The 2012 LGBT leadership conference held in Long Beach, California from November 29 to December 2, 2012 was truly an amazing experience. Hosted by the Victory Institute, the conference’s main focus was to gather LGBT leaders running for a political seat whether nationally or state-wide and those working in corporate America, community organization and advocacy from across the US and internationally. The conference brought together over 500 attendees from all strata of society, from all ethnic, religious, and culture backgrounds to share an exhilarating experience filled with networking, skills building and training.
As an international attendee and invited speaker, I had the opportunity to share a dynamic plenary panel discussion with some of the world’s most courageous leaders, who faced various forms of stigma and discrimination on their journey toward political success. I had the pleasure to present on a panel with the US Ambassador to New Zealand and the Independent state of Samoa David Huebner, Judge of the Industrial court in Kenya Monica Mbaru, director of GLEN- (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network”) Brian Sheehan and Tatiana Laverde the first transgender woman in Columbia to hold a public office as Corporate Management and Human Resource Director at the Department of Social Welfare in Bogota Columbia. The discussion entitled “Global LGBT Equality: From Stigma to Strength” provided a prefect platform for us share our individual challenges and highlight how similar each are despite living in different regions of the world. I was motivated by Ambassador Huebner and Judge Mbaru bravery and inspiring words “to fully accept who I am and never deny myself in the process of achieving my goals.” Subsequent to the panel discussion I had the opportunity to chat with several local and international leaders on how best to lobby government and elected officials to review oppressive laws that negatively can affect the LGBT community as a LGBT advocate living in a violent homophobic.
Prior to attending the conference, I was informed that my attendance will be noted as an international LGBT advocate; however upon arrival I noticed that my work here at Out & Equal had been mentioned a few times, and had been attached to my conference status. This move by Victory Institute worked in my favor as not only did I meet with a member of the Out & Equal People of Color Advisory Committee board member: Earl Fowlkes, I had the privilege to discuss the 2012 Summit with a few attendees and promote our 2013 Summit in Minneapolis. I also received several positive feedbacks from attendees commending Out & Equal for the work they are doing and the move to accept, mentor and train an international LGBT advocate.
The Conference was a prefect hub for networking and as such, I took the opportunity to discuss my previous work and what we do here at Out & Equal. Following up on a few of my many conversations, Earl Fowlkes recommitted his time and effort to work with the POC advisory group and Estaban Paulon, president of Fedracion Argentina LGBT expressed his interest in having a representative from Out & Equal attend a regional LGBT conference to held in Argentina in 2013 focused on the LGBT community and the business sector.