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Emerging Leaders Guide to Getting to OUT on the Hill on a Dime

Attending the National Black Justice Coalition’s OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit has been both an honor and a blessing. I left knowing who I was and who I wanted to be. I fell in love all over again with my Black LGBT family. As Emerging Leaders, we don’t always have the means to pay for conference costs such as registration fees, lodging, and meals. That didn’t stop me (and the ten Norfolk University students I recruited last year). And it shouldn’t stop you. Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming summit and six steps for you to attend OUT on the Hill at practically no expense.

On September 19-22, 2012, over 200 Black LGBT leaders and activists from across the country will once again gather in the nation's capital for the 3rd annual OUT on the Hill. Attendees will participate in an inspiring week of discussion, strategizing and organizing as well as educate congressional leaders and federal agencies about Black LGBT public policy concerns.

OUT on the Hill was a liberating experience for me and my colleagues. As African American LGBT and ally students, it is important for us to gain knowledge of not only the politics of the overall LGBT movement, but the strategies specifically dedicated to the experiences of people of color. OUT on the Hill provides opportunities for Emerging Leaders to network amongst each other, while providing a safe space for us as future leaders to hold conversations that will advance our community. The summit also allows Emerging Leaders to connect with powerful Black LGBT politicians, activists, creatives and more.

OUT on the Hill is an experience that will change your life as LGBT person of color and as an Emerging Leader at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) or majority institution. It is an experience worth fighting for. By the end of the journey you will be equipped with the tools necessary to own your power.

Six Steps to Gain OUT on the Hill Sponsorship from Your University

Point out the pluses. Conferences are typically events that University departments sponsor. The University gains “bragging rights” (they get to boast that their students attended special briefings at the White House and met with Members of Congress) and students return to the institution with a wealth of knowledge to share with the campus community. It’s a win-win all around.

Know your target. Seek out departments that are in need of knowledge on LGBT-inclusion. These include the Office of Student Life and Engagement, Provost Office, Women’s Center, Sociology Department, Gender and Women’s Studies Department and the Political Science Department. Maybe there has been an increase of reports of violence against LGBT students or a new women’s center recently opened. Take advantage of these opportunities to be a resource for information and cultural sensitivity.

Be relatable. Connect your experiences as an LGBT person to their broader research or mission. For example, approach the School of Education with an emphasis on bullying and how LGBT students of color are disproportionately victims. Or stress the importance of advocating on behalf of homeless LGBT youth to the School of Social Work. The possibilities are endless.

Identify allies. Speak to Deans and other administrators who will have access to funds that could possibly promote awareness of these causes. Look to faculty advisors of student groups and professors of LGBT-inclusive courses.

Be a champion of change. Know what you and/or your student organization want to accomplish on and off campus. Then market yourselves as ambassadors of change and diversity for your University.

Be prepared. Utilize resources and statistics on everything from hate crimes to transgender equality from national organizations such as the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the Gay & Lesbian Student Education Network (GLSEN). You will be able to make a better case for why your presence at OUT on the Hill is imperative.

See you at OUT on the Hill, September 19-22, 2012. Read more about this year’s summit here! Contact NBJC’s Programs Associate Je-Shawna Wholley via email at with any questions.

– Antonio “Toni-Michelle” Williams

Antonio “Toni-Michelle” Williams studies Journalism at Norfolk State University and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Her most significant leadership position is as President of LEGASI, which serves as NSU's Gay-Straight Alliance organization. Under her two year leadership, the organization's membership has significantly increased. Toni-Michelle is also a distinguished member of the National Black Justice Coalition’s Leadership Advisory Council.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.