get gender identity and expression added as well.  College campuses all across the country are working on this, and some are having a harder time getting it done than others.  One of the best ways to work on something like this is to talk to other schools in different stages of trying to do the same thing- folks who have gotten it added, folks who are also working on it at their schools etc… find out what’s worked and what hasn’t worked, share ideas/resources/experiences/knowledge and collaborate.

So Josephine and I started chatting more about campus inclusivity and some of our other common interests like social work.  Then Matt from Bi-Net DFW showed up and joined in the conversation as I was doing my now repetitive shpiel about needing creating change nap time and activist burnout.  It caught his attention and then when I turned to face him we recognized each other from a lot of the bi networking that has been going on here.

The three of us spent the next hour and a half talking more about the many intersections that the three of us have identified between with Transgender and the Bisexual communities, and brainstormed some more possibilities, hopes and dreams for networking and collaborating together in the future.

I’ll leave you with saying that we’re really hoping to do some serious work over the next year and from here on out, because, the 3 of us at least believe that the Bi and Trans communities have some definite areas of commonality to build coalitions around.  Matt also has a great way of saying something that I feel, which is that we’re all working towards equality…and true equality would have us working together on things and collaborating, because being bi and being trans aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive or inclusive- and that shouldn’t matter, because we’re supposed to be making this world a better place for ALL people regardless of race, socio-economic status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ability, religion, age, nationality, level of education etc. etc. etc.

That is just one example of many of the great impromptu things that go on here at Creating Change.  I never did get that nap in, and Matt got inspired to change the topic for his caucus that was coming up in an hour…but hey, that’s how creating change works sometimes isn’t it?

Creating Change 2010

Some Thoughts on Self-Care at CC

We activists talk a good talk about self-care, but we often forget to walk the walk.  Which really means, we forget to take a chance to slow down and rejuvenate/debrief/*eat*/*sleep*/do something fun if it’s been a hard day etc.  I keep saying that we should include “nap time” or “break time” during Creating Change.  The Lunch on your-own time is great, but it’s not enough time to eat and take a nap in a lot of cases.  Why am I writing about this? Well, I’m interested in lgbtq health- physical, spiritual, mental, and in keeping this active, passionate community going!!

Activists suffer from burn-out a lot.  In a way, Creating Change is a micro-example of that.  Step back for a minute and think about how early you’ve been getting up, how many workshops and meetings and networking events (all of which are awesome, don’t get me wrong,) that you went to each and every day before finally hitting the bed to catch some shut eye and waking up what feels like a second after you got in bed?

How many times did you meet people in the hallway/elevator/lobby/wherever and say “how’s your conference going?” and hear “it’s great but I gotta say I’m really, really tired.”  We are so excited about being here and connecting with all of our awesome fellow social justice activists that we do the same thing we do in our every day lives, we go go go and then a lot of us burn out from sheer exhaustion or catch colds from each other, etc.  A wise community leader just told me “a dead activist isn’t a good activist.”   It sounds kind of harsh, but he’s exactly right.

Does it mean the conference would have to extend a day longer maybe? maybe… but, if each day there was a larger chunk of time for self-care, where you were encouraged to go take a nap in your room or rehydrate and eat or take a chance to step outside the hotel and explore the city you’re visiting and that in turn kept you healthy and rested, don’t you think it’d be worth it?

I do, and I definitely think it’s worth having a dialogue about considering for future CC conferences.  We gotta keep each other healthy and strong ’cause we’ve still got a lot of work to do.

That said,  as exhausted as I am, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Many thanks again to the LGBT Tobacco Control Network whose generous scholarship allowed me to attend my second Creating Change.  I look forward to the year ahead and hope to be seeing many of you next year at Creating Change.

Take good care of yourselves & your fellow activists!

Creating Change 2010

Be on the lookout for…

1)a post about the AMAZING mas-queer-ade youth event tonight, with a special shoutout to fellow scholarship recipient Julian’s AMAZING spoken word piece that blew my mind and resonated deep inside

2) a post about the fascinating data that just came out about HIV rates growing in the lgbtq populations of people over age 50

3)more bi and trans networking with Robyn Ochs and members of BiNet DFW and BiNet LA

4) impromptu activist discussions in hotel sports bar during a lunch break about campus inclusion practices

and  maybe more…

these blogs will be posted over the next 24 hours as internet access is available.

woot cc2010. AMAZING!  so thankful to the network for sponsoring me. met so many amazing people and love the powerful recharging activist energy high!!

Creating Change 2010

House/ Ballroom Scene 101

OMG! the best workshop!total plug in from the attendees.
Interactive doesn’t begin to describe the scene in that space. It was overfilled with attendees, and it was good that the session next door got cancelled because this workshop took over the empty space filling it too!   Vogue Evolution. THANK YOU. I love that you remind folks where Voguing and “glammor” come from.  The Black,Asian and Latino; marginalized,excommunicated,displaced,kicked out homeless, MORE than Queens created it! Straight(not) out of urban areas dating back to the roaring 20’s and the historical era we now refer to as the Harlem Renaissance came a movement forged from displacement and marginalization. From homophobia and love turned conditional came fierceness. HONEY. “Snap snap”– Vogue Evolution provided a facinating historical perspective, and a view of current trends into this world that replaces or stands in for biological family.  A given family that the displaced are welcomed, fed, housed and the conditioning love is about how fabulous you are and not who you do it with.
The next time you see a runway model work it, see the coolest fashion piece, hear the def-ist music, learn the latest dance ask yourself what House that came from.
Remember that it was probably a fierce, fierce queen of color. Remember, remind and CLAIM IT…if you don’t someone else will and we don’t want that do we?
Vogue brought it for sure and they better be a CC next year!

Creating Change 2010

First Nations Collective Caucaus

wow, I am speechless that the 1st Nations Collective organized a Native Talking Circle.  It was great to met some of the important players representing at the table for the conference.  The same group that was on stage during the Opening Plenary were at the gathering.  It felt great to personally met all of them in person.  They expressed some of the work that they do during the conference and also with the planning process.  They make sure there is Native representation at the Creating Change Conference.

I expressed some of my concerns with the group such as stats not reflecting Native American populations, not enough Native sessions and having a Native representation at the higher level of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  I also asked the group, “Why they chose to be called First Nations?”  They had a great response for my question, which was good.

It felt good to actually speak my Native tongue as I introduced myself to the group.  It really felt good to identify as a Native American Transgender among my Native brothers and sisters.  I wish I could be able to do that introduction at Chapter Meetings back on the reservation or stand up in front of the Navajo Nation Council as a PROUD Native American Transgender.

Some of the discussion we had was around the term, “Two Spirit.”  It was great to get feedback from the group.  I shared, as a Navajo, it is hard to comes to grip that that term.  As a Navajo raised on the reservation, I was not aware of the term, until I moved to the city.  I mentioned to the group, identify as a naa’dlah’.

Tonight is the dance for the evening event.  I am looking forward to shaking a leg.  #cc2010 #qnet

Creating Change 2010

Bi & Queer organizing with Trans inclusion!

Several activists from across the country gathered in the bi hospitality suite to informally discuss more of our experiences and desires that have come up during the conference.  Matt who leads BiNet Dallas firmly believes that trans identified folks and bi indentified folks should band together and do work on inclusivity, visibility and networking. 

College students shared their desires to create bi affirming groups on their campuses.  Some parts of the country have chapters of Bi Net that are close to 20 years old.  Boulder, Colorado has nothing in the way of a bisexual organization and neither does the University of Colorado.  The University does have a trans group, which puts us ahead of the curve of some places, but I’d really like to get a bi/queer/fluid group going. 

We need to keep working on including the “B” and the “T”.  Creating Change is a great place to network and get ideas from other folks.  The hope is that next year’s Creating Change will have a bi organizing section.