Watch Building Political Power: One Interview at a Time

by Kate Kendell, NCLR Executive Director | crossposted from the Bilerico Project

I’m back at my desk after four days in Dallas at the annual Creating Change conference organized by The Task Force. Every year I return re-energized and inspired. What I love most about Creating Change is the energy and vibe. There were over 2,500 folks this year and the crowd truly represents the full, vibrant, and fierce diversity of our community. Folks from all over the country, young and old, virtually every ethnic and religious identity, and a wide spectrum of abilities and backgrounds.

There is so much strength in our differences, and yet those differences also present critical opportunities and challenges. While at Creating Change it feels like our power and unity are unstoppable. But then we all go back home and, I fear too often, back into our familiar, silo-centered approaches to our work in this movement. I can’t help but think what a force we would be if we truly saw the strength in our difference, and built the kind of coalitions and cross-cultural political movement that to date we have only dreamed of.

Along these lines, one of the best things I did at Creating Change was interview some of the other conference attendees. Bilerico set me up in a corner and rolled the camera and this is what we got. Great little conversations with some really inspiring folks, now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Let’s hit the ground running this year and commit to making sure that creating change isn’t relegated to simply a catchy conference name.

As NCLR does its work in this coming year, my commitment is to always look for ways our core work can enhance and be enhanced by strategies and partnerships with new activists, other progressive organizations, and emerging and established leaders in the LGBT and allied movements.

During the federal trial on Prop 8 here in San Francisco, I was profoundly affected by the testimony of Gary Segura, an American politics professor at Stanford. Segura testified about political power: how you get it and what it is. He defined political power as the “ability of a group, on its own or with reliable allies, to achieve its goals.”

By this standard, it should be obvious that many communities, and certainly the LGBT community, lack political power. The plain fact is to get anything done we always need allies, and as we have recently seen, the reliability of those allies waxes and wanes with political winds. This fact makes it all the more urgent that we develop new tactics and strategies with other groups who have been stigmatized by the law and culture and that we join forces to consolidate our power and ability to win full equality for all.

I, like so many others, am tired of waiting and tired of being used as a political tool. Damn, enough already!

Jeff Sheng

It was just serendipity that right after Cathy, I spoke with Jeff Sheng. Both Cathy and Jeff understand the power of not only alliances, but of stories and Jeff’s photographic work tells, yes, 1,000 words.

Roxanne Anderson

The work that Roxanne Anderson does is at once about elevating the voices and visibility of queer artists of color and of telling the story of oppression unbounded by sexual orientation or race

Sara Beth Brooks

Newer and emerging activists are a true key to our future victories and to a model of cross-cultural collaboration. Many on these activists were never in the closet or spent very little time there, that path of always being out is profoundly different than the lived experience of many of us, there’s a lot there to pay attention to and learn from.

Jaan Williams

My Phil Donohue/Oprah Winfrey/Jimmy Kimmel moment ends with an interview with Jaan Williams about action on the federal level and a certain organization which shall remain nameless, for now.

So that’s it. And no, I won’t quit my day job. But it was fun and see what I mean about inspiring?? Now, let’s all go be, make, create change.

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