Saturday, December 06, 2008

LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Convention - Day 1

So let's say you're walking down the streets of Washington, DC, on a cold December day. Say that the 'Don't Walk' light is on and you don't dare jaywalk 'cause it's DC and not New York and jaywalkers really get caught. You look ahead and all you see are... a gaggle of LGBT bloggers and citizen journalists! Would you suddenly scream and run away? No?

Good! 'cause that's exactly what the denizens of DC got today.

The occasion was the 1st National LGBT Bloggers and Citizen Journalist Convention. I, the New Yorker, dared to jaywalk across before the light changes just to take the photo above! You are welcome!

The initiative was created by the DC-based blogger Michael Rogers (of PageOneQ and BlogActive) who got initial support from philanthropist Jonathan Lewis and sponsorships from the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Additional sponsors include Microsoft, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay Alliance Against Defamation, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association, Bolthouse Farms and the New Organizing Institute and Center for American Progress Action Fund which are hosting the two-day event.

A couple of highlights for me actually did not come from today's workshops /panel presentations but from a luncheon organized as part of the Victory Fund's annual conference to which Convention participants were also invited.

First was a moving tribute given by New York State Senator and former Councilmember Tom Duane to former Councilmember Phil Reed who passed away a few weeks back.

Tom, of course, was elected to the City Council in 1991 as the first openly gay and HIV+ councilmember while Phil followed his steps becoming the first African-American councilmember who was also gay and HIV+.

Phil had always been gracious to me on the times that I had the opportunity to see him at political events and elsewhere and though he had a certain prickly reputation I always found him to be funny, engaging and sweet - a true hero - and was tremendously sad when I heard about his passing although I knew that he had not been doing well.

Also during the Victory Fund lunch was a note key speech by Congressman Barney Frank who spoke eloquently about serving in politics as openly gay people.

In part, he was addressing a number of trainees of a Victory Fund program for individuals who might want to run for office in the future (to my surprise my friend Miguel Ayala was among them which meant I got to say hi to him for the first time in ages).

I took copious notes as Frank made comments regarding marriage, DOMA, ENDA, DADT, the hate crimes bill and President-elect Obama. But in true Frank spirit, the Congressman had a couple of bon-mots that had the audience laughing with his dry humor.

In challenging notions that blacks and Latinos were to blame for the passing of Prop. 8 in California, Frank said he was grateful to the leaders of the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucus who, according to him had "a better record than gay members in Congress." He let that sink in for a moment and then said "...not the open members such as Tammy [Baldwin] and myself." Purrum-pum!

And, addressing his prominence as the hair of the House Financial Services Committee during the current economic crisis: “If [an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes law] passes, you will still be able to call me a faggot. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re in the banking industry, however” [h/t Mombian for catching the complete quote].

As for the Convention, I already had met some of the participating bloggers in the past and it has been great to see them again but I was particularly happy to meet Rod McCullum of Rod2.0 and Ron Buckmire of The Mad Professah Lectures (at right with myself) I am also having a blast rooming with Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God who is out checking out the DC nightlife with Father Tony of the Farmboyz as I write but regaled me with some nasteee i-Tunes music tonight along with Broadway showtunes done to a disco-beat. Somehow Gloria Estefan made the cut as well. Then again he did live in Miami a while back.

Panels, we've got panels! Actually I was on one on "Diversity" which felt a little diffuse to me but seemed to go OK. I was on along with my friend Russell Roybal from the Task Force and the Reverend Irene Monroe from Bilerico and Autum Sandeen from Pam's House Blend.

There was also a main panel on Prop. 8 and a workshop on journalism.

I'll try to share a full list of participant bloggers and blogs tomorrow.

[Photo credits: All photos by myself except the last one courtesy of Joe.My.God]

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Bernie said...

I didn't hear a word about this event until I saw people mention it on Facebook, the day of. What was it, a secret?

Andrés Duque said...

Not a secret. The Blades did a story on it and a few people had been writing about it (Pam Spaulding for one) but I'm not sure there was $ to promote it better and I actually found out I was coming last week. I would have loved to see you here. I believe there'll be similar gatherings in the future. I'll keep you posted.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Great to see you again, Andres, albeit through the bags under my tired eyes. I'm getting too old for these kinds of weekends.