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Why You Don’t Want to Miss This Year’s OUT on the Hill Issue Advocacy Day

As an emerging politico, I have had the opportunity to participate in all three of the National Black Justice Coalition’s OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summits. I was a participant in NBJC’s inaugural OUT on the Hill in 2010; I came on board as a Senior Fellow in 2011 to help plan the 2nd OUT on the Hill; and as the NBJC Policy and Networks Associate, I am anxiously gearing up for this year’s 3rd annual OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit on September 19-22, 2012. 

NBJC’s Issue Advocacy Day is one of the most empowering moments of OUT on the Hill because it reminds us that we all have a role to play in “being the change that we wish to see in the world.” Issue Advocacy Day grants us the access and tools to educate and inform our elected officials during the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference about our unique challenges as gay and transgender African Americans. Arriving on Capitol Hill with over 100 Black LGBT activists, thought leaders, elected officials, faith leaders and youth sends the unapologetic message that “We are Black, too!”

Issue Advocacy Day is the opportunity to participate in social action on the national stage to demonstrate that all politics are local. For instance, the Safe Schools Improvement Act would significantly improve the educational atmosphere for LGBT students across the nation. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would send a clear message that no American should be fired for being gay or transgender. And the End Racial Profiling Act would curb the tide of racial profiling in the Black community and require law enforcement agencies to improve their practices policies in communities of color.

OUT on the Hill’s Issue Advocacy Day illustrates that Black LGBT Americans have enormous potential to make an important contribution to the LGBT equality movement. We represent an untapped community of tremendous talent and innovation. Issue Advocacy Day is our chance to directly engage Congressional offices on the issues that matter to us.

By empowering our community to share our personal stories and experiences of homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and anti-LGBT discrimination, we can build support for LGBT equality and push our movement forward.

I hope you will join me this year at NBJC’s 3rd annual OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit. I will see you on Capitol Hill! Let’s own our power together.

Early bird registration ends today! Register here.

-Rodney Nickens Jr., NBJC Policy and Networks Associate

Rodney Nickens Jr. is the Policy and Networks Associate at the National Black Justice Coalition and hails from Portsmouth, VA. Rodney holds a Master’s Degree in African-American Studies from UCLA and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of California, Merced. He is also an active member of NBJC’s Leadership Advisory Council, providing strategic insight on policy and issues affecting Black LGBT people.

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.