I'm in DC for the National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative this weekend, an event put together by Mike Rogers of Blogactive and PageOneQ. The goal is to bring together LGBT bloggers, many from outside of the Beltway, to network with, educate and strategize with some of our advocacy organizations, politicians and non-profits about the political blogosphere and its role in advancing LGBT rights.

One of the frustrations some new media folks like myself have is that many professionals working in establishment politics (or cover it) have a meager understanding about several aspects of blogging:

* what motivates bloggers, and who or what do they represent -- citizen journalism, commentary, rabble-rousing activism, etc.?

* what are the tools they use to communicate and how effective are they, what constitutes viral success?

* what is the difference and relationship between a blogger's post and the reader comments and dialogue that spring from them?

* what is a blogging community and do blogs represent the grassroots or something other level of institutional organizing in our movement?

* how can establishment organizations work with blogs, establish their own blogs and maintain credibility with online readership of independent blogs?

More below the fold. The weekend is sponsored by the generous philanthropist Jonathan Lewis, as well as several LGBT and progressive organizations, including HRC, The Victory Fund, The Task Force, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, GLAAD, Bolthouse Farms, Microsoft, the New Organizing Institute and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

One of the most important aspects of this gathering is that it brings bloggers from all over the country -- regional diversity and POV is sorely lacking in establishment DC, which is in its own political bubble, and those of us working for change outside of that network will get a chance to share tools, notes and the different struggles in LGBT rights around the country and how we can work together in what is going to have to become a 50-state strategy to combat the well-funded right wing desperation to wind the cultural clock back. It will take citizen journalists, MSM and non-profits working on the same page. Not the same message or tactics, mind you, but this is a chance to see where the commonalities lie, and where difference is a strength, not a weakness or something to quash.

Today I'm going to moderate the lunch plenary discussion at the 24th International Gay & Lesbian Leadership Conference, "Winning Coalitions for the Common Good" (full program here), that will also be attended by the Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative group. The summary:

Recent election outcomes in the U.S. have led some to call for renewed efforts to build stronger coalitions both within and outside the LGBT communities. How can LGBT movement leaders/advocates build mutually beneficial ties with non-LGBT members of African-American, Latino, business, labor and other communities? This panel will explore strategies for establishing or expanding authentic outreach that will grow and strengthen the LGBT equality movement.

The panelists are Kathryn Kolbert, President of People for the American Way; Assemblymember John Pérez, California State Assembly; Robert Raben, Founder, The Raben Group; and Dr. Kenneth Samuel, African American Ministers Leadership Council.