Phil Reese

What Happened at the Journalist's 'Secret' Meeting in San Fran

Filed By Phil Reese | March 16, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, The Movement
Tags: Haas Jr Fund, immigration, LGBT youth, marriage, San Francisco convening, summit

Except it wasn't so secret. Along with other Bilerico contributors Bil Browning, Jerame Davis, Adam Bink, Joe Mirabella, and Karen Ocamb; I attended an LGBTQ journalist, editor and blogger summit in HJFT7_bigger.pngSan Francisco sponsored by the Haas Jr. Fund, an organization that promotes - among other goals - LGBTQ equality & community health and immigration reform.

Many of us "livetweeted" the event as it happened--I covered the event on my account @ReallyPhilReese throughout the day. Joe Mirabella was the first of the Bilerico contributors to get a reaction published. Now I'm curious to hear from those who were not there: those LGBTQ experts in immigration, marriage, youth homelessness, suicide, and family acceptance who want to join in on the conversation.

Over the course of the day, we were introduced to leaders of social justice organizations and services from across America to discuss the work they're doing and need bloggers' and journalists' assistance in promoting.

causa.JPGOrganizations like CAUSA in Oregon, an extremely LGBTQ+ immigration reform coalition in the Northwest. We were joined by Aeryca Steinbaum who described ways that CAUSA forged coalitions between LGBTQ leaders in Oregon and immigration groups in Oregon - a far cry from last year's disastrous encounter at the same conference with leadership from the National Immigration Forum. Go ahead and look at their home page right now - LGBT equality is a main heading. Awesome.

Aeryca shared stories about how LGBTQ-specific programming was blended into all training and programing at all levels in CAUSA, assuring the leadership in this very grassroots organization was highly competent in addressing the unique needs of queer asylum seekers, undocumented LGBTQ youngsters seeking to stay in the only country they know, and same-sex binational couples. CAUSA is doing some tremendous work that all immigration and LGBTQ advocacy groups could learn from.

We also heard from Carl Siciliano, the founder and Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center in New York City, who you may recall received $300,000 from the estate of Bea Arthur after her death in 2009 in order to further their work with homeless LGBTQ youth. Siciliano spoke of the tremendous need for more resources for queer homeless youth and the danger they are facing in the current New York state budget that may completely shut them down. I was shocked to learn there are only about 200 beds for homeless LGBTQ youth in the entire country. The situation faced by homeless LGBTQ youth is absolutely dire. Living on the streets is incredibly dangerous - Ali Forney, the Center's namesake, was murdered a decade ago, a fate shared by a countless number of homeless LGBT youth.

Ann Haas is the Director of Prevention Projects for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She provided some stark and alarming statistics on youth suicide and guided the journalists and bloggers in the room on vocabulary and messaging for respectfully and responsibly discussing suicide in the media. This portion was a tremendous resource for me, and I hope to discuss LGBTQ youth suicide a bit more on Bilerico in the coming weeks.

During our lunch time, Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights updated us on the various so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act' federal cases, as well as the oft-discussed Perry v Schwarzenegger Prop 8 federal case - including efforts to lift the injunction on Judge Walker's stay on enforcing Proposition 8 in California; this would result in the re-institution of marriage equality in California while the case slowly winds its way up to the Supreme Court. I would love to fill you in on our update, but I'd rather give you more in-depth information on SameSexSunday.

FAP_logo.JPGFinally, we heard from Jason Cianciotto, co-author of LGBT Youth in America's Schools, and Caitlin Ryan, the Director of the Family Acceptance Project, who both discussed efforts to improve the treatment of LGBT kids in the two places they spend most of their time - at school and at home. Caitlin brought the room to sobs when she shared with us an extremely moving video called "Always My Son" about the struggles of Ed & Elizabeth Plata, founders of The Place, an organization for parents coming to terms with accepting their LGBTQ child.

After the video finished (but before we were able to wipe our eyes) Caitlin introduced Ed & Elizabeth Plata who had been seated quietly in a back corner of the room. We were all truly moved by their story of accepting their gay son and becoming advocates for LGBTQ youth and their parents. You will be moved to after you see this video. Don't argue, just watch.

Attendees of the summit tweeted about the summit's content throughout the day using the hashtag #Haas11 to quote speakers, react to content and try to include those who wanted to be there but couldn't. I offered to take questions from folks who were not present and got some good questions about LGBTQ seniors, LGBTQ homeless youth and LGBTQ suicide prevention - all of which I asked from the guests there on behalf of my Twitter friends from across America.

