A Seat at the Table: LGBT Activism and Bloody Marys

Congratulations to the Kansas City chapter of the Human Rights Campaign for a successful inaugural HRC Equality Brunch, held on Sunday, July 21. The gathering at the Roasterie’s Bean Hangar Event Space had a great turnout of over 150 people, including Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Missouri State Sen. Jolie Justus, Missouri House Rep. Judy Morgan and Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams.
Angela Cottrell of HRC said on the group’s blog: “The event provided a tremendous opportunity for our committee to branch out beyond the events we do on a year-to-year basis and broaden our scope for new membership. It was also important to celebrate the recent Supreme Court successes and to share what direction HRC is going as we progress forward.”
We need more events like this. They may not all need to be brunches, which can be quite costly for the organizers. But the opportunity to meet more people in our local political circles only helps to make the LGBT community stronger.
Recently, PROMO, our organization that fights for the rights of LGBT Missourians, closed its Kansas City office. A.J.Bockelman, executive director for PROMO, has said that the decision was not permanent and that they hope to have another field organizer in Kansas City as well as members from Kansas City on their executive board. The 11-member executive board now has no Kansas Citians; most are from St. Louis. We hope they follow through on that plan, but they can only do so if people step forward to serve in that capacity.
The Kansas Equality Coalition has chapters in 11 areas of Kansas. Sandra Meade, the chair and treasurer of the Kansas City chapter of KEC, was effective last week in having the talk show host Jerry Springer removed from an Aug. 3 production of 8, a play focused on marriage equality, at the Kauffman Center in Kansas City. When Meade found out they were bringing Springer in for this production, she led the way to protest the selection of a man who has ridiculed transgender people for years and said that if he was not removed, she would organize a boycott of the event.
In Meade’s letter to the organizer, Kansas City’s Padgett Productions, she wrote, “Kansas Equality Coalition’s mission statement is to ensure the dignity, safety, and legal equality of all Kansans. Jerry Springer has stripped much of the transgender community of their dignity, jeopardized their safety, and made it much harder to obtain their legal equality, thanks to the need to constantly battle the trope of them being deceitful predators that Jerry Springer has so gleefully championed for over 20 years on public television.”
They removed Springer and KEC removed their boycott.
At the HRC Equality Brunch, Sly James invited LGBT people to volunteer to serve on city commissions. Justus introduced her speech by describing how she decided to run for the Missouri State Senate more than seven years ago when approached by someone at a PROMO brunch at the former bar Natasha.
“Someone walked up to me and said, ‘You know what, there’s an open state Senate seat, and you’d be really good at that.” She joked that she had had a few bloody marys and responded, “Yeah, why not, I can do that.’
“And a few people said, ‘Bloody marys aside, you really should do this.’”
“So I was at a brunch, just like this, drinking bloody marys, and someone came up to me and convinced me to run for office. Someone here today has had enough bloody marys that they should run for office,” she said as she concluded her speech, to laughter and applause.
“There are so many opportunities to take a seat at the table because when we are in the room, they have to talk to us, not about us. That’s how we make changes.”

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