Tonight I felt a particular sense of frustration at our LGBT Town Hall Meeting. I've decided to write a critique in response to what I feel were some of the shortcomings of the meeting. This is by no means meant to say that I could have done a better job, but I feel that there were some major issues with the formatting.
First and foremost, these meetings need to have a set place and time that is advertised well in advance, so that everyone has the possibility to attend. I would recommend choosing a date such as the 2nd Wednesday of the first month in each quarter (i.e. January, April, July and October). If there is a consistent time and place, it will make it easier for everyone to attend, with the possibility that visitors may also come if they choose to do so.
Secondly, we need to start and end on time. This is frequently an issue I've found at meetings with LGBT groups, and it is frustrating because it demonstrates a lack of respect for people's lives. We all have other things we need to do as well, and no one wants to waste time at a meeting when we don't feel the meeting is being productive.
Thirdly, there needs to be an agenda. All issues that are seeking to be part of the agenda should be emailed to the person in charge no less than a week before the meeting. Each topic should be given a set amount of time, so that the meeting moves smoothly, and all topics get discussed, even if there are comments and/or questions that still need to be answered.
Fourth, each group that would like to be represented should have an information sheet about previous events and future events. It is nice to hear about things that are going on, but I actually read the news, and I'm not there for a recap of everything that has happened. If people fail to inform themselves, each group can have their relevant information handy.
Fifth, we need to discuss real issues. When we discuss everything going on with each group, it unnecessarily extends the meeting, and forces us to focus on topics that are best handled between the involved parties. I have enough drama in my life; I don't need to become embroiled in the war between the different groups in our community.
Sixth, I believe there should be comment cards or paper available to all attendees. Either that or a list of email addresses to contact all of the different groups. That way, if we object to a certain portion of the meeting or have comments pertaining to a certain group, instead of bringing it up in the meeting, we can address the relevant parties directly.
I believe that these meetings are meant to bring us together, and allow us to focus all of our energy on accomplishing goals within the community. Lest we forget, the infighting we have doesn't help stop atrocities like the recent suicides in Georgia and Massachusetts.
These meetings should be discussion about what needs to happen in the community, and involve coordinating efforts to bring change. We all spare the time to show up, but then nothing happens when we do.
Please, let us work together to help make a better future!