In 1984, there were an estimated 50 out LGBT officials in the whole world. Today, there are more than 1,000, and they’re on the front lines in the fight for equality every day in their respective public offices. In 2011, an additional 53 openly LGBT candidates joined their ranks, moving the dial that much closer to equality. 

I’m excited to meet many of these emerging LGBT leaders this weekend as I travel to the 2011 International Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute Conference in Houston, Texas, where I’ll be participating in five days of training, skills building, and networking with hundreds of openly LGBT leaders.

Why Houston, you may ask? At first glance, you may not think Texas is progressive. However, this is actually the second consecutive year the conference has been held in Houston, which also just re-elected its mayor, Annise Parker – she’s one of the 1,000 out officials I mentioned earlier, having been the first elected gay mayor of a major U.S. city. A tall order considering Houston is the fifth largest city in America.

I’m fortunate enough to attend the GLLI conference thanks to a scholarship I won through the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund this year. Over the summer, I was selected as part of the first class of Victory Congressional Interns, where I completed a press internship on Capitol Hill with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. I’ll also get to rekindle with my fellow scholars this weekend in Texas.

In short, I’m excited to head to the Lone Star state for some one-of-a-kind training and to meet LGBT leaders from across the U.S. I’ll be updating the PM Buzzfeed with blog updates, as well as tweeting at @ProgressMich along the way – feel free to follow my travels!

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