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Monday, May 2, 2011

Friday With Equality Forum

I've got a number of things I want to talk about and am a bit pressed for time (with the Flyers starting in a half-hour, as I begin this). Plus I've been sneezing today -- I woke up to the sound of lawnmowing going on somewhere outside and I think it set off my allergies. Then I took some allergy medication and it made me sleepy. So I'm going to try and cover my odd little weekend in a few posts, starting with this one.

I decided to volunteer for this year's Equality Forum, a week-long series of LGBT-related events -- panel discussions, parties, etc. culminating in the SundayOUT festival held yesterday (more on that in a separate post). I went to an orientation meeting a couple of weeks ago and at that meeting I signed up to appear at two events to hand out fliers, surveys, etc. (according to the literature I was given at the orientation meeting). I ended up being assigned to just one event: a tribute to a choreographer, Zane Booker, held Friday at the Merriam Theater. The confirmation email said my shift was to start at 6:30 pm and we were told to arrive about 15 minutes before our shifts. It listed two other volunteers for this event as well as a board member who was to coordinate everything.

I arrived at the Merriam Theater at 6:15. The people inside the lobby had little or no idea what I was talking about when I arrived. One tried to insist I was in the wrong place. Another said he was aware of it but that he didn't know much else and that someone from Equality Forum was supposed to arrive shortly. I stood there (feeling like an idiot) waiting for nearly a half-hour while the lobby filled up with ticketholders. After this time, two people, a man and a woman, arrived from Equality Forum and eventually spoke to the man I had spoken to, who pointed me out to them. I spotted this, walked over and introduced myself.

Neither of them was the person listed on the email as the board member who was supposed to be there. And only one other volunteer was was going to be there as the third person apparently canceled. Whether that other volunteer ever got there, I have no idea.

In the midst of trying to get some of their other issues resolved (with both the Merriam Theater people and each other), the EF woman told me that the dance tribute wasn't actually an Equality Forum event. They were just sort of piggybacking on to it (my words, not hers). The EF man said I was supposed to act as an usher, and said I should see the head of the ushers. He didn't know who that was, the Merriam person didn't know where that head usher was, and besides, by this point they had already moved the ropes and began letting people into the theater. (Of course, being an actual usher, as opposed to just handing out fliers, wasn't listed in the duties in their orientation literature. I think a bit of preparation would have been required to act as an usher -- learning seat locations, etc.)

Finally, the woman just gave me some Equality Forum brochures and asked me to stand at the inside entrance to the theater and hand them out to people, so I went over to the door as they quickly went off in other directions. It was a small stack. I did as asked, and the brochures went quickly. Since many people had already gone into the theater, not many people got them at any rate. A few minutes later the EF man passed by, and I stopped him and explained that the brochures were gone. He said he'd get me some more, and quickly left. He seemed a bit distracted.

I waited a few minutes longer, now standing at that door and again feeling (and no doubt looking) like an idiot as still more attendees arrived. Finally, having had enough, I walked out. I was supposed to be there (according to the email) until 9:15. As I recall, it was about 7:10 or so when I left.

As I tweeted after I left: "Dear Equality Forum: you want my help? Be on time, be organized and have sufficient supplies. Don't waste my time." My time volunteering with the Campaign for Working Families last year went very well (although it was a bit stressful at times), but I ended up, in part because of procrastination, not signing up again this year. This thing on Friday was a mess. I will surely do some more volunteer stuff, but not with Equality Forum. Considering that they started this in 1993 (when it was known as Pridefest), they have no excuse for this.

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