So as the new Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) entity birthed in part from the Couture Elements stable is rolled out softly with little fanfare the historic election process took place on July 27, 2011 at the Oasis Lounge with just under a hundred persons turning up and occupying every possible space and seating available leaving very little room for standing. All the present structured positions were filled and the candidates who have been on low keyed campaigning for the past two weeks made their cases as to why they should have been voted in by the eager and much younger audience which was refreshing to see and demonstrates hope for the future. I am proud to also have been apart of the initial conceptualization of this movement which is to add to the present structures though heavily criticised by myself and others but we must become the change we want to see.
Some 85% (my numbers after counting) of the total ballots were marked with one spoilage and 8 abstentions for respective positions which showed also a high level of interest and could be a sign of things to come in terms of how active these supporters maybe as the Underlined Response ages. Persons came prepared to participate and not to be mere spectators.
The Positions filled were:
Public Relations Officer
With the last three posts having one candidate each vying. All the presentations from the candidates were worthwhile listening generally speaking but seeing this was a new crop of advocates being groomed much room was allowed for mistakes, the shakes during their speeches and some over enthusiasm as they all tried valiantly to win their crowd, friends and neigh sayers alike. Obviously capacity building is of critical importance and as the audience fielded questions which mostly surrounded expectations and competencies, of concern was the fear of over intellectualizing and diversions from semantics with over puffed egos that existed in other jurisdictions and entities of a similar nature.
Co Founder SJ pointed out that the comradeliness was the strength of the entity, “the family setting is key” and that no divas or superstars will be tolerated in any way shape or form as it is about serving the community. She also stressed in an interview of sorts after the votes were tallied and the results announced that the thrust also is to work with other entities chief among them JFLAG but have them being accountable as well to the LGBT body politic.
It is indeed refreshing to see this younger set of persons fired up about advocacy and one of my own questions posed particularly to the President and Vice President candidates was that of engagement of other identities under the LGBT umbrella that do not necessarily socialize in a space such as the Oasis which caters to a more white collar audience but is mixed none the less. As in a robotic response the candidates pledged they were willing to engage the cohort but of course the real proof in my mind will come when the rubber meets the road as older experienced heads among the audience made it clear they will be close scrutiny so as to avoid the mistakes from the past and elsewhere. The personal sacrifice, the possibly loss of friends as one stands up for ones principles or beliefs were brought to the fore as possible expectations.
For the first few months the tightening of the roles and responsibilities are critical and with a constitution and by-laws in place other activities will be looked at squarely towards development. Several seminars and workshops are spearheaded to develop the skill sets of this young but vibrant board and a special advisory board is also being put together to act as a lightening rod to best practices and streamlining the activities.
As the results were read the cheers got louder especially for the Public Relations Officer race as the the popular vote landed with that “thuggy” lady. The most riveting speech for the evening’s proceedings came from Vice President candidate though diminutive in stature Miss Kitty K Crew who had her audience attuned to her plans and ideas she wanted to share with the board and the community on a whole for the better part of seven minutes, not a souls said a word as she delivered. The most decorated individual overall was the Presidential candidate Miss Kitty Kitty Powellas who among other things has held Executive Secretary and Presidential roles overseas in other non governmental and scholastic organizations and groups. It was pointed out however that non LGBT typed board level activities are a different kettle of fish than this one she now will oversee to which she responded in part that she will adapt to. Again we will see the results in the long run. Another riveting but short presentation came from the lone male Vice President candidate who spoke sans notes from the heart using his own personal struggles, his Christian faith and bisexuality while carefully projecting strength on how “out” he is.
With persons leaving the Oasis last evening to early this morning some say they were feeling a sense of newness, revived, refreshed and just at ease in a sense that some of the problems we see and hear of daily may just have another avenue available to them to move the community forward and to deal with lives interrupted.
In my closing remarks last evening I invited all to seriously consider this new move and that the work is not to be taken lightly, I also stressed the fact that the Underlined Response is not a replacement for other entities serving the LGBT community and must not be viewed as a competitor albeit some of us have very strong views about where we ought to go and the pace at which more organised and established groups should be, those criticisms will in no way cease due to this birthing but solutions can now be tested or used alongside the previous groups and individuals.
Other stalwarts who witnessed this were the fluffy M&Ms formerly of WomenforWomen, The Loft’s Management team, a certain longtimer and gentleman from the party scene and the hip crowd with a certain “DJ” as well.
More to come.
Becoming the change we want to see.
Peace and tolerance.