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.