The event itself is exhausting, and I mean that in a good way. Those who find themselves drawn into the work of promoting Equality, social justice, human rights, and basic human dignities can often get overwhelmed by the many challenges that we all face on a day-to-day basis. It'd be easy to throw up your hands in frustration and try to turn your back on it all, to fade back into society quietly. But to do that is to force your social consciousness back into a stupor where to see the many injustices that so many endure and not act up or speak up is to acknowledge that it's ok.
It was fascinating for me to see the broad range of flavors of people who attended the conference, and the various reasons why people were there. Movement leaders were there, and all were wonderfully open and accessible throughout the conference. Many of our youth were there, and in fact many of the workshops focused specifically on working with youth, organizing, engaging, using technology and social media, and other critical challenges.
Some were there to learn. I know I was. I've been involved with the "movement" for a long time now and this was the first time that I had an official role there. I did learn much. I met some great people with whom I expect to continue to talk and build relationships. In fact, the event couldn't have come at a better time for me and was invaluable in that regard.
I was able to have some face-to-face, one-on-one conversations with some people in the hopes of keeping lines of communication open and to avoid the typical online sniping and non-productive rhetoric that so often drags important topics into little more than a public pissing match. I hope those lines of communication remain open, that areas where we can agree provide a foundation for dialogue, and that areas where we fundamentally disagree can be respected as simply part of the diversity of life experience where there are no absolutes or fundamental truths.
I got to spend some personal one-on-one time with people I don't get to see or talk to very often, and I made a number of new friends.
Some were there to engage in productive and constructive dialogue. Some were there to educate, and to be educated - the range of workshops was truly amazing. Some were there to network, and there was lots of that going on. Some were there to, well, shall we say...meet someone. Seemed to be lots of that going on, too.
A video of Rae Carey's "State of the Movement" address is now available online (watch it here), and the text of the entire thing is available as well (read it here).
Here is part of it (begins about 37 minutes into the video):
Truly transformative change, change that shifts the very foundations of our society, change that seeks to impact hearts and minds and behavior, this is the change that lasts. And this is the change to which we are called.I agree....
As we seek this change, we must do so recommitted to our common future, and to each others successes.
As we move into this new decade we face new choices about how we do our work as a movement. Make new choices about who we partner with. And so, as we do make those new decisions about what’s next for us there are a few things I think we should consider.
First, we must make our movement one that truly represents the racial, gender, and economic diversity of our community. We cannot make the progress we need to make on the many issues that affect the lives of LGBT people with so many of our organizations run by white people. The more diverse we are, the more representative we are, the stronger we will be.
Second, we must work harder to make gender identity and expression central to all of our work. We all have a gender identity. We all express our gender in different ways.
Our transgender brothers and sisters are bearing the brunt of discrimination. The attack is also on those of us who do not identify as transgender. Just this morning we released a report on the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, “Injustice at Every Turn”. We were proud to have done this in partner with the National Center for Transgender Equality.
This survey provides groundbreaking data about transgender and gender non-confirming people. The results show that transgender people, and especially people of color, face devastating levels of discrimination in every area of their lives. And, they show incredible resilience even in the face of this discrimination.
This survey is a wake-up call and a call to action for our movement. This must be a shared fight.
The importance of this cannot be understated because the numbers speak for themselves. And we need to USE these numbers. Whether you're part of an LGBT affinity group or an advocacy organization or you're part of government these levels of discrimination and the subsequent outcomes are staggering.
There are copies of this Executive Summary (read it here) as well as a version of the entire 260+ page report (read it here) online.
A warning in advance - it can be pretty depressing reading. But reality can be depressing.
On another, less depressing topic (unless you're a Steelers fan) I was home and in front of my TV in time for kickoff last night. I enjoyed the game. I enjoyed the commercials. I was stuffed by halftime (and actually, I'm still feeling stuffed this morning). All in all, I'm glad that my streak of 45 Super Bowls in a row continues unbroken.
Lastly, I created a slideshow of some photographs that my mom shared with me over Christmas. When my ex- suggested that I go away and stay away I lost all of my photographs from a significant and important time in my life - when my son was young (and so was I). I really enjoyed getting these photos because, in a way, it feels like I've gotten part of my life back.
I put some of the photos into a short slideshow that I will share here. Those of us who are parents or who have experienced the loss of similar portions of our lives - lives that have helped to make us who and what we are today - will understand what I'm saying. If nothing else - I enjoy looking back at my son. He sure was cute. As for his dad?? Well, not so much. :)
My Son. And his Dad. from Donna Rose on Vimeo.