What a Year at the Task Force Has Taught me
As my fellowship comes to a close, I cannot help but reflect on my time at the National LGBTQ Task Force. For the past year, I have had the amazing opportunity to work as the media and public relations fellow at the Task Force. I could not be more thankful to have worked for such an incredible and inspiring organization that advocates for the rights and full freedom of LGBTQ people. The Task Force provided me with a lot of opportunities to learn more about myself and how to use my skill set to help others. I also had the opportunity to work directly with incredible LGBTQ Activists who have inspired me to continue to grow as a person and as an advocate.
At the Task Force, I have worked on a number of projects including reproductive rights, immigration reform, ending anti-transgender violence, restoring the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and more. One of the most incredible experiences I had while at the Task Force was in January when I traveled to Chicago with our communications team for the nation’s largest LGBTQ conference, Creating Change. At the conference, I was in charge of drafting and publishing the conference newsletter for the more than 4,000 attendees. Publishing the newsletter was a highly visible project with a very tight schedule; but I thrive in a fast-paced, demanding work environment and I am proud to say that the newsletter was delivered on time and received great reviews.
The Task Force also taught me that even though there have been many advances in the LGBTQ movement, such as winning the right for same-sex couples to marry, there is still a lot more work to be done. For example, approximately 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ, yet LGBTQ youth make up less than 10% of the general youth population. Also, how the unjust criminal justice system fails LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ people of color and LGBTQ people of low income. Additionally, the use of outdated HIV criminalization laws that punish the behaviors of people living with HIV, even if those behaviors carry no transmission. Data from the William Institute found that individuals charged with HIV-related cases were convicted in 99% of the cases, and 91% of those convicted were sentenced to jail time in prisons. In some states, individuals convicted under these laws are forced to register as sex offenders.
At the Task Force I learned a lot about the countless barriers LGBTQ people face in the United States. I have learned that every issue is an LGBTQ issue and as a Latino myself, I can relate with many of the issues the Task Force advocates for. I am thankful to have spent the past year elevating the voices of LGBTQ people. So as I get ready to leave the Task Force I will continue advocating for social justice and for LGBTQ people. I will always treasure all the knowledge I learned at the National LGBTQ Task Force and I am looking forward to a future when we can finally achieve full freedom, justice, and equality for all LGBTQ people.
by Daniel Chevez, National LGBTQ Task Force Media Relations Fellow