Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2013 LGBT Media Journalists Convening-Moni's Whirlwind Philly Weekend

Was a lot of things going on this weekend at the 2013 LGBT Media Convening.   It was wonderful being in the room and finally getting to either meet many of the people in the LGBT blogging realm I know already from prior events or connect with them for the first time ever. 

While that was the highlight of the trip, we were actually there to do more than just hang out at the hotel bar.   We were there in the Loews Philadelphia Hotel to get our learn on about several issues so that we could have a better information base on which to write about these issues and how they impact our community. 

Well, it wouldn't be a Moni TBLG event trip without me having some kind of airline drama story to tell you

After a relatively smooth, quick and cramped ride on a commuter American Eagle jet to DFW, I went from my Terminal B-15 arrival gate to C-16 via the Skytrain connector to my PHL connecting flight.   Plane finally arrives about 30 minutes before departure, it's a full flight inbound and after everyone is off we're still sitting there clicking past our original 11:25 AM CST departure time with no gate announcement.

Just I get up and saunter to the podium to ask the gate agent what's up with that, they announce that maintenance has discovered an antenna problem on our Super 80 that will take the plane out of service and we're moving to C-10.

Note to AA DFW gate agent working Friday's flight:.  Making announcements will keep customers from being PO'ed at you.   Nobody likes sitting there without info and not everything can be found out on  a smartphone that is related to our specific flight.  The folks that give us a call still have to get the info from you and the peeps at the airport.  You also have to presume that not everyone has a phone or the up to the moment information you have (or don't have).   Even saying a short "maintenance is investigating a problem and as soon at they advise me I'll pass that info on to you" spiel will help.alleviate anxiety.

They quickly swap us out to another aircraft, and projected departure time is now an hour later    That plane gets to DFW at 12:05 PM, it's full, we eventually board it, but Catering didn't get the memo we'd moved..

So as we're sitting on the plane we're advised by the captain that we're waiting for catering to handle their business since they didn't get the memo about the PHL gate change.  To make it worse only one person is on the truck, the driver of it who can't back it off the coach galley without a wingman.

After that issue gets resolved and they cater first class we finally push off the gate around 12:50 PM and get airborne a few moments later.   While the flight was delayed the captain advised us he could make up the unexpected delay time because we had a tailwind.

He wasn't kidding.  My original arrival time into PHL was supposed to be 3:40 PM EST.and we pulled into gate A-7 at 4:35 PM   But by the time I got off the plane and got to the Terminal A SEPTA train station I just missed the 4:43 train with the next one not leaving the from the airport back to Philadelphia until 5:13 PM.   

The next one arrives,  I head to the hotel from the Market East station and arrive at the desk just as a few other attendees are in line or just arriving as well from their train rides to check into their rooms.   First persons I see are Andres Duque from Blabbeando, Jamillah King from Colorlines and Faith Cheltanham from BiNet USA.  I'm still amazed at times just how much love I get from bloggers other peeps in the community, and this event was no different as word quickly spread the TransGriot was in the LGBT Media Journalists house. 

After dashing upstairs to my 19th floor room to shower and change for the welcome reception dinner at Comcast Center, I come back downstairs to run into Rebecca Juro, Bamby Salcedo and Kelli Busey.  We had an animated conversation on the short bus ride over to the 40 plus story headquarters building of Comcast and  its cavernous main lobby with a state of the art video board.

The reception was on the 44th floor of the building and after a few moments we headed to our assigned seating to eat.   I was seated next to Sean Bugg of Metroweekly, and when he discovered I'd lived in Louisville for almost nine years that triggered some discussion between us and our other dinner companions about Kentucky politics before we moved to the welcomes from Bil Browning, Ruben Mendiola and Matt Foreman and the remarks from David Mixner and Cleve Jones to close out the event.  

I got into an interesting discussion with Cleve Jones about the transgender term (he doesn't like it) and why it's necessary before picking up my Tastykakes and heading back to the hotel..

