It has taken me several days to unwind and reflect on a whirlwind week in Philadelphia. It was, as expected, a heady experience, and it was a privilege to have a front seat on the making of history.
I appreciate all those who read my reflections, and while I was not surprised that many said they were jealous and were living vicariously through me, that was not the reaction I was hoping to engender. Instead, as an Educator, I am always hoping to inspire others to step forward. On Wednesday night, President Obama admonished us in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, not to sit on the sidelines, but to be “In the Arena.” Since I first volunteered for a Mayoral campaign when I was 12, I have sought to be “In the Arena.” That is what I hope everyone will take away.
My hotel had a very nice view of the University of Pennsylvania (including Franklin Field). My first event after arriving was a LGBT Party at a club called Woody’s.
After I found my seat on the stage, my friend, Mara Keisling, managed to get this photo of me from her seat. I was sitting right in front of the California delegation, which included one of the loudest group of Sanders’ supporters. While I do appreciate their enthusiasm, I have to admit that I found them to be very disrespectful of many speakers. One of the key lessons of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley (1964-1965) is that while you have the right to free speech, you should exercise it responsibly.
At the first LGBT Caucus of the week, the Transgender Delegates awarded the first of two Jane Fee Awards to US Representative Mike Honda (California). Rep. Honda has a transgender granddaughter and is one of the strongest supporters of trans rights in Congress. Later, Tennessee delegate, and SEIU organizer, Freda Player, managed to photograph me from the perspective of the Tennessee section.
For the first time, I had an official speaking engagement during the DNC. I spoke at a luncheon co-sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign & Victory Fund. It was there that I had the opportunity to wish Sarah McBride good luck in advance of her historic speech the following night. One person named Jesse Aguilar also photographed me from behind while President Obama was on stage. Nancy Pelosi was sitting right in front of me at that moment.
The transgender caucus had our first ever meeting this morning. We were even greeted by another Member of Congress, Mark Takano (California) who joined us for an historic photo. Immediately afterwards, the trans caucus presented the second of the two Jane Fee Awards to Ray Buckley, Vice Chair of the DNC. At that same gathering, I had my second speaking engagement in just two days, when I joined Mara Keisling (Platform Committee) and Diego Sanchez (Credentials Committee) in speaking before the LGBT Caucus. Later, after arriving at Wells Fargo Center, the black trans caucus met for a photo op and unity sharing. Of course, one of the highlights was Sarah McBride’s historic speech. I was standing immediately in front of the stage. Finally, Susan Brown managed to save an incredible photo from the TV screen of me, surrounded by flags, while Hillary Clinton was delivering her acceptance speech.
The flight home was expected to be uneventful, but I ended up moving away from Ashley Judd to sit next to DCDP Chair Gary Bynum.
Again, I hope those who enjoyed my sharing of my experiences will step “In the Arena” in 2020. In fact, you do not have to wait until then. This election is now only about 96 days away. If you wish to be a delegate in four years, the first steps to be taken are immediately in front of you. There are plenty of pro-equality candidates from President on down who need your energy or money (if you can afford it).
As I stated, I started volunteering when I was 12. The choice is yours.
All photos/text from Facebook. Our thanks to Marisa Richmond for allowing us to share this information here.