Event brings students closer to LGBT advocates

Mimosas and tequilas sparkled in the glasses of guests as they chatted, awaiting the beginning of the 13th annual Victory Fund Champagne Brunch Sunday.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund was founded by supporters and advocates for political equality which would be more inclusive of all of America’s voices, and each year the Champagne Brunch is held to fundraise for the cause and socialize.

“It was inspiring to hear from the individuals on stage,” said political science senior Lance Reyna. “The Victory Fund is always so supportive and encouraging to help reach the goal of equality for all. It motivates me to someday have a career in politics.”

More than 700 guests attended, and Alex Martinez, one of the directors on the Victory Fund Board, sponsored three tables, one of which he donated to UH students.

“I’ve been involved for too many years — it’s about building the pipeline for the future generation. Passing the torch. Students want to come to this event. I was a student once — I was very passionate when I was seventeen. I know there are students who are passionate,” Martinez said.

Martinez reached out to the director of UH’s LGBT Resource Center, Lorraine Schroeder, to ask if students wanted to attend.

“I knew that she was the main person on campus,” he said.

Chairs priced at $125 a seat were given to UH students so they could meet and network with LGBT politicians.

Upon meeting House Representative Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), political science and liberal studies senior Yesenia Chavez said, “It was an amazing feeling to be able to tell her that I actually feel partly represented in Congress, now that there is an openly bisexual in the House. It was truly an inspiring experience.”

Martinez said he was working to start an organization called Young Professionals for Victory, and he wanted it to be all about the youth.

Mayor Annise Parker made an appearance, thanking Victory Fund for backing her campaign, and to encourage attendees to donate.

“The dollars you give to Victory Fund don’t just elect candidates, they change lives,” Parker said.

Parker was not the only politician there — Mary Gonzales from the Texas House of Representatives, and Brian Sims from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives were also present and said a few words.

“I expect that the Victory Fund will find more candidates to support,” Gonzales said. “[Candidates that] represent LGBT Texans.”

Gonzales and Sims praised the Victory Fund for supporting their campaigns and for being inclusive to the entire LGBT community.

Sims joked about the number of letters being added to the acronym and said, “My mother calls us the ABS community. All But Straight.”

The President and CEO of Victory Fund, Chuck Wolfe, accepted the praise, but acknowledged there is still work to be done.

“Momentum is great, but it doesn’t close the gap of equality,” Wolfe said. “Momentum doesn’t help lesbians in Mississippi who are afraid to hold hands because they might get fired from their jobs. Momentum doesn’t cover our transgender brothers and sisters. Equality doesn’t come to those who wait — it comes to those who work for it.”

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