NetRoots Nation 2012 – Reporting From The LGBT Pre-Conference

Greetings from Providence. It is somewhat chilly here, but what a beautiful town. We are near the capitol building in a fancy, schmancy hotel with a great view and no vending machines (i know, i know.) After a 15 hour travel saga that was mostly uneventful thanks to Megabus, we made it here and spent ten hours today in the official LGBT Pre-Conference.

Over 100 leaders from the LGBTQ community turned out. Computer cables were everywhere – I brought a power strip so I quickly was adopted by Joe Jervis, Todd Heywood and company. Joe blogs at (highly suggest you check it out) and Todd is actively involved in tracking HIV policies (we had a good chat about the Corbett budget.) Its my kind of conference where I can tune in and out and no one admonishes me for using my laptop or my phone. Or both.

Both? Well, yes … twitter was very much part of the dialogue today. There’s a twitter list of attendees as well as the hashtag #nn12lgbt so I had both my phone and laptop open to track those lists and the multitude of replies to my own tweets. Plus, I hit the top of the pile on Early Returns so my blog traffic picked up a bit today. THEN there was breaking news involving Miss Pennsylvania. You can see how my multitasking skills were put to use.  And why I’m exhausted!

I was asked to participate in the morning’s opening session which was a table discussion of how we blog and why do it. I talked about the Pirates “It Gets Better” video and the response for a local LGBTQA youth filmed right at the stadium that night. Because she was rejecting the message, it might seem my advocacy was invalidated – but not so.  Her advocacy was a little twist on the Hegel thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

Highlights from the day

  • Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend spoke about building her audience. Lots of good practical tips. Pam is so honest about the toll blogging has taken on her health – I admire what’s she accomplished, but I admire more that she continues to live so authentically by sharing her health challenges and the erosion of some of her physical abilities in a way that illustrates her advocacy skills.


  • Meeting several “opposition research” professionals – I had no idea how prolific they are, but I’m now on their lists for anything PA related. It was actually poignant how they all said that we need to write about the hate they spew so when folks google for them, our pages will come up with facts. We need to showcase their inaccurate research.


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  • Blogging and posting on social media 7 days a week will increase your reach by 18% compared to those who do these things 5 days a week.  I’m pretty successful with this on Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve slacked on the blog.


  • Much division on marriage equality. Few argue its a good thing, but strategically and tactically — big gulf. Finding a way to bridge the issues and energize allies to advocate for ENDA as well as marriage equality as well as funding our eternal defense against “marriage amendments” are huge challenges that could not be resolved today.


  • A panel on immigration was very insightful especially the unabashedly undocumented queer folks who spoke out. This is a topic I’m going to explore in more detail – one of the presenters said we tend to define queer immigration issues as American married to European and gloss over the serious issues of undocumented workers and queer persons from other cultures for whom marriage is neither an option nor a solution.


  • Finally, a great session on health. It was difficult to hone in on “the” most serious issue because every subcommunity has unique issues – be it the increasing cases of HIV or low rates of lesbian gynecological care or informed trans health care – still someone did nicely summarize that extending health care to our entire community should in and of itself be a priority. I was also please that someone brought up the nasty issue of smoking and its impact on the LGBTQ folks.

A busy, busy day. I met up with folks that I’ve worked with long distance – Bilerico bloggers, and others who helped with the Pirates video and some of the great folks at GLAAD who are engaging more Pittsburgh media types.  There’s energy around organizing LGBTQ youth which is exciting. Also, met a great blogger from Seattle who is concerned about hunger justice (first time I’ve heard that phrase) so that caught me up in another part of my identity.

Other plans this week include a stint staffing the LGBTQ table in the exhibit hall (swag! tote bags!) as well as a session on a PA Caucus, twitter, more LGBT sessions and a panel on transit as a social justice issue. I’m also looking forward to the keynote speeches from Elizabeth Warren and Paul Krugman. Plus, there’s a party every night. I’m not much of a partier, but hopefully we’ll enjoy some good seafood and perhaps see a few sights.

It is pretty exciting to be here and I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. And who!




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