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Lessons Learned from a "Community Leader"

Because of my work as a community advocate & social justice activist I continue to be given amazing opportunities. More and more often I am being recognized as a“Community Leader” and GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services is being recognized as a leading organization in our community because we are making a difference despite the ever present lack of funding.

Tonight I attended the “Truth Hearing” presented by North Alabama Healthcare for All. Dr. Pippa Abston and others organized this event to raise awareness of conditions facing our community regarding access to healthcare. Individuals shared their stories, which more often than not were stories of struggles accessing healthcare or affording healthcare.

When I arrived I was given a seat on the stage as a person serving as a “Community Leader” because of the work I do through GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services. On the stage with me were Alabama State Representative Laura Hall, Kenny Anderson representing the Mayor’s office of the City of Huntsville, Sara Crocker from the City of Huntsville’s Human Relations Commission, and others. We served as a “Listening Panel”. I was both honored and humbled as local community members shared their struggles with us. They looked to us as a group of people who are either in positions to create positive change or as people who know people who can create positive change.

As I listened to these incredible stories my heart was touched over and over by the strength and courage that I witnessed. Some people found it difficult to finish their stories because they were interrupted by their own tears as they talked about their struggles or the struggles of loved ones. As I listened I realized what an honor it was to be sitting on this stage and for these people to look to us with hope. Hope that we and the people in the audience might possibly leave the event with a better understanding of the limited healthcare that is currently available, unfairly unavailable, or of such poor quality that their struggles continue. Some of these people go without food in order to get their medications.

I left with a new awareness that people are looking to me for more than I ever imagined. I am a very small fish in a large pond so to speak but I have a voice, I know many people, I have earned the respect of a community, and people listen to me. People also look to me for help. I promise to continue doing all I can to use GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services to serve our entire community. I promise to use our offices at Our Space Community Center to provide support, resources, referrals, and space for support groups and community events. I promise to use my voice and whatever influence I have been given to create positive changes in our community.

"Together we are doing great things!"

- James Robinson

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