Creating Change 2012 a huge success!
The 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Changetook place in charming Baltimore, Md., Jan. 25-29, 2012. The largest-ever Creating Change attracted nearly 3,000 people from across the country and around the world. Creating Change 2012 achieved many firsts, starting with the first-ever Creating Change Lobby Day where nearly 300 advocates took to the halls of the U.S. Congress to lobby on behalf of LGBT equality.
History continued to be made with appearances from Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, marking the first time a sitting governor has addressed the conference. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan’s speech announcing new housing rules also made history as the first-ever Cabinet member to deliver remarks at Creating Change.
In addition to these milestones during rousing plenary sessions, the conference featured more than 250 workshops and training sessions. Networking opportunities such as receptions and dances were also made available, because dancing simply must be part of the revolution! For photos from Creating Change, visit our Facebook page.
The opening plenary keynote speech was delivered by Benjamin Jealous, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. As an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights and under his leadership, the NAACP launched its LGBT Equality Task Force in 2009, a partnership with the National Black Justice Coalition. Most recently, the Baltimore NAACP chapter joined the steering committee of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the broad and diverse coalition working to bring civil marriage equality to Maryland.
Jealous gave a rousing speech in which he talked about how the “LGBT struggle is a cause dear to my heart,” and how me must fight to end racial, economic, sexual and gender discrimination because “oppression is oppression is oppression.” He also talked about the importance of continuing to fight united until all people “can live in a country free of discrimination, hatred or violence.” Jealous delivered one of the most applauded lines of his speech when he said that any “child who is being bullied in school doesn’t have access to a fair education.”
The State of the Movement address given by Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey was, as always, a highlight of the conference. You can read the full text of the speech and watch the video here.
Calls to action were included in the conference, including a call during the “State of the Movement” for people to pledge to vote in 2012, and participants were able to register to vote on-site in the exhibit hall.
If you want to watch Carey’s standalone speech, watch here:
During the international panel, participants were encouraged to take action to send letters to the U.S. ambassadors to Guyana, Malaysia and Uganda to promote and support LGBT human rights. The panel featured LGBT organizers from around the world, including Nisha Ayub, programme manager of the Transgender Programme of the Pink Triangle Foundation of Malaysia; Joel Simpson, founder and co-chairperson of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) in Guyana; and Val Kalende, a noted Ugandan LGBT activist and co-founder of Freedom and Roam Uganda.
Mira Patel, special advisor on LGBT and women’s rights at the U.S. State Department, joined the discussion to reiterate the Obama administration’s support of international LGBT human rights. Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, moderated the panel.
Attendees were encouraged to communicate with officials from the Obama administration, who spoke on a panel and held a Q&A.
Fierce NYC Mic checked the panel, you can watch it here.
During the plenaries, leaders of the LGBT movement were presented with awards acknowledging their work. Creating Change conference director Sue Hyde presented the Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement to “our good friend Joan E. Biren, known around the world by her photographic byline, JEB.”
Michael Adams, executive director of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), gave the SAGE Advocacy Award for Excