Creating Change: Looking Back and Looking Forward

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Well, I am all settled into my hotel room in Dallas and have already begun reconnecting with my amazing colleagues in the Consortium of LGBT Higher Education Resource Professionals. I’ll get another full day with them tomorrow and then the official Creating Change conference begins!

Tonight, I thought I’d look back on some of my posts from last year. When I went to Creating Change in Denver, this blog was not even a month old. It’s crazy to think how far it’s come. Here are just a few highlights from my posts last year, all of which you can access via the archive link on the left.

Creating Change is an important experience for two main reasons: 1) It’s a rare opportunity to be in a totally queer space. 2) It’s a rare opportunity to be surrounded by folks similarly passionate about LGBT issues.

Last year, one of our plenary speakers was Dolores Huerta. She had many amazing things to say, but I still love her message to white supremacists:

Get over it. You’re Africans.

And here are some of the things I wrote about last year that really delighted me about being at CC:

» Seeing queer people of color and a ton of programs about their experiences.

» Seeing queer people with disabilities and various programs about their experiences.

» Meeting people who openly identify as intersex.

» Seeing people with trans, queer, and other non-conforming gender idenities AND getting to connect with them.

» Having the opportunity to practice using gender-neutral pronouns.  Sie, Hir, Hirs!

» Using gender-neutral bathrooms!  And I don’t mean those silly little “family restrooms.”  I mean all the big public restrooms are totally gender neutral (think Ally McBeal).

» Seeing enough faux-haws (my own faux-faux-hawk included) to unionize.  I wonder if Dolores Huerta is still around!

Every year, The Task Force’s Executive Director offers a State of the Movement address. Here are a few choice quotes from last year’s:

It’s not biology, but love that makes a family.

There is a big difference between blaming and learning. Let us be learners so that we may be leaders.

First, this moment calls for a new kind of leadership in the LGBT movement — not the leadership of one, but the collaborative leadership of many. Don’t get me wrong, the Task Force and I will assert leadership — but at the Task Force, we believe that strength comes not from hoarding power but by building power and sharing power and using power for good. It is why so much of our work is done through coalitions or convenings like Creating Change.

To give you an idea of how powerful an experience this conference is, here are some of my thoughts from moments after I left last year’s conference. I actually remember sitting in the Denver terminal writing these words:

It’s difficult to leave the conference, because there is something special about that environment.  I made awesome connections with some people that while they were short and thus not yet deep, were significantly more meaningful than a lot of the relationships in my current environment.  People understood and respected what I stood for and were supportive and willing to engage on those topics.  I could connect to others and learn tons of new things about aspects of their identities and experiences that are salient to them.

It’s so true. Given that, essentially, the goal of our work is to reach out so that others are more open to us, it behooves us to be incredibly open to each other. There will be over 2000 attendees at this conference this week! That’s a lot of diverse perspectives. What’s great is the conference demands the kind of respect and openness that allows us all to learn from each other!

And with great highs come balancing lows. The thrill of the conference is countered by the transition back to the “real world.” Here are some of my thoughts from after I left Creating Change last year:

I keep looking around and I have to tell myself that not everybody’s queer.  In fact, where I am, most aren’t.  It’s kind of disconcerting.  I have to go back to being one of the only people in my community who is so passionate about LGBT advocacy.  It’s a downer.  I have cried.

I think we all have to take some time to reflect about how much joy there was to make those connections.  I met people who I feel like I just knew.  There was a feeling of safeness, and as a result an instant connection much deeper than you’d expect.  Perhaps the best metaphor is a family reunion.  Most of the people you don’t know, but you know you’re connected.

It’s so true. (It’s amazing how the passing of a year make your own words feel like someone else’s!)

I wonder if some people have trouble appreciating the goals of queer equality because they’ve never truly experience queer unity. In a way, it’s like experiencing heterosexual privilege for a weekend. You can kind of assume that the people you meet here are “family.” You might not know exactly how they identify, but it’s nice feeling like you can more safely assume there’s a good chance they’re not straight.

Well, it’s getting late, and I don’t want to fall behind on sleep before the conference even gets going. I’m going to try to blog throughout my time here in Dallas, but expect a lot of posts to go up in the week ahead as I catch up on both participating in the conference AND writing about it.

Cheers from Dallas and the National Conference on LGBT Equality!!

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