Saturday morning dawned cloudy and gray, but I wasn't going outside.  Most of this day for me and the other 70 plus attendees of the 2013 LGBT Media Journalists Convening would be spent in the Washington Room.  In addition to the conversations we'd have with each other during breakfast and the breaks, we'd be soaking up the knowledge from the five scheduled sessions on topics ranging from immigration and how it affects the LGBT community, labor issues, getting beyond Trans 101, and thinking internationally about LGBT issues.we were scheduled for.

I was seated next to Ileana Jimenez of Feminist Teacher and had some interesting conversations with her and the people surrounding me like Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner and EJ Graff of American Prospect until the first session got ready to start. 

After the welcome from Bil, at 9 AM as we ate breakfast, we dove right into to the first session moderated by Matt Foreman entitled LGBT Issues in the Age Of Immigration Reform.   The participants were via Skype Shuya Ohno of the National Immigration Forum, Bamby Salcedo from the Trans-Latina Coalition and Lavi Soloway
of The DOMA Project.  

When it was Bamby's turn to speak, she recounted her story about how she ended up in ICE detention days after she went to court to get her name legally changed and some of the horrific crap our trans Latina sisters deal with in that situation form being locked up with male detainees to verbal and sexual harassment and assault.

That ran until our 10:30 AM break followed by our second session of the day entitled Thinking Global: LGBT Action On International Issues moderated by Matthew Rose and presented by Andrew Park and Mark Bromley of the Council for Global Equality

It gave us a more accurate picture of what was happening with the Ugandan 'kill The gays' bill, where it was in the law making process, and the anti-LGBT sentiment being deliberately stirred up in Eastern Europe because the North American based anti-gay groups are losing the Culture war they started here and want victories to pint to for their funders.

It also touched on the looming battle over the World Health Organization review of its ICD manual that insurance companies use for their diagnostic coding info for billing purposes..

Lunch came along with a visit from Philadelphia mayor Michael A. Nutter.   Mayor Nutter took some time out of his schedule as Houston mayor Annise Parker did last year to address the group and ask that Philadelphia be considered for future LGBT Media convenings..

Once he concluded his remarks he took some time to answer questions concerning his political future, the Nizah Morris case and where SEPTA was on the TransPass gender marker issue.

I had a conversation moments later with Philadelphia Director of LGBT affairs Gloria Casarez about the SEPTA trans pass developments, the Nizah Morris case, the Kyra Cordova one and getting police departments to follow the AP Stylebook rules when they give press conferences in trans murder cases. 

A Generation On The Move LGBT Aging discussion moderated by Mark Segal was happening while I was having the conversation with Gloria.   I did get to witness the last 15 minutes of it before we moved on to another break at 2:25 and the Rod McCollum moderated one entitled Moving Beyond Trans 101  that featured Mara Keisling and Allyson Robinson of OutserveSLDN.

It talked about the lack of diversity in the trans leadership ranks and how integrated the 'T' community is with the rest of the LGBT community and other issues.  Rod also called on me, Rebecca, Jos, Kelli and Bamby for our commentary as well on this topic

Our final session of the afternoon was moderated by Adele Starr covered LGBT Workers and the Labor Movement and featured presentations by Shane Larson of the Communications Workers of America and Lauree Hayden of the Service Employees International Union

It talked about the ways that unions through their collective bargaining laid the groundwork for marriage equality and other issues before that fascinating discussion wrapped up at 5:10 PM..

After some photos, I was going to join the trans contingent for dinner, but while on my way to my room to get my coat ran into Jan Christensen, the new president of the NGLJA.  The conversation we started I got so engrossed in forgot I was supposed to be headed to dinner with the trans fam.

Sorry about that ladies.   Next time.

I did show up at the other event at the Tavern on Camac for an hour before heading back to the hotel, getting my Slurpee at the 7-Eleven on my way back to the hotel and packing for my return travel to Texas.

Since I had an 11:25 AM departure from PHL, was bummed I missed the 9:45 AM brunch and the tour of rainbow Philly and a last chance to spend some quality time with my fellow journalists.

But I did enjoy my first trip to this LGBT journalist convening, and hope I get the opportunity next year to meet with everyone again..   

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