HRC Equality Convention 2017: It’s Not Equality Without Inclusion

Post submitted by Bruce Easop

Going into the 2017 HRC Equality Convention earlier this month, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The Equality Convention is HRC’s largest yearly gathering of volunteer leaders designed to bring volunteers together for planning, training, and sharing best practices. I started volunteering for HRC a few months so this was my first Equality Convention. In the midst of a political moment marked by a heightened sense of urgency, I found myself wondering what messages we would hear, what priorities would be emphasized, and how they would address the need for inclusivity within a more expansive LGBTQ equality movement.

Primed with these questions, I came away with the powerful message that we must fight for full equality for every single member of our community no matter their race, gender, religion, ability or national origin. Throughout the weekend, I found myself reassured that HRC is committed to working in partnership with our many allies at the forefront of the fight for a full and inclusive equality.

This work of coalition building is central to the fight for equality because those coalitions are embedded within every community, including our own. In a seminal paper coining the term intersectionality, legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw said, “the organized identity groups in which we find ourselves are in fact…potential coalitions waiting to be formed.” Our movement is not complete until we embrace those at the intersections. We will not be made whole until we unite our fractured coalitions. Without this work, we are failing to harness our full potential; we are leaving power on the table; and we are not truly fighting for full equality.

Too often in our nation’s history, the voices demanding intersectional approaches to equality have been marginalized. Now, more than ever, we must recognize that these struggles are our struggles and our liberation is bound together. Now we must put this into practice.

To do so requires admitting fault, committing to listen, building trust, exhibiting humility, learning when to lead or follow, and most importantly showing up. It’s not enough to simply listen to the voices calling for inclusion; we must make space for those voices to lead within our movements. The burden is on those with the most power and privilege, and we must do the work to make that possible. Only then can we achieve full equality for the LGBTQ community.

Full equality is not only a step in the journey; it is the journey, every step of the way. HRC demonstrated that the organization is committed to this fight and more importantly, so are we, the people on the ground fighting the fight every day and in every way. We will not rest until we achieve the most fundamental phrase of HRC’s mission statement: equality for all. I’m proud to stand with HRC on this journey. Now let’s get back to work.