The LGBT State of the Union brought together local leaders of the city’s most active and well-respected organizations to engage in candid conversation. Perhaps more importantly, the large-scale community meeting, opened by Mayor Jim Kenney, got people off-line and interacting in person. That might be one of the reasons the event was a hit.
After the presentations, 35-minute breakout sessions with individual leaders took place, and the questions rolled forth.
To Mazzoni Center’s CEO: What are your plans to diversify director-level staff? What are you doing to correct the “toxic” relationship between staff and the executives? What actions is the board taking against staff members who made transphobic comments to other staffers? To the Elder Initiative: What is the purpose of holding a summit later this year in Harrisburg? To COLOURS: What are the concrete next steps you’re taking to move forward?
The SOTU provided a valve for questions long-swirling on social media to be addressed by people in a position to take action. Now that the leaders have answered, we may hold them accountable moving forward. The vision of the SOTU will hopefully lead to better communication between not only members of the community and their leaders, but among all of us. The COLOURS organization was recently the subject of an online campaign falsely asserting that its funding had run out and it was about to close. COLOURS is a small nonprofit serving the black LGBTQ community with HIV prevention and awareness measures. The fact that an unknown party would target an organization assisting vulnerable people is a sorry commentary on the state of our internal union.
The SOTU is a reminder of the value of transparency as a way to move the entire community forward.