With the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club special meeting and election controversy over and the slate originally elected on Dec. 3 officially reaffirmed as the winners, the club can move to the work it is destined to do — advocate for the LGBT community of D.C.
Although the special meeting and the challenges brought forth may have raised a few eyebrows in the community and seemingly split the club into two factions, its mission was accomplished. Allowing members the opportunity to question, challenge, gain clarification and in some cases vent, the meeting was democracy in action at its best and much needed to help the club move forward.
After all, the club is a democratic organization that thrives on democratic principles. The special meeting allowed members to participate in a democratic process and gain clarity on a number of issues that raised flags of concerns. I am sure that this will ultimately lead to a revision of the club’s bylaws, which will only help to allow the club to carry out its mission more effectively.
Additionally, the new leadership certainly has brought a lot of positive energy into the group by taking a page out of President Obama’s book and organizing to bring in a diverse group of new members who are “fired up and ready to go!” If you combine this energy with the renewed energy of the club’s existing members, 2013 and beyond is sure to bring great things for the LGBT community in Washington, D.C.
However, there is still a giant elephant in the room – the need of the new leadership to win those over who still doubt their leadership ability. No one is denying that winning over the doubters will not be an easy task. Yet, the challenges that the new leadership will face should not be used as a method of attack before they have had ample time to prove themselves. Countless organizations have had changes in leadership that may have caused a riff in the membership, but they have banned together for the good of the organization and its mission.
The Stein Club members and the community should allow the new leadership the time necessary to do exactly that, especially considering that the one thing that resonated in the special meeting was that there is still work to be done to improve the lives of those in the LGBT community. Yes, there have been great successes in the quest for equality in recent months in Washington, D.C., and across the country but you cannot rest on your laurels when all members of the community are not treated equally.
Among the work that needs to be done is reducing the number of hate crimes plaguing the LGBT community in D.C. This very important issue and others should now be the focus as we prepare to enter into 2013.
The special meeting, challenges and questions about the meeting are now in the past. That chapter has ended and it is time to move onto to a new one. In this new chapter, Martin Garcia, Angela Peoples, Vincent Villano, Barrie Daneker, and Jimmie Luthuli stand posed to lead a club with a rich history and tradition into a new era. This executive board, like those that have come before them, will continue the legacy and be staunch advocates for the LGBT community.
Membership in the organization is growing; fresh ideas are flowing and old and new members are eager to work together. We are “fired up and ready to go!” That’s what every organization wants and we have it. We need to embrace that.
I stand behind the club leadership and am ready to do whatever I can to improve the lives of my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters. Will you join me and do the same?
Jerome Hunt, Ph.D. is the outgoing vice president of administration for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and a researcher specializing in “post-racial” black leaders and the black LGBT community. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of the District of Columbia. Reach him at Jerome.firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @jeromehuntphd.