After a recently traumatic trip to the East Coast, my initial reaction to the email inviting me to a LGBT Tech Innovation Summit at the White House was “That is SO cool. Yea, I’m not going”.
I was eventually convinced otherwise, and decided to make a weekend of it. I started the trip by winning the 4th of the July with Leah. Winning the 4th of July included taking jumping photos in front of quintessential D.C. buildings, such as:
Other #winning moments include a stranger asking me if I wanted to be interviewed on patriotism, after he saw me jumping and shouting “HAPPY birthday AMERICA!” The interaction went a little something like this:
“What does July 4th mean to you?” – It means I have freedom to celebrate! “What do you like about being American?” – Freedom to be my authentic self! “What makes America different than other countries?” – FREEDOM!
(police man walks up to the man interviewing me with a tripod camera):“Y’all can’t be doing that. The tripod looks like an IED”
After getting busted by the police, we head to the National Mall to await the fireworks.
We head home among the throng of people, together resembling a stepped-upon anthill, and party the night away (read: go to bed). The next morning, Leah and I head to Baltimore to be on a boat and eat amazing crab cakes with her parents.
We spend the night in the boat and get back in time for the Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) @ the White House HH. Well, Leah gets back in time for the HH. I spend an hour getting lost on the metro after being super proud of successfully navigating the bus from Leah’s place to Christie’s. Celebrated too soon.
I get to the HH, where I start to realize how small of a world it, especially for the LGBT community. I run into a friend from London, who I distinctly remember saying goodbye to in SF, thinking “I’ll never see her again”, plus familiar faces from the LWT Summit in SF. After a few hours, I head back to Christie’s for crab dinner!
The next day I work from the DC office in the morning, meet up with a few other LGBT Googlers and to the White House we go! We wait in a harrowing heat, pass the security screens, and arrive at the White House (well, the Eisenhower Executive Briefing Center, but …it counts).
Let the speakers and innovation summit begin!
We learn surprising stats about LGBT poverty lines in metro v. rural areas, hear elevator pitches from LGBT entrepreneurs, and discuss how technology impacts the transgender community. We challenge the status quo. We discuss difficult topics. We learn about challenging issues. We inspire each other. Then, we drink. In this beautiful room:
We continue the post Summit celebration by drinking on the rooftop of the Washington Hotel (that’s where George Washington used to drink) (I made that up). I once again recognize women I’d previously met in SF, NYC and added a few new faces to the mix. Next thing I know, I am the last one standing and I take that as a sign to go home.
I rest my head feeling inspired, encouraged, and also a little drunk. I rise in the morning, exhilarated from the previous day’s highs, which quickly develops into what I call “post-amazing-event-blues”. Only one thing is on my mind: What’s next?