I’ve luckily found that my calling or purpose in life is creating safe spaces for LGBTQ communities. Spaces where disenfranchised communities can thrive like never before. Spaces where surviving, let alone thriving, was never before possible. When used properly, Art of Hosting methodologies can drag infinite possibility out of the depths of impossibility, and making the impossible possibly is where activists live. Fifty years ago the thought of a gay black man leading efforts to decrease health disparity within the LGBTQ community was an improbable impossibility. But through entire movements that include stark sacrifice, protest, intense debate and yes, conversation, the improbable became possible.
After my initial Art of Hosting training less than six months ago I immediately infused AoH methods into my work as the LGBTQ Health Advocate at Columbus Public Health. A World Café at the city’s inaugural Greater Columbus LGBTQ Health Coalition produced a working mission statement is less than two hours. An Open Space at the Ohio Youth Safety Summit, a 2-day leadership development training for LGBTQ youth ages 16-22, not only opened young minds and gave them ownership of the conversation, but empowered them to believe they could change the world around them. And a well-planned Harvest during a citywide community conversation on LGBTQ healthcare produced invaluable collective knowledge on the state of healthcare in Columbus’ LGBTQ community.
And this is just a snapshot. Art of Hosting is something I now include in meetings I conduct, not just at my place of employment, but within my activism work throughout the city. Columbus Urban Pride, a consortium of local leaders working to instill a sense of celebration for racial diversity within the local LGBTQ community, now starts its meetings with a Check In. And mindfulness has become a key component in the anti-bullying seminars I conduct with small-town Midwest high schools and colleges.
At Art of Hosting: Beyond the Basics, I’m hoping to further hone the necessary skill of deconstructing the idea of impossibility through conversation, in furthering my work to create safe thriving spaces for LGBTQ communities. I recently had the honor of attending a speech by Congressman John Lewis, one of the last living legends of the Civil Rights Movement. Art of Hosting theology is clearly a distant cousin to the philosophies of nonviolent activism. The Congressman said something that I think will stay with me throughout the Art of Hosting: Beyond the Basics weekend, “We are all in the same house and must learn to love and help each other.”
How can we use Art of Hosting to get us all to this place of shared responsibility of our fellow man? No matter our differences. That is what Art of Hosting: Beyond the Basics will be about for me.