Today is my last day in Philadelphia for #LGBTMedia15, the convening of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender journalists and media folks from 23 states, and one from Nigeria!
Today the gang enjoyed a private tour of the Free Library of Pennsylvania after one last brunch. My flight home is in four hours and I’m packing up, not just my clothes… but my memories and what I have learned that I did not know. Here are ten:
- The struggle of bisexuals for acceptance. That 70% of bi folks are women. That they are too often lumped-in with gays and lesbians because people don’t “get” them or judge them or don’t want to know what it is that makes them happy.
- The fear of HIV hasn’t truly gone away and how modern medicine has made advances that in the 1980s would be the equivalent to the discovery of penicillin but because of fear and association with “the gay disease” the mainstream media and famous names keep their distance from hailing this breakthrough. It is keeping people alive who would have died, like my uncle did. Like my cousin did.
- That LGB journalists are as interested and motivated to fight for transgender civil rights as my trans brothers and sisters are. They understand — or want to understand better — our struggle, that we need their support and that we need it now.
- I was able to meet, hug and get to know many of the wonderful people whose names I’ve seen online, and for them to get to know me a little, too.
- That a transgender woman with an incredible platform to educate our society has given aid and comfort to those who would want trans kids excluded from sports activities and deny every trans man and trans woman the right to use the bathroom of their true gender. It’s abominable what she has done and an apology is not sufficient; she simply needs to stop talking about things she doesn’t understand.
- How awesome my friend Brynn Tannehill truly is. I’ve admired her for years and got to see her in action in person at this event. She’s the whole package, folks: smart, sassy, cute, well-spoken and passionate about civil liberties, the trans community, her family and her comrades who serve and have served our nation. And she’s a scholar of all things Hogwarts, Game of Thrones and the dwellers of Middle Earth.
- The generosity of people like Bil Browning, Jen Christiansen and Adam Pawlus, and their amazing ability to listen, to help, to encourage and facilitate our work.
- Diversity is not the right word to describe our assemblage: a salmagundi of smart, sensitive downright sexy people. We have had divergent experiences but share a single goal. I think instead of diversity I will start to use the word multiversity.
- I learned a lot about Philly’s history of LGBT advocacy and met some of the most treasured members of our community: our elders, who we need to not only salute but save from poverty and homelessness.
- And I also heard some very sad stories from those I was blessed to meet here, about work, love, life and their struggles to survive in a world that rejects them.Edit
I leave Philadelphia energized to make a difference.
I am empowered. I am strengthened. I am motivated.
I’m also hungry, and just got an invite to lunch, so bye for now!
Oh — before I go: please do me one favor, dear readers: be nice to someone today, even if they don’t deserve it.