By Alfredo D. Smith
National Black Justice Coalition
As I watched the trees go by on the road home to Detroit, I took in the beautiful scenery and began to reflect on my experiences during the Sixth Annual “Out On The Hill (OOTH) LGBT Leadership Summit” in Washington D.C. OOTH is a unique event hosted by the National Black Justice Coalition. The theme for OOTH was, “We Are Family: Building Stronger Roots Together,” with a focus on strengthening the health and wellness of the black LGBTQ community.
Throughout the summit, workshops were held that focused on the physical, social, emotional, financial and spiritual aspects of wellness. The host opened the summit by putting into perspective the intersection of wellness and our fight for social justice. “This is a whole person mission,” stated NBJC’s executive director and chief executive officer, Sharon Lettman-Hicks. As an activist and advocate for social justice, my goals for attending OOTH were to do three things:
– Gain knowledge of the issues within the black LGBTQ community on a national level
– Gain new skills that would empower me in the fight for social justice
– Build community.
During a session, “The Equality Act: The next frontier for the LGBT movement,” I learned about the Equality Act from an expert with the Human Rights Campaign. I learned how the passing of this act will force states to create legislation that will not only end discrimination against the LGBT community, but many marginalized people.
Surprisingly, the workshop that made the most impact to me was not one that would help my profession life, but my personal life. The workshop was titled, “Same sex, Different Everything Else,” where I learned the importance self-care. It was facilitated by an amazing woman named Angie Harvey who said, “You don’t go from work to home. You go from work to work. If you don’t work on home, it won’t work.”
Needless to say, all of my goals were met. I left OOTH full of knowledge, new skill sets, culture and a host of new brothers and sisters. As I travel on this journey home, I smile as I realize that from my experience I leave Washington D.C. and return to Detroit a better advocate, a better activist, a better man.