Black LGBTQ Coalition 2017 Conference Recap

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, a much needed conversation took place. Funded through a grant from San Diego LGBT Pride, the San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition 2017 Conference, “Claiming Your Seat at the Table,” brought together an audience of Black attendees, who identify as “LGBTQ”, from all ages, walks of life, and experiences. The inaugural conference was held at The World Beat Cultural Center in Balboa Park, a non-profit space which celebrates Black history and achievement.

Opening with a panel of five individuals with experience navigating the field of advocacy, the conversation dived right into how Black LGBTQ women and men identify, claim and maintain access to the “tables of decision”, at which the policies that impact their lives are discussed and decided. Panelists included: India Pierce (QTPOC Colectivo), Pastor Cecilia Caldwell (Unity Fellowship), Tinesia Conwright (Detour Empowers), Dwayne Crenshaw (RISE San Diego), and Dion Brown (San Diego Human Relations Commission). The panel was moderated by Ian Morton, acting Chair of the San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition. Each spoke of their individual journeys, citing barriers experienced, successes achieved, and the ingenuity employed to build their own movements when none encapsulated their mission.

“This event was a beautiful example of the San Diego Black LGBTQ community coming together to support and lift itself up. The Coalition worked diligently to assure the conference’s mission and program were aligned to address a need in our community. Designed for us and by us, we reached within our ranks to discuss the development, importance, and principles of leadership from our unique perspectives. It was truly ‘a seat at the table’ you would not have wanted to miss!” – Dion Brown

The opening panel event was followed by an hour-long facilitated discussion, during which groups of six to eight attendees determined how they could apply the information, experience and advice presented to their own individual journeys. Reporting back to the larger group afterward, participants brought their comments back to the conversation, pledging to increase their vocal and visible presence, actively accepting and providing accountability to their Black LGBTQ brothers and sisters and engaging in stronger outreach tactics.

“I feel so honored to have been able to hold space to hear the voices and concerns of San Diego’s Black LGBTQ community. Not only did the event provide people with an opportunity to speak their truth, it was a much needed opportunity for a community of Black LGBTQ people to get together and center their experiences…a rare opportunity in San Diego.”  – India Pierce

“My hope is that this event will kick off a multi-year conversation, during which we will define and implement strategies to support and mentor members of the Black LGBTQ community to assume leadership roles. As was brought up through our conversations, there is often a very small pool of Black LGBTQ folks who are identified as ‘leaders.’ They are too often asked to sit on many boards, committees and coalitions. Such demand on these folks siphons their energy until exhaustion ensues, leaving no ‘redundancy’ to fill the vacuum when they inevitably burn out. The Coalition’s work should help to build a larger pool of Black LGBTQ folks eager, willing, and able to serve.” – Ian Morton

After the attendees regrouped, the formal portion of the event closed with the floor being opened to thoughtful comments, questions and answers. A fun time was had by all, as attendees networked with each other while they played “Human Bingo” with prizes furnished by Sony, donated by San Diego LGBT Pride.  The event then progressed to a “family-style” catered meal, with soulful upbeat music provided by our community’s very own, DJ Teal, during which attendees had a chance to decompress and relax!

Untitled design (1)

About Alex Villafuerte

Alex Villafuerte is San Diego Pride's Marketing & Communication Manager. He oversees the marketing for all of Pride's events & programs. Outside of Pride, he has a love for the outdoors, the San Diego brew scene, and naps.