Saving Ourselves Symposium (SOS) 2017 Reflections - Brandon

My experience during the SOS Conference was simply amazing. Firstly, The Movement staff is quite welcoming and a burst of genuine hearts. I’ve never felt so refreshed than being around that loving staff. They provide a sense of openness and belonging that I haven’t felt with people I’ve known for years. The opening session with the team was such an eye opening and unified front. The staff set the tone for the entire conference and that had me enthused about what I was going to experience.

I encountered a wide range of people from the LGBTQ community that are from different walks of life. The trans community expressed their lack of inclusiveness, which stuck with me. Its saddening to think that people that should be in sync with the movements that this community makes feel uninvolved. They also face more day to day obstacles than a typical gay or lesbian do. This being that they have to express more of an openness when being involved with people and the question is should they really have to.

Due to the fact that I’m currently in college now; the session about HBCU Excellence was quite informative. Seeing other guys interaction and perspectives on college is good to compare to my own. In the community now there’s a lack of interaction and that can take a toll on one’s mental health. The existence of safe places and social gatherings aren’t relevant for LGBTQ individuals at my school nor many others. Leading me to say, feeling secure at school can be vital to you expressing your full potential.

Lastly, Converge, “The Sum of US” was pretty epic. Quite often people complain and don’t understand why certain opportunities are available. I believe that Converge is the answer to that misunderstanding. Everything that we want and seek to exist for us has to be done by us.

Witnessing those sessions, sets me up for the last one I appreciated. "Unleashing your Vision" can be interpreted in many aspects of life. Using things such as your greatest shame to be your empowerment. Having a sense of self and being able to define who you are. Using who and what you’ve become to be an asset to someone else. A quote I made is, “Be the best illustration of you because in many occasions you’re the only bible that some will ever encounter.”

I now seek to be highly involved and to make a beautiful impact on the lives of others. I owe this motivation and vision to The Movement and the SOS conference. Experiencing those vibrant people and well expressed sessions was immensely breathtaking.

Thank you,

Brandon Smith

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