People are commenting….

Exciting!!!!  Folks are commenting on the Health Equity Plan at the Network’s booth.  At times, we have had all three computers with people adding their voice on this important national plan that has left behind our community.   People are offended when they hear that in this 200-page, LGBT is only mentioned twice, and one of them as a footnote.  It moves them to take action.  Not sure how many entries we have had, but with so many comments, I expect this Action Plan to include our community.  Let’s see what happens!!!!

FINALLY, a sunny day in Dallas, Texas…. beach anyone???

Friday, February 5th brought shine and opportunities with new conference sessions, working at the Network’s exhibit booth, meeting new people, and sharing my experiences as a gay Latino man.  I went to several sessions but I must tell of my time while at Story Telling for Social Change.  A small room in the 37th floor at the Sheraton gathered about 25 people who shared their experiences as LGBT folks and allies with those in the room.  Without a doubt, my favorite session so far. We always talk about bringing the issues to a personal level, to bring personal stories and make it relatable to an issue.  But, how do we do that?  How do we capture that story and relate it to the realities we face?  How do we offer a space for people to tell their stories without our personal biases and experiences?

The speaker focused on simple questions like “what happened to you?” and “anything else you want to share?”  She stressed on the importance of listening and the ability to relate someone else’s story as key elements for social change.  I felt tears in my eyes as a woman at the session shared with me her personal story as a Latina woman, and how she felt that she may not fit in with Latinos/as because of the way she look, like a Caucasian woman.  At the end, and after listening to her story, I told her that she was a Latina woman simply because she felt like one.  It did not matter what she looked like and how others perceived her but that in her heart and her ethnic background were enough reason for her to be proud of her Latina heritage.  She smiled back at me and I left with the satisfaction of focusing on her versus thinking of judgments or ways she was suppose to fit it.

Paz=Peace!

Masculine of Center

Good workshop Exploration of Power, Gender and Class. Well Done
Gender for me is a fluid. I have always been Butch, Stud ,masculine of the center gender, and now Daddy.  When gender was less of a concern I was deemed a tomboy by family and friends.
Tobacco relates to gender issues for me especially in terms of trans friends and family, who smoke or use other tobacco products because of the damage it does as folks transition, especially for those who do the surgery paths. Tobacco tears down the skin grafting and makes the healing process slower and more prone to infection.

PEACE

Roxanne “ANDE”

Quick Tips from Wonderwillow

Last night I got plenty of sleep yet this morning I woke with my head hurting. Couldn’t figure out why. Luckily I got on the evator with a brilliant person who works in LGBT health.

The problem: dehydration

So simple! Water! So stay hydrated by stopping by the water coolers that are everywhere & carrying a water bottle.

I'm a lifetime NAACP Member, Are You?

Last night’s biggest think piece here at Creating Change came late… I was hanging out with friends and Andres ducked out then returned with a new buddy to add to the mix. I ask the new man what he does for work, joy or fun and he says he works at NAACP. I jokingly say NAACP, who’s that? But then say I was just joshing, I actually just became a lifetime member. His ears perk up, really, when did I do that? Oh… you know, after the National Equality March last fall. You see Julian Bond was the keynote speaker and I was floored at his amazing speech. While a certain elected official had recently talked about LGBT rights at the HRC dinner the night before in carefully measured words, Dr. Bond went so far beyond that, his speech was truly historic and deeply moved me. I’ll talk more about it later, but I encourage you all to watch it on youtube here and here. So you know, I tell our new friend at the table, the guy who introduced Dr. Bond told us all to become members, so I did. The new person stops, turns to Andres next to him and say “He just disproved what I said at the racial justice workshop.” Huh? Well, the story unfolds and it turns out… the new man at the table was Maxim Thorne, Senior VP of NAACP. He introduced Dr. Bond at the March. He calling for us all to please show our support by becoming members of NAACP. But after one of the most amazing speeches of welcoming and commitment to LGBT civil rights I’ve ever heard, given by a straight man who is the head of NAACP, Director Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who has a wall of praise for his work in the civil rights movement… almost no one of the tens of thousands of LGBT and allied people who were listening followed Maxim’s urging and became a member of NAACP.

More on this later, but for now I’ll simply leave with Maxim’s thoughts on the subject… “We have a lot of work to do.”

Best,

Scout
Director, National LGBT Tobacco Control Network
 

I'm a lifetime NAACP Member, Are You?

