Something tells me when you first saw the word POSE, you thought what most of us would, one of the variations of its meaning aside from S&M (Stand and Model). One of my favorite resources, Merriam-Webster, defines it :
1 a : to set forth or offer for attention or consideration <let me pose a question>
b : to come to attention as : present <smoking poses a health risk>
2 a : to put or set in place
b : to place (as a model) in a studied attitude
More about that later.
Many who know me, know I am what is called a habitual volunteer. I’ve said before and will gladly repeat, it is up to each of us to give back. It’s easy to complain about things that are wrong today, but it’s just as easy (and less stressful) to step up to the plate and (try to) make a difference. Sharing “treasure” ($) sure helps, but time and talent do as well.
Back in 1993, I first volunteered for Pride One of Broward County, Inc., which most of us knew for years as Pride South Florida (PSF), where I soon became the treasurer. After a few years, I left the board. However, I remained a volunteer when time permitted. PrideFest was always a lot of work, but a lot of fun.
Years later in 2009, PSF had realized their treasurer at the time, Mike Cruz, had taken funds that were not only from the organization, but, as many of us saw it, as taking funds from the community. After a long hiatus from the Pride board and 27 1/2 years of banking under my belt, I was asked to return as the treasurer, which I did without hesitation.
Now, I will say that being part of any organization where you try to keep the best interest of the community first and foremost, and do good, can be a thankless, sometimes nasty undertaking. People are quick to criticize what goes or went wrong, yet few will step up to the plate to make the next time better. I saw a lot of this being part of Pride. At the time I came back, at one point, only 2 of us were left to decide whether to keep the organization going or to use what money was left and donate it to the community, by saying it’s been a great 32 years, but we’re done. Of course, that didn’t happen. Slowly but surely the board was rebuilt and though $47,000 less in our bank account, we vowed the show must go on. I offered to stay on board to see the financial situation had been taken care of and the court proceedings took place, which they eventually did and monies are being paid back.
Over the next few years, as in any board, there were disagreements. Some stayed on, others left. Some used it as a time to show disdain for others. Some like myself only volunteered at event time.
But for years, one of the things many board members talked about and wanted most was to highlight Fort Lauderdale, show that PSF was a viable organization and prove even the darkest of times couldn’t stop them from going forward.
Now back to the word POSE. What I am referring to is the acronym for Prides of The Southeast. This past weekend, our own Pride Fort Lauderdale, now in their 39th year (yes, 39) was host to the 2016 POSE Conference and Gala, of which I was privileged to play a small part. 55+ persons of various leadership roles came to South Florida representing 19 Pride organizations, and some four million combined attendees. There were over 25 workshops and a host of speakers, which included some of our local heroes–District 2 Commissioner Dean Trantalis, Bishop S.F. Makalani-MaHee, Kevin J. Clevenger, Cindy Brown, Bryan Wilson and many others from various organizations.
It was three days of education, encouragement, empowerment, and excitement. This kind of sharing has been occurring for years within the organization. The Saturday night Gala was a wonderful evening of great food, a 50/50 and silent auction. All funds raised will go toward various scholarships.
The entertainment was a wide variety. DJ Jalil Z was in the house along with new Fort Lauderdale resident and well-known comedian Peter Bisuito, who was the host for the event. Dawn Tallman, Scarlett Santana and Justin Utley put on wonderful performances.
If you’re not familiar with Justin Utley, he is a singer/songwriter/activist from Utah. Justin told about his two-year experience enduring ex-gay conversion therapy while with the Mormon Church. He went on to talk about the things we are seeing happen at home and around the world to the LGBT community.
Justin then told the audience something I have said many times–it’s time for people to stand up, speak out and not leave it up to others to fight for what should rightfully be ours. I felt as if I was hearing my own words being spoken by someone who has far more of an impact than I do, and here we are on the same page. It was a great way to end a wonderful night. Miik Martorell, Rocky Bowell, Shawn Manning and the rest of the Pride Fort Lauderdale team of volunteers did an incredible job of showcasing our Pride and our city.
I will end by saying even in dark hours it is possible to pull through when the odds are against you, but it takes many people to make it happen. Get involved in your community, get involved in your world. Pose (the other kind) with pride and make a difference!
Rev. Joel S. Slotnick is an ordained Interfaith minister and full time digital court reporter. He can be found on Facebook and followed on Twitter.
Thanks so much Joel. We did not know about the gala and we would have missed covering the event if it were not for your participation. Thanks for sharing, and for everything you do to make the world a better place. Far too often, when we do good deeds well, they appear less than the sacrifice they are. Your wisdom, your generosity of time and money, and your counsel are an invaluable addition to our community. We too often fail to stop and say thanks. We want to correct that error this moment. Thanks Joel Slotnick for being you.