What will the outcome be? The new media and journalism leaders of our movement have been caught up on some of the most pressing issues facing our community by those right on the front lines. Last year, when we convened in New York City to discuss immigration reform, LGBTQ bloggers were rarely ever covering LGBTQ immigration issues. Quickly after the summit last year, conversations changed. Conversations began right here on Bilerico.com about the need to create coalitions with the immigration reform community. Those conversations started happening on other blogs as well.

By the summer, many of the major organizations, like the Task Force and NCLR had come out strongly as partners in the Immigration Reform community, and many of the LGBTQ blogs carried the saga of trying to pass the DREAM Act among their posts throughout the summer and fall. Then this winter - despite defeat on the DREAM Act in December - we saw some aggressive action on LGBTQ-specific immigration issues based around the Department of Justice's shift on defending DOMA in federal court by both Immigration Equality (which announced they'd be pursuing a federal challenge of the law in the 1st or 2nd Circuit) and Masliah & Soloway's "Stop The Deportations" DOMA project.

So will the summit change conversations happening in our community this year as well? I'll be curious to read the reactions by some of the other attendees like Chris Geidner of MetroWeekly, Joe Jervis of JoeMyGod, Michael Rogers of RawStory, Jeremy Hooper of GoodAsYou, Chris Johnson of The Washington Blade, Daniel Villarreal of Queerty, Mark Segal of Philadelphia Gay News and Tracy Baim of The Windy City Times. You can see us all here.

I'm also curious about what you, our audience, thinks we need to say about these issues. Do you have experience working with youth who have been rejected by their families, or same-sex binational couples struggling to keep their families together? Have you ever been a homeless youth? What do bloggers need to know about your experience? How can we make connections for our public?

I'm eager to read the responses.


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Great. Now we're going to have to start using the secret decoder rings again, Phil. You gave away all the "secrets."

I get to work with the homeless youth that "age out" of many programs -- the 18 and older set. I also work with the homeless who aren't youth in that sense.

I get to work with immigrants who are new to the country that have met someone.

Then again, I deal in crisis points, and in a very specific slice of it that is historically overlooked (though nearly all these days have corrected that) by more broadly purposed organizations.

We need exposure. We need to be profiled by blogs, and not from our own in house generation. We need to be seen on news, and heard on the radio. We need to make people aware that yeah, we areout there, and yes, we need help.

We need free services. We need small dollar and large donations. We need people to stop saying things like "well, if they just got off their hind ends and got a job" or "they are all drug addicts and hookers after all, who cares".

We need people to realize that a person with a household income (all people in it) of more than 50K a year is in the top half of all income brackets on the country.

We need people to realize this is the impact of anti-LGBT crusades and parents who support bullying by saying nasty things about LGBT people.

If it is something that someone makes money doing, it is something they can spend time doing to help some organization.

I get a bit riled when I talk about this, lol, so I'll stop now lest I fall into old habits again.

I'm glad you guys had a good meeting, and all that secret stuff is just people who didn't pay any attention.

I mean, I knew about it and I wasn't invited this year.

Ahem. Bil. (j/k)


interesting post! while increased attention to issues related to immigration reform, sexual/gender identity is a welcome sign, the complete erosion/negligence of the political organizing, voices of LGBTQ immigrant, and in fact privileging voices of lawyers, US non-profits and bloggers in these kinds of reductionist pieces is dangerous. Paradigm shfits are happening because brown, black, and yellow migrant bodies are taking material risks to challenge the US based LGBT rights movement, and the hetronormative immigrant rights movement.

Please refrain from assuming that you (as a blogger)or US national non-profits
(Immigration Equality, NGLTF etal), and transnational immigrant rights formation are the sources of paradigm shifts. In fact such formations at times have thwarted the demands for autonomy, subject formation by LGBTQ immigrants themselves.

Wait - you're asking for these people to not think they're the center of the universe? The same people who took to every platform they had access to and pretended that a couple arrests in front of the White House is what got rid of DADT?

No, what got rid of DADT is me. Me, me, me, me! I blogged about it, and that's what did it! ;-)

I volunteered for a while at a high school that worked with LGBT youth. I know that Trans youth from Mexico specifically have a very difficult time surviving. In fact, one that I tried hard to help was murdered in 2004, and the murder was never solved. Someone needs to write of their very tragic stories.