In The Shadow Of Giants-The NAACP LGBT Reception

Since I have a trip to DC coming up in a few hours I was a little bummed due to last minute scrambling I missed the LGBT panel discussion.

But I was comfortable knowing that TPOCC’s Kylar Broadus was holding it down for the community and that panel has so much firepower on it I wasn’t really needed for this one.  

But I was definitely going to be there at the Hilton Americas Hotel for the LGBT reception that started at 5 PM CDT.

I barely had walked into the cavernous main lobby of the Hilton Americas when I was recognized by two people who had been in the room for the panel discussion at Netroots Nation. I stopped and talked to them for a few moments and headed to the elevators that would take me to the Skyline Room on the hotel’s 24th floor.

While I was waiting another woman rushed up to me, introduced herself and told me that she was a huge fan of TransGriot and had been following my blog and tweets for three years.  I thanked her for her loyalty before I stepped into the elevator.  

Once I arrived in the beautiful Skyline Room on the 24th floor of the hotel for the reception a few minutes after 5 PM I was greeted by Dee Dee Watters, one of my local transsisters and a few moments later by Daniel Williams from Equality TX.

Dee Dee, another NAACP delegate and I launched into a lively discussion about the Affordable Care Act, the Canadian universal healthcare system, the Medicare For All bill and the sorry state of the US healthcare system vis a vis other industrialized nations.

As people continued to arrive I spotted one of my activist mentors Mandy Carter sitting at the table next to me and struck up a conversation with her after welcoming her to my hometown.  We were soon joined by Nadine Smith, (one of the panelists) Kylar (who I’ve been playing phone tag with for the last three months), Daniel and his boss from Equality Texas.   The Texans at the table started talking about our Lone Star conservafool idiots after Mandy discussed what happened in the recent North Carolina marriage battle and we got our grub and drink on. 

We also discussed at the table after Kylar joined us the hot topic in the room, Mitt getting booed multiple times by the assembled and unrepentant NAACP masses.  (FYI, the TransGriot approves of the message to Mitt v. 2012)

As more people continued to arrive it had for me a ‘the activist gangs all here’ feel in terms of many of the people I last saw or met at the NBJC Out On the Hill conference being here for this event. Stacey Long from the Task Force was in the house along with Leslie Herod from the Gill Foundation, Leslye Huff as an NAACP delegate, Sharon Lettman-Hicks from NBJC, Donna Payne and other local Houston people, activists, convention delegates, and reps from various TBLG organizations.

Leslye is also on the planning committee for the 2014 Gay Games that are coming to Cleveland and we discussed how the preparation for that event were going for a few moments along with her impressions of my hometown and Mitt’s speech 

I also got a chance to chat with Eric Wingerter, the NAACP’s VP for Communications and New Media who I met at Netroots Nation 2012.  He told me he’d been one busy man since the convention started and had a few late nights and early riser days in keeping the new media side of the NAACP convention working seamlessly. 

A little after 6 PM Chairman Julian Bond stepped up to the mic along with Alice Hoffman to make some remarks to the now over 100 people in the room.  He talked about the recently concluded LGBT panel discussion, the road to making this event happen, and the recent affirmative NAACP marriage equality vote.

Alice Huffman during her remarks recounted what happened to her in California when she became one of the early NAACP leaders to support the marriage issue.   She talked about being spit on by a fellow African American who then went on the radio and exhorted people to resign their NAACP memberships.

She was proud of taking that stand, and was pleased to see what it has led to.  I took a moment to personally thank her later that evening and did the same with Chairman Bond, one of our civil rights icons that was in the room.

Chairman Bond also proclaimed this was a historic day of another sort in terms of cementing a permanent marriage between the NAACP and the Black LGBT community because of our interlocking interests, and he highlighted the ongoing fight against the odious voter suppression laws as one of the issue we have in common  

When Sharon Lettman-Hicks was asked to take the mic, she echoed the sentiments expressed by Ms. Huffman and Chairman Bond in terms of the long needed marriage between the African-American straight and African-American SGL/trans communities and eloquently added some comments of her own in terms of pointing out that the Black LGBT community needs the NAACP in our corner just as much as the NAACP needed us.  

Lettman-Hicks asked the LGBT people in the room to raise our hands and challenged us to become NAACP members if we weren’t already active in our local NAACP chapters.  She also challenged people to become NAACP life members as well. 

Stacey Long in her remarks pointed out that we still have some human rights fights yet to come before  yielding the mic to a rep from the Gill Foundation.  Donna Payne, who Chairman Bond acknowledged was instrumental in helping set up this year’s panel discussion and reception also spoke for a few moments before we returned to chatting with the people in that room with a wonderful view of downtown Houston,   Discovery Green, Minute maid Park and the George R Brown Convention Center.

With the remarks over and the clock creeping closer to the 7 PM end time for the event and knowing I had to go home, pack and write down my impressions of this event for you TransGriot readers, it was time for me to leave and head back to my undisclosed location on the south side of Houston.

But I still wish I could have witnessed the LGBT panel discussion.   That would have really made this an even better day than it already was.

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