Last night’s biggest think piece here at Creating Change came late… I was hanging out with friends and Andres ducked out then returned with a new buddy to add to the mix. I ask the new man what he does for work, joy or fun and he says he works at NAACP. I jokingly say NAACP, who’s that? But then say I was just joshing, I actually just became a lifetime member. His ears perk up, really, when did I do that? Oh… you know, after the National Equality March last fall. You see Julian Bond was the keynote speaker and I was floored at his amazing speech. While a certain elected official had recently talked about LGBT rights at the HRC dinner the night before in carefully measured words, Dr. Bond went so far beyond that, his speech was truly historic and deeply moved me. I’ll talk more about it later, but I encourage you all to watch it on youtube here and here. So you know, I tell our new friend at the table, the guy who introduced Dr. Bond told us all to become members, so I did. The new person stops, turns to Andres next to him and say “He just disproved what I said at the racial justice workshop.” Huh? Well, the story unfolds and it turns out… the new man at the table was Maxim Thorne, Senior VP of NAACP. He introduced Dr. Bond at the March. He calling for us all to please show our support by becoming members of NAACP. But after one of the most amazing speeches of welcoming and commitment to LGBT civil rights I’ve ever heard, given by a straight man who is the head of NAACP, Director Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who has a wall of praise for his work in the civil rights movement… almost no one of the tens of thousands of LGBT and allied people who were listening followed Maxim’s urging and became a member of NAACP.

More on this later, but for now I’ll simply leave with Maxim’s thoughts on the subject… “We have a lot of work to do.”

Best,

Scout
Director, National LGBT Tobacco Control Network
 

Bisexual/Pansexual/Fluid Organizing Institute

At least 65 people gathered on Thursday, February 4th, 2010 to attend the first ever bisexual/pansexual/fluid/queer sexual organizing institute at Creating Change.  We spent the first part of the day brainstorming about the things we need and want in terms of Bi/queer inclusion in the Lesbian and Gay communities.  For as often as we write “LGBTQ” there’s not a lot of inclusivity for the B or the T.

Many people expressed tremendous joy at being a room with so many other people who identified openly as bisexual, omnisexual, pansexual, queer or something else.  One woman said “I can’t believe how great it feels to be in a room with 65 bi people.”  Of course, some people identified as bi-allies but their presence validated the tremendous need for bi/pan/fluid/queer inclusivity.

Time and again people shared the pain they felt being excluded from within their own community.  People shared stories of hiding their bisexuality from friends who were  gay and straight, expressing a feeling of never fully fitting in.

The walls of the room were covered in papers from brainstorming sessions for bi/pan/fluid/queer organizing from years ago, and we spent one of the first parts of the day making new ideas of things we wanted to see from a bi movement.  We identified tons of needs and desires and after a rousing discussion we identified four main goals.

1) Education & Outreach

2) Intersectionality of Equality

3) Community  Building/ “Bi Infrastructure”

4) Mentoring New Leaders

But  let’s be serious, activism isn’t that neat and tidy.  I’ve got 3 pages of scrawling notes and I’m gonna queer it up and throw some out at ya…

We want: to erase bi stigma, we want to find out how to work with the existing national lgbt organizations for bi inclusivity and to localize resources.  We want inclusive cultural representation in art and media.  we want information and education, we want to be more proactive with the media and less reactive.  we want to increase our visibility.  we want to celebrate the bi celebrities and get away from that “oh it’s a publicity stunt” lens.  we want to work on trans inclusion and the intersection of bi/pan/queer/fluid sexual orientation with race, religion, ethnicity, ability, age, socio-economic status, etc etc. we want to grow our voices and fight against biphobia.  we want to STOP the INFIGHTING and CELEBRATE OUR MULTIPLICITY OF IDENTITIES.

“it’s not a phase, it’s my life” is the new slogan people were sporting on shirts and buttons.  we want recognition that, despite what Miranda on “Sex and The City” (btw I love that show so don’t get me wrong), bisexuality is not “just a layover on the way to gay-town.”  There were people ranging in ages of about 16-70 at least.  It was funny, that SATC episode, and I laughed, except that perpetuates exactly what we are fighting against here.

We came up with some really great ideas, but I’m going to save that for a separate post.  More on bi organizing later.

I am thrilled that the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network set me up to come to the conference and this was a great way to start off Creating Change 2010.

Filming of "Two Spirits"

I had the opportunity to check out the screening of “Two Spirits” @ Creating Change.  For respect of the film and presentors – we have been asked to not post any blogs, comments or tweets about the film.  It is currently being filmed at Film Festivals across the country including London. 

My personal opinion was it was a great movie.  I am looking forward to sharing it with my Native GLBT community in the Phoenix area, when it becomes available.

The room was packed (over 100+) and they are doing a 2nd screening this evening.

Personal Rules for the Creating Change Conference

At dinner the other night a good friend and mentor of mine said “When you come to Creating Change you can leave either so exhausted from a weekend of packing learning and networking into every minute that you go home and veg out for a month, or you can leave energized and ready to go home and get to work with all your new ideas. Which do you want?” Of course we all agreed we’d like the first option very much, thank you! Easier said than done. For my friend he needs to set a rule for himself that if he needs to take time away and either see the city he’s visiting or sleep an afternoon away in his room, that he does it. He listens to his body. He takes care of himself. This friend of mine has been coming to this conference for years. It’s sage advice. What rules are you setting for yourself so you can leave energized and take care of yourself?

%d bloggers like this: