Queer Planet: Creating Change Closing Thoughts



Emilia Dunham, Network Program Associate


by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate, reporting on Creating Change, Minneapolis 2011

So I am back from Creating Change and my head is definitely spinning [not just from turbulent flights and lost luggage] from the amazing conversations and ideas that have completely taken over my thoughts in the past week. I’ve been thinking non-stop about my own privilege, intersecting identities (race, country of origin, etc), how to build community/collaborations and other issues LGBTQ people need to start addressing like socio-economic status, welfare and the prison system.

Some of my major observations is that the conference seemed like the most diverse I have ever experienced. I have attended many LGBT events in the past where there has been some type of huge demographic imbalance like gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, age, education, religion, income and gender identity imbalance. While I think there were some disproportionate representations still, I felt the conference did a lot more to welcome folks of many different identities. The best part was that folks from differing communities had the space to challenge the mainstream conversations that tend to exclude

As a result of the diversity and openness of the space, I felt more comfortable being myself there than at most LGBTQ events I have attended in the past. For instance there were many other trans women and trans men, many youth and young adults and other folks who don’t typically fit in. Unlike other conferences I have attended in the past, trans people were not ignored, stared at, misrepresented or tokenized. This time I felt we were respected as a major part of the conversation. The best part was that you could pretty much go up to anyone and start a great conversation.

A friend of mine referred to it as “Queer Planet” as there were literally thousands of queers who took up the entire 25 stories of the hotel. Even adjacent stores and entertainment spaces were filled with us. It really makes me wonder that if instead of 5 days where we could be free with our conversations and personalities, the whole planet was this embracing and welcoming.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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