I was invited to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands last Wednesday as an HIV advocate and stakeholder of the LGBT community, and also as a representative of Team magazine, for the LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s IDAHOT event. IDAHOT stands for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
I was running back-and-forth that whole day between meetings and had another one to attend to right after but it was great being surrounded by industry leaders, representatives from big corporations, prominent members of the LGBT community, and the media to recognize the importance of diversity in the workplace.
There was a panel by three prominent LGBT members in the workforce who shared their personal accounts about being a member of the community in the corporate setting and their stories, as well as the question and answer segment after their talks, brought up a lot of issues that are currently existing in the corporate world. At the same time, it highlighted the importance of diversity in all industries and how beneficial it is to the world of big business.
This is my third or fourth formal LGBT event that was sponsored by an embassy. The first two was sponsored by the US Embassy and I always sort of feel out of place in these events because I consider my position in the LGBT advocacy to be so small. But I feel so fortunate to have been recognized and to get invited to such events because being around all these people and listening to all the talks pushes me to do more.
I was late to the game for fighting for LGBT rights. I always felt that it was not my fight because I never had to struggle expressing myself the way others have had. I felt like I’d be such a hollow advocate because I have never experienced discrimination or stigma for being gay. I have had it easy and because of that, I felt that my words would seem empty or shallow. This was not my fight, I thought.
But over the years I discovered that it is my fight. That what I’ve experienced growing up and until this day should be experienced by everybody in the community. I have to be there side-by-side with the community and just because I didn’t suffer the way so many people have doesn’t make my voice any less valid when I use it to support the cause.
I’m a still a fledgling advocate of LGBT rights and equality for all. I’m still learning. I still have so much de-programming to do and internal biases to figure out but I’m aware now and I’m exposing myself more and more to the discussions and learning so that when I get to use my voice, I get to use it right and use it well.
I’m a filmmaker, though, and I believe in the power of films in this day and age to impart of values and to bring to light issues and ask important questions. LGBTQ representation in film and other forms of media is an avenue that I’m best suited in at the moment and it’s the one route that I feel most comfortable in. Creating and producing more content — be it film, web series, articles, poetry, fiction — to help voice LGBT concerns and expand the narratives of the community is where I feel I’ll do the most good.
The best way to counter homophobia and transphobia and biphobia is to creates more connections with the opposition by telling our stories and getting our voices hear. That’s a solid, definite goal now for me. We are human. We are people. They need to see that. And as a media practitioner and content creator, that’s my specialty, and that’s what I’m going to do.