Note: This article was originally posted on July 30 in Tagg Magazine.
Morgen Hunt and Riah Gonzales-King are president and vice president of the Equality Chamber of Commerce DC Metro (ECCDC), respectively. Gonzales-King wrote the letter below to her best friend and collaborator as a nod to their enduring friendship.
I first met Morgen Hunt on Valentine’s Day at an Equality Chamber of Commerce (ECCDC) networking event. She walked into the Beacon Hotel with platinum locks flowing down her bronze back in a gleaming teal bandage dress with rhinestone platforms and a demeanor that showed everyone she had nothing to prove, and everything to gain.
This was my first networking event of any kind and as a 21-year-old trans entrepreneur, I was so nervous. Half way through the event, Morgen took over the music and put on Mariah Carey, the woman I named myself after. We danced together on the small stage in the corner of the room. This initial interaction was the beginning of a friendship that would go on to serve as an endless personal and professional enlightenment for both of us — honing, reshaping, and elevating our understanding of our lives, our relationships, our businesses and the communities with which we identify.
Morgen and I both grew up with tremendous privileges many people don’t inherit. We were not taught to go to school, find a job and settle down. We were taught to take the path less traveled — and to do so with grit, ambition and enthusiasm. This ingrained sense of self- determination and gratitude for our lived experiences has guided our friendship since its inception.
Combining Morgen’s impenetrable confidence and my thoughtful resourcefulness, our connection has transcended our two beings. In 2021, with Morgen as the incumbent President of ECCDC, and my appointment to Vice President, we were given a unique opportunity to elevate the trans community.
We already spoke often about issues LGBTQ people face and are now in a position to take action to connect our people — the people who create themselves — with the abundance that we have been privileged enough to have.
We understand that our stories are uncommon, and we seek to create a community of ambitious LGBTQ individuals who turn their experiences into stepping stones to create equitable lives for themselves and for the next generation.
To turn sorrow into gold is a special kind of skill. It is mostly self-affirming and overlooked by those who can not directly relate, but if I’ve learned anything from our friendship, it is that the profound power of our experiences — and the understandings of ourselves and society we reach as a result — have the potential to change the world we live in, and it already is — one person, one business, and one connection at a time.
This July — Morgen’s birthday month — I celebrate her inspiring and affirming essence, I celebrate the lessons and truths I’ve been able to teach her, and I celebrate the beauty and rarity of our unique perspectives partnering together to forge a new path for our community.
Happy birthday, my dear friend!
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