HRC Equality Bus Arrives in Birmingham
October 21, 2011 by Admin
This post is by Zack Hasychak, Community Events Manager at HRC.
A big hello from Magic City! This morning, we held our last Open House in Alabama, here at the University of Alabama Birmingham - tons of local community members came by to see the exhibit and hear about our work across America promoting justice and fairness for all. In addition to HRC, several other local groups were present to inform students of the many LGBT resources in their community, including Greater Birmingham Ministries, PFLAG Birmingham and the Gay Straight Student Alliance at UAB. Today was the second day we've partnered with our good friends at the NOH8 Campaign to create an LGBT street fair that engaged students, faculty and members of the community at large with our work.
I spent a good bit of my day talking to members of the GSSA at UAB, learning about the important work they've done to make their university a more welcoming place. After being told "no" repeatedly and having to jump over quite a few barriers, the group was successful in persuading the administration to implement a sexual orientation- and gender identity-inclusive non-discrimination policy on campus - no easy task here in one of America's reddest states. When I told them how proud they should be, they all, in unison, told me, "We are," with huge smiles on their face. It was a touching moment to witness these young activists bask in their accomplishments.
Today's crowd was as large as it was diverse - walking through the HRC exhibits and looking around, you saw people of every race and ethnicity, age bracket and sexual and gender identity. I got to spend a few minutes with Mystique Divine, a local drag queen who has been living in Birmingham for the last 20 years, and came by to have a NOH8 photo taken and to purchase one of HRC's signature "Born This Way" t-shirts. "I've been in Birmingham for years, and I can't remember a time when the community gathered like this," she told me, "It's great that HRC brought together so many community organizations to really show students the plethora of resources they have available to them here in Birmingham," she went on to say.
In a place as conservative as Alabama, opportunities for LGBT events like this don't come around very often. Everyone I spoke with today had great things to say about HRC's time in the state, and thanked us tremendously for including Alabama in our tour.
Tonight we'll be at Al's on Seventh hosting a fundraiser for our partners at Equality Alabama, and tomorrow morning we'll be presenting a panel discussion on the intersection of faith, family and acceptance - a very important message here in the Bible Belt!
Stay tuned for more updates from Alabama before we roll on to the Sunshine State.
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