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Minorities come together at LGBT summit
by Blair Mishleau
2009-12-01

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High above the city, Chicago twinkled below as soft lighting and light music gave ambience to the room.

On Nov. 3, more than 50 leaders within the LGBT minority community mingled with each other, discussing everything from how to bring the community together to how significant cultural barriers can be.

The opening reception for the summit, which occurred the following day, was a concentration of some of the Black and Latino communities' best-known LGBT activists. The International Federation of Black Prides, Inc. ( IFBP ) presented the summit, while Chicago Windy City Black LGBT/SGL Pride, Orgullo en Accion and the LGBT Leadership Initiative co-sponsored the event.

"In a nutshell we're trying to mobilize black and browns to come together. If we mobilize, we can get a lot done. We can have a larger voice in the LGBT movement," said Carolina Alcoser Ramos, one of the organizers of the summit.

One of the groups to present at the reception was I2I ( Invisible to Invincible ) . The group advocates Asian/Pacific Islander LGBT pride.

"We don't have a strong enough voice within the LGBT community. The different oppressions LGBT people of color face haven't been covered," said I2I co-facilitator Elisa Armea.

"We knew it would be important to bring [ the two organizations ] together. A lot of the time they're not in the same room at the same time discussing the same thing. We put our resources together," said IFBP Chair Michael Hinson. "This room is full of leaders: African-American, Asian, Latino, men, women, trans, young and old. These people have a voice."

A big discussion point of the reception was breaking down walls and creating one unified voice.

"We can't do it as a divided community. We're not divided in the bedroom, but when it comes to politics and power we often makes conclusions or follow and agenda without ensuring the priorities of everyone as part of our plan," said Steve Wakefield, associate director of community education and relations for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.


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