Thursday, September 20, 2012

2012 OUT on the Hill-Day 1 Recap

Hey TransGriot readers, I've moved from my double secret location in NE DC at Jeri's house to the host hotel for tonight's, Friday's and Saturday's Out on the Hill 2012 activities, but needed to write up while it's still fresh on my mind what transpired during Day 1.   

As i write this there is a lobbying event going on along with the unveiling of the NBJC booth in the vendor area at the CBCF-ALC, but I needed to give y'all the 411 on what happened during Day One of OUT On The Hill

After getting my beauty sleep at Jeri's and getting my diva look on, I headed to the Georgia Ave-Petworth station, jumped on the METRO train and headed over to HUD headquarters to start my OUT on the Hill 2012 experience.   I was more than eager to get registered.for the informative action packed day that was going to unfold and feeling like a kid attending their first day of school.

I was more than ready to see everyone after my interesting travel day up there.

After I cleared security (this is Washington DC people)  I picked up my packet to the warm greetings and hugs from two of the volunteers who remembered me from last year's event.

While in the lobby area outside the Auditorium waiting for the OUT on ther Hill Opening General Session to start introduced myself to some of the first timers attending the conference.  As I talked to them, I was spotted by some of the vets, NBJC staff and other friends in the Black SGL and trans community

The General Session started with remarks from our OUT on the Hill national chair LZ Granderson, NBJC Founder Donna Payne, Darlene Nipper and eventually NBJC ED/CEO Sharom-Lettman Hicks after some thought provoking words about why OUT on the Hill was so important to this community via LZ and Donna.

After Sharon's welcoming speech and reminder to all of us we were here to Own Our Power, after some housekeeping anoouncements it was time for our first session.

It was the Legislative Issues briefing moderated by Aisha Moodie-Mills.    It had in addition to her moderating it my GLAAD media training classmate Maya Rupert, and Michael Brewer from NBJC.  There were points made about pending legislation such as the Student Non Discrimination Act, DOMA repeal,  ENDA, discussion about voter suppression and other issues pertinent to our chocolate LGBT community.

That panel ended, and we picked up our box lunches and prepared to head over on the METRO once again to the White House for our 1:00 PM briefing.    I chuckled when on my way into the White House I ran into someone I'd met during Netroots Nation who had just left as I discovred after I cleared security that had attended an LGBT Policy Roundtable that started at 9:30 AM.

I was also pleasantly pleased and surprised to discover that the White House intern who was working our event was part of our trans family. 

As we settled in to receive policy briefings from Obama administration officials and ask questions about it if we had time, my attention got diverted for a few moments from the speaker on the stage to a very familiar person walking into the briefing room carrying her purse and her travel bags  .

It was Janet Mock.   She'd told me she was coming to DC while I was in New York for the GLAAD media training, but I'd forgotten she had an invite to attend an event at Vice President Joe Biden's house that was scheduled for yesterday. 

She was attending it with Sharon Lettman-Hicks and Kimberley McLeod, so she killed some time with us until it was time for her to head over there.

After Senior Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett's remarks at 5:00 PM closed the event came the interesting part of the day for me.  

 There was a Networking reception starting at 6:00 PM.  No problem.  Y'all know I love hanging with my Black LGBT peeps and interacting with them during this event.  

The interesting part was the location for it, the headquarters of a certain Equal Sign organizations on Rhode Island Avenue.

As y'all know from reading this blog, as a long time activist I started during at time in the late 90's when there was a no love lost Cold War type hostility between the trans community and HRC, and the 2007 ENDA shenanigans didn't help that. 

I still have a verify then trust attitude toward HRC as a result of that formative activist drama, but as I entered the HQ after walking over there from the White House with my trans and SGL family I decided to focus on the fact I was there on NBJC business and on the activism announcement I was going to make a little later.

Got to meet more people, see more old friends, more of my TransGriot readers, and have some interesting and substantive conversations.  Finally got to see Kylar, Charles Pugh, Jeffrey Richardson from the DC city government and renew acquaintances with Shannon Minter.  I also didn't realize until after I left for the evening that I'd been sitting less than 50 feet from Kye Allums, who I have been eager to meet. 

I also had a serious conversation with members of a student group from Florida A&M.  I told them a little bit about some of the stuff I was exposed to in terms of passing sexual orientation and gender identity languge in collegiate noddisrimination policies idoing with the Texas Transgender Nnondiscrimimation Summit.  It's a battle they are currently engaged in at FAMU.

We had a moment during the reception in which we were invited to tell the gathered people in the room why OUT on the Hill was important to us, and yes I was the first up to the mic to say so. 

I also took that opportunity to announce that I was joining the Trans Person Of Color Coalition team effective immediately.

Not long after that Janet, Sharon, and Kimberley arrived from VP Biden's house and Janet took a moment along with Sharon to address the crowd.

9 PM came far too soon and Kimberley and I discovered that I was staying less than three blocks from her place, so I joined her and  Janet for a drink and converation at Chez Billy's.

After almost two hours, it was time for all of us to crash for the night since Kimberley's day started way earlier than mine and I safely made my way back to Jeri's house to prepeare for Day 2 of OUT on the Hill

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