To Create Change, We Must Live Openly, Authentically
January 31, 2014 by Rohmteen Mokhtari, Coordinator, Family Project
This weekend, over 4,000 people from across the country gather in Houston, Texas for the 26th annual Creating Change Conference, organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
This year is particularly meaningful for me as a native Houstonian. In the opening days, I am reminded that living honestly is an important part of creating change.
The most surprising moment was a conversation between three hotel employees I overheard as I was walking down the street.
"You know what conference this is, right? " one asked.
They didn't, so he told them it was about "power,” "rights" and “LGBT things”. Sensing his coworkers were still confused, he spelled out the acronym.
I'll admit that at this point I cringed a little fearing what wisecrack would come next.
But instead of a joke, he told a story. He said he used to be pretty ignorant about LGBT issues, but then he found out one of his wife's relatives is gay.
Getting to know this relative, he said, "has really opened up my eyes."
Another man in the group then told his own story about a gay family friend who was a dentist. When the man needed significant dental work, the dentist went above and beyond to make it as painless as possible. And then he only charged him $200 dollars. The dentist was, he concluded, one of the nicest people you could imagine.
It was a reminder of the power of simply living openly as LGBT people.
Mayor of Houston Annise Parker later reinforced this message.
Throughout her political career, Mayor Parker has not only provided a bold vision for the future of Houston, she's also been honest about who she is and whom she loves.
Earlier this month, the recently-reelected three-term mayor brought attention to the discrimination same-sex couples face in Texas, after she and her partner of 23 years traveled to California to marry.
But the most moving moment of the conference thus far was Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox.
Cox described the many injustices faced by trans women of color. She recognized the resilience of the community and the power of simply existing as a trans woman of color.
Above all, it is the power of living honestly and openly despite the discrimination, the violence, the transphobia, the racism and the sexism.
Inside the hotel, thousands of organizers are working to advance LGBT equality. Outside, millions more are advancing the cause simply by living openly and courageously.
Are you at Creating Change this weekend? Drop by the HRC booth and say "Hi!" to the team.
July 30, 2014