Conference To Provide GLBTQ Community Aid
Janet Mock Leads Discussion On Empowering GLBTQ Members
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Former People.com staff editor Janet Mock paid a visit to the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition’s (HGBC) Youth Empowerment Conference on Saturday, Oct. 20 to tell her life story. Held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the conference focused on the current status of Massachusetts’s GLBTQ community and outlined several areas for improvement. The conference’s workshops concentrated on general life skills, political activism, health and wellness, and social justice. As the event’s keynote speaker, Mock addressed her audience in the most intimate manner by sharing her innermost fears and secrets, all in the context of her career as a writer.
Filled with details of hardship, witty comments, and humorous references to her status as a “child of Oprah,” Mock’s speech commanded the attention of the auditorium. A native of Hawaii, Mock was her parents’ firstborn son. As early as the age of six, she began to understand her gender confusion. “A year ago, I never thought I’d be standing in front of an audience like this and proclaiming my identity to the entire world,” she said as she began her address. Mock’s decision to “live visibly” as a transgendered woman is reflected in her work in the media as well as her communal activism. Believing that the media considers it taboo to focus on the transgendered population, Mock has launched severalprojects, including the Girls Like Us campaign and the writing of her autobiography - she has also been commended for her work with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, an organization dedicated to serving the New York GLBTQ community.
When asked to discuss her views on the importance of the GLBTQ community in the professional world, specifically journalism, Mock stated that, “Any good newsroom would want to promote diversity. Our world becomes more acquainted with each other through diversity and it is beneficial to reflect every kind of population.” Through her studies at the University of Hawaii and New York University, and her work for People’s Features section, Mock attained the skills necessary to be a leader in the current journalistic world. She displayed deep interest in the new movement taking place in which the GLBTQ community is creating its own media: “HGBC is embodying this new movement of self-reliance as it creates its own resources to reach out to young people at this intersection of sexuality and ethnicity,” she said. After leaving her position at People in July to work on her upcoming memoir, Mock has been traveling across the country, preaching her life story and plans for a more prosperous future. Her book, titled Fish Food, discusses her journey in the context of intersecting issues. Gender and sexuality are only two aspects of a person—Mock explores these topics within the entire realm of the human being.
Mock’s speech was a reflection of the purpose of the entire conference—to inspire self-awareness, love, and knowledge. Founded in 2009, HGBC is one of the few non-profit organizations in Boston that focus on the issue of intersectionality—HGBC recognizes the link between race and sexuality, and aims to promote healthy living through acceptance, education, and counseling. Some of the local organizations represented at the conference included DotWell, Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). DotWell discussed the work of its two centers, the Codman Square Health and the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, and its efforts to improve the financial and physical health of its members. ABCD also spoke about the components of a healthy person, but with an emphasis on the spiritual qualities of an individual. While most organizations present were more geared toward its individual members, GLAD represents the entire GLBTQ population as “New England’s leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.” HGBC managed to host a series of diverse groups, all working toward improving its members’ financial, physical, and legal wellbeing.
“Choosing to love me is the best gift I could give myself. Go forth without ever dimming your light,” Mock, filled with an almost tangible sense of self-assuredness, ended her speech. Her message of self-love is contingent on the ability to love others. She put forth the concept of taking care of “your own,” and referenced first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention: once you enter the door of opportunity, “You do not slam it shut behind you. No. You reach back.” Mock declared that we should never forget those we leave behind, because only as a community may people move forward.