NOBODY CARES ABOUT OR UNDERSTANDS INTERSEX PEOPLE OR EVEN WHAT IT MEANS TO BE INTERSEX.
Anybody who has ever advocated about something they are passionate about will probably inform you on some level that it is a tireless and endless endeavor. I was so enthusiastic and excited to be a part of my hometown pride. ORLANDO! Orlando has certainly grown in recent years to be a major metropolitan player and city. The annual Pride events boast some 300,000k plus in attendance and is great for the local market and community. I was proud to have been asked to be a part of the celebration.
My Week actually started with a hosting event in connection with Come Out with Pride Orlando as JustJuleigh.com and COWP partnered to show the groundbreaking film “Every Body” by famed director Julie Cohen of RBG documentary fame. “Every Body” showcases 3 personal accounts of “Intersex Journeys” from 3 Intersex advocates in the community and even showcases a horrifying account of how a therapist from the 60’s single handedly changed the medical jurisdiction of an entire community from his own experiment and belief system. It’s now available to stream on Peacock and Amazon Prime. It is a superb teaching tool in educating the general public about the struggle many in the community face and how we are NOT Hermaphrodites! I have included the Amazon link below.
After over 50 individuals signed up to see the film at our screening, only 10 showed up. While 10 is still 10 that needed to see it, I was informed the next day it conflicted with some important circuit parties. In the area and that if I had charged an admission, people would have been more inclined to show up. I find that Sad. I walked away feeling like my community had let me down. I was proud of myself for setting it up in under a month but also sad that individuals had better things to do than spend an hour seeing a free film about something that wasn’t a show about bottoms and Lube.
Friday night was the Equality Florida Freedom Gala at the Sheraton North in Maitland, Florida.
Equality Florida is a political advocacy group that advocates for civil rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) residents of the U.S. state of Florida. Equality Florida consists of two organizations – Equality Florida Institute, Inc., the 501(c)(3) educational charity and Equality Florida Action, Inc., the 501(c)(4) advocacy organization. Together with over 300,000 supporters, these organizations form the largest civil rights organization dedicated to Florida’s LGBTQ community.
In addition to their work in Tallahassee, they work with local partners, providing resources and helping to build coalitions that have passed pro-equality laws across the state. Equality Florida provides leadership trainings, volunteer opportunities, and sponsorship opportunities. Equality Florida has been ranked a top-rated non-profit by Great Nonprofits, I have long wanted to become more involved with this non-Profit and after returning to Orlando this year have decided to be the driving “Intersex” voice and advocate to shed light on our plight too.
The Gala was beautiful and I had a chance to reconnect with friends like Nikole Parker who is the Director of Transgender Equality and Gina Duncan who is Central Florida’s Development Leader as well as a new friend Carlos Guillermo Smith. Carlos made history as Florida’s first openly-LGBTQ Latino lawmaker with his election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016. I was able to have some great conversations about advocacy and the importance of Intersex Inclusion with each of them and am excited to move forward with EF in doing so.
While in conversation with Nikole, we discussed how far behind we are and she said “Look, Trans issues are 10 years behind in where they need to be, and INTERSEX knowledge and inclusion is 20 years behind that!!” That hit me like a brick, but I knew she was right. EF even is missing the boat by not having a fair amount of INTERSEX Representation and I want to change that by this time next year! I am excited to see what we can do!
Saturday Morning was Come Out With Pride Orlando. I was asked to represent the Intersex community by riding in the Parade, The parade sees an estimated crowd each year of well over 200,000 people and this year was no different. To represent the Intersex colors and community I wore a Purple Gown, Provided By a TikTok Cocktail and was sponsored by BizzyNateCreative Owner and Creative Director, Nate Carames West. Bizzynate.com furnished my sweet ride a replica of Transformers “Bumblebee” and I wore Jewlery by Chris Weaver of Adorn Embellishments.
Circling back to the origins of this blog post. Even with all the advocacy I have done over the years in Orlando and even being a former board member for COWP I felt even more marginalized as an INTERSEX person. Thru ought the parade I saw people reading “Intersex Advocate” and watched people’s faces contort and mouth the words…”What’s Intersex?” I saw a few friends in the crowd and well-wishers that knew my story, but it just felt, like I was the red headed stepchild! The news crew was giving play by plays and announcing all the other participants and took a long time filming me only to be regulated down to “OH, Look a yellow convertible!” I felt like I needed dancers in jock straps and lingerie and salacious to considered newsworthy. The crazy thing is NOT every INTERSEX person is going to identify as being Gay or Lesbian or Trans. HOWEVER, The legislation in FLORIDA 100 percent will affect my community TOO and instead of allowing us a SEAT AT THE TABLE you continue to ignore us and hide us away and NOT even be open to learning about who WE ARE!! I even heard a slew of people discussing how we should go back to LGBT and forget the IA because it’s confusing!!! ITS CONFUSING Because you’re CHOOSING to keep us in the dark!!
After the parade, I changed and walked thru the festival and approached a pretty prominent Health Clinics booth. I was excited to see that they had new marketing materials that celebrated the acronym LGBTQIA and the Mantra that they had services and supported every letter. One of the staff said, “Have you heard about us??” I said YES, she said, “Do you want any swag representing any particular “Letter”? I said yes Show me what you have for Intersex! She responded with “What’s That? Oh, we don’t have anything for the I.” I left disappointed. I left feeling let down by my community and I left with a renewed sense of making sure next year there IS a LARGE Presence. I would like to Thank the individuals that I have mentioned in this article and the COWP Team and executive director Tatiana Quiroga. Let’s make next year an Intersex euphoria!