Reporting Live from Netroots Nation 2011

Dan and I are lucky to be attending Netroots Nation 2011 (#NN11) this week, especially the LGBT pre-convention all day today, organized by the illustrious Mike Rogers. NN11 is the in its sixth year and has grown geometrically to the several thousand bloggers and citizen journalists converging on the Minneapolis Convention Center right now. The LGBT pre-convention is fabulous so far because it is entirely hands-on and focused on affecting change. We will try to post transcripts and videos that have been promised.

This morning, the 100+ LGBT bloggers and organizations/organizers worked as a group to raise the on-the-ground issues that most concerned us, how they were being covered, and what support is needed. This session was exhaustive, exhausting, and exhilirating all at the same time, and this spirit continued throughout the day.

Next we brainstormed strategies in small groups to end gaps in the LGBT movement and answering how we can engage more effectively across generations, race/ethnicity, faith/non-faith, and, overall, how we can ensure that the LGBT blogosphere is strong and well-funded.

This afternoon, we broke into two very informative groups. One was about utilizing blogging, social media, and online activism to effect change and offered a future where LGBT organizations would offer breaking news as an exclusive; sponsor fellowships to reliable bloggers; and, as a group establish an endowment or permanent fund to be used to support bloggers financially (for example, sponsoring travel to events). This was prefaced by a brief presentation by Eden James on behalf of change.org which has resources for individuals/bloggers to carry out successful campaigns. Check out change.org, an amazing resource for bloggers/activists as recently shown when truthwinsout.org collaborated with change.org to successfully petition Apple and get them to drop an app for reparative therapy on the grounds that it is an entirely discredited practice to “cure” the gay.

Next up was a rather heart-wrenching panel of young immigrants, most of whom have come out as LGBT and come out as undocumented, whose personal stories disclose the important intersections and overlap of both struggles, namely the DREAM Act and the Uniting American Families Act.

We wrapped up with a fishbowl panel (audience participants rotating in to make a point or ask a question) answering, “How can (same-sex) marriage strategically help us get closer to full federal equality?” And, “What other equality opportunities does (same-sex) marriage open up to us?” Is this the galvanizing issue because “that’s where the money is?” Does this disenfranchise others with more life-and-death issues they care about such as LGBT homeless youth? Transgender equality? Immigration equality? Won’t marriage equality become a chief pillar for diminishing discrimination overall? What do you think?

At the end of the program we joined with a parallel pre-convention, Labor Netroots Connect, meant to strengthen the existing alliance between Labor and LGBT rights, over cocktails.

When it comes to economic and social justice, it was made clear yet again that all of the issues discussed today are connected. Until there is true pluralism, full personal sovereignty for each person, we have to continue fighting them together on all fronts.

Last, we are especially happy to welcome this week Jos Truitt of feministing.com, who plans to cross-post her impressions and ideas here throughout the week. Thank you, Jos!

VenusPlusX helped sponsor today’s event, along with National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Victory Fund, Servicemembers United, AlterNet, The Raw Story, Gill Foundation, Freedom to Marry, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and Evelyn & Walter Haas Fund, providing dozens of scholarships to deserving young bloggers.

Tomorrow the rest of Netroots Nation programs begin and we will continue to report out items of interest.

— Alison

P.S. We brought along beautiful commemorative posters for Netroots. If you’d like to receive one by mail, just send your snail mail address to columbia@venusplusx.org.

 

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner is co-founder of VenusPlusX, and writes frequently on global sexual freedom, American fundamentalists exporting hate and homophobia, and grassroots activism.
Alison Gardner