A couple of weeks ago I shared with you that I had been asked to speak at Northwestern University’s “Over the Rainbow” conference, an LGBTQ gathering that was to tackle issues facing the community and more specifically, the youth. After weeks of excitement, preparation, and shopping as well as a cross-country flight, I was ready.
As you may know, I am originally from The Windy City and was living there when I first started blogging, so it worked out well that I was asked to speak at NU (located in Evanston, directly north of Chicago). My best friend still lives and works out there (downtown to boot), so I was able to stay with him during my trip. When I say best friend, that is probably an understatement, because he is galaxies ahead of that title, as you will find out by the end of this post.
Though my keynote speech was scheduled to close out the conference, I wanted to attend the entire thing.
My buddy rented a car for the day (and yes, we avoided the NATO madness ) and went to pick it up just as I was finishing transforming myself from ordinary guy to gorgeous lady. I headed downstairs and we headed up to the campus. Once there, my student contact (who was awesome during the whole process of coordinating everything) met us in the parking lot and we walked to the building where the festivities were being held. Mind you, I was walking in 4 1/2 inch heels and this was my very first time en femme out in public during daytime. (I had been previously only out at conferences)
Though we arrived a little late, Kris De La Rash (poet and LGBT activist) was still performing. She was superb, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet her as she left early. After she was done, there were some workshops to attend and I chose to go to “Microaggressions” and “LGBT characters in the media”. Once these concluded, it was my time to speak.
Because I have a couple of years of performing live comedy (stand-up and improv), I knew more or less what I was in for. With comedy, you live and die on the laughs that the audience gives you and it can be very nerve wracking. By comparison, public speaking is much much easier. Armed with some index cards to guide me (picked up by my friend) and the eagerness to share my story while relating to a group of LGBT students going through the same issues that I have gone through, I began.
It couldn’t have gone better. They were attentive and they laughed and enjoyed it when I capped off my performance with a couple of my YouTube videos. I was treated to a resounding round of applause and presented with a Project ShoutOUT t-shirt (the student organization that put on the event). After I was done, many of them came up to me to talk and ask questions about various things. Another student interviewed me for a journalism project.
We stayed for the dinner that followed and I enjoyed a small sandwich, some pasta, and a couple of falafels. Even during the dinner, many attendees came up to me to chat. As things were wrapping up, the members of Project ShoutOUT took a couple pictures with me, I will share them once they are sent to me.
This whole thing was an incredible experience and I appreciate you sharing in this moment with me. I currently have more appearances in the works and I am looking forward to sharing my story more and helping to give more positive exposure to our community as a whole. Three years ago when I started this blog one of my goals was to go around speaking about all of this. I am proud to say that this is finally coming to fruition. Stay tuned .
Here is a quick article about the conference, they talk about me toward the end.
You can check out the video of this as well here. (posting in a couple of days)