Monday, March 16, 2015

#LGBTMedia15-Moni's View Of A Conference

For the third consecutive year I was blessed to get an invitation to attend the 6th annual LGBT Media Journalists Convening along with LGBTQ journalists from 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Before I even left for Philly, I had four activism events in two days in Houston, and got back home from the Misfits panel at almost midnight.  

Since I had to allow for METRO bus travel time, I had to get up at 4 AM to get to the airport early enough to check my bag and clear TSA security before my flight.  That meant I was getting barely three hours of sleep before I bounced to Hobby to start my trek via Chicago to Philadelphia.

My lack of sleep started messing with me early when I got off my initial bus block one stop too soon to connect with the 50 Harrisburg that would take me to Hobby.  After realizing my error, I had to quickly walk with my roller bags from Washington Ave two blocks over to the stop on Memorial Drive in the shadow of the municipal courthouse..

I made it to the stop in time because my 50 Harrisburg bus was a few minutes late, and made it to Hobby Airport without further incident.  I checked one bag, cleared TSA security and headed to Gate 51 to wait to board my 8 AM CDT departure to Philadelphia via Chicago-Midway.

I was surprised to see Cristan Williams pop up in the Gate 51 lobby area a few moments later and we ended up traveling to Philly together. 

After arriving in a cloudy and cool Philly and getting to the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel a little after 4 PM  EDT, we settled into our rooms in preparation for the reception that would happen at Comcast Center several blocks up the street at 7 PM. 

I called Mom to let her know I'd safely made it, then fired up my trusty laptop to take advantage of the comp WiFi and check my e-mail.

LGBT Media Journalists ConveningI was hungry, and noted a small diner called Little Pete's that was just across 17th Street from our hotel.  I ambled down from my 10th floor room, wandered in and ordered some mild buffalo wings to go. While I was waiting for those wings, I had this strange deja vu feeling about this place, and I would find out later at the reception why.

The four events in two days along with the flights, the food and my quiet room sent me to dreamland, and I woke up at 7:15 PM.   After quickly getting dressed, I made it up those six blocks as fast as I could for what was left of the #LGBTMedia15 kickoff reception in the spacious lobby of the building.

I made it, and even managed to get one glass of wine in along with greetings and hugs from several peeps and my friends in the LGBT writing world.  One of them was a local Philly attendee who not only thanked me for my TransGriot posts about the 1965 Dewey's Lunch Counter Sit In, let me know I was staying right across the street from it.

It floored me to know that I'd just bought wings from the place that 50 years ago next month was the site of some trans history before I sat down and waited for the keynote speech from the Rev Dr William Barber.

Soon to be birthday girl Faith Cheltenham joined me, and we were inspired along with everyone else by the dynamic keynote speech that Dr Barber gave us that urged us to not only reclaim the moral high ground in our movement that we have mistakenly ceded to our opponents, but build an intersectional movement at the same time that will fight just as hard for voting rights, a woman's right to choose and a livable wage as we do for marriage.

And I got to ask a question of Dr Barber, who remembered that we'd met in Louisville back in 2005 at the Unity Banquet there, what was the NAACP's stance about the legislation popping up in Florida, Texas and the now dead one in Kentucky seeking to criminalize being transgender?

Answer.  NAACP is opposed to it.   So trans community and allies, get your state and local chapters busy calling the wingers out about those unjust laws

The next day began with breakfast at 7 AM and then heading to the hotel's Grand Ballroom at 9 AM to get our learn on. After the welcome from Bil Browning and singing Happy Birthday to Faith, we got down to the business of getting our learn on in the panels discussions.

The initial panel of the day was entitled The Latest Rightwing Attack: The Danger Of 'Religious Liberty' Laws.   It featured Katherine Grainger breaking down the spate of "Religious Liberty" laws designed to gut the human rights progress we've made over the last 50 years with Matt Foreman asking the questions..

At 9:45 AM the Erin Rook moderated panel entitled What Happens When The Dog Catches The Car with panelists Tiq Milan, Spectra Asala and Urvashi Vaid discussing what's next after marriage equality is achieved.

That gave way after a spirited discussion to a 11:30 AM Brynn Tannehill moderated panel after our 15 minute break entitled Naming and the LGBTQ Community

Panelists Diane Anderson-Minshall, Dr Scout and Eliel Cruz had a  wide ranging, fast paced discussion that took us into lunch.

During that lunch, the new Philadelphia LGBT Liaison Nellie Fitzpatrick not only gave us a rousing speech entitled Fighting For Equality From Within: How Government Officials Are Advancing LGBT Rights,  but read a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Nutter declaring Saturday as 'LGBT Media Journalism Day' .

After lunch, we LGBT Media attendees had a choice between two break out sessions. Bijacked: Bisexuals Strike Back Against Inaccurate Reporting or Allies in Race and Gender.

Once those were done, me and my trans cohorts took our break  opportunity to head across the street from our hotel and take group photos in front of the former Dewey's.   Hope there will be a 50th anniversary commemoration of that transcentric historical event next month.

We returned for the final session of the day entitled Three Great HIV Story Ideas You Could Write Tomorrow in which the panelists led my moderator Mark King went through some suggestion of HIV centric stories that we could immediately compose..  We were also given an HIV Style guide to take home with us.

After the feedback session, the #LGBTMedia15 panels were over.   But we still had a visit coming to the John C Anderson Apartments later that evening for a wine and cheese reception there..   It's a LGBT -centric senior apartment building that had just broken ground for construction when the LGBT Media Journalists Convening was last in town   Now it was finished, and the Philly LGBT community was eager to show it off.  

In addition to proudly noting that it had a 150 name waiting list to get into the building, I was also pleased to get my tour of it conducted by a trans elder.

We also spent some time while we were there in a LGBT Women in Media discussion in which a intergenerational group discussed some of the issues affecting the community from our perspectives.

While some of our crew headed to the 11 PM public event at Tavern on Camac, the four vents in two day before I left Houston was finally catching up with me, so I decided to get y cheesesteak ata a place i spotted on the walk from the hotel to the Anderson Apartments and call it a night.

I was obviously still tired because I slept through my alarm and the start of the Sunday closing brunch.

And just like that, my #LGBTMedia15 weekend in Philly was over and I was boarding a shuttle to take me to the airport and my semi-boring life in Texas.

We'll see if I get the invite to participate in #LGBTMedia16 in Baltimore.   If I get to do so, definitely looking to destroy some crab cakes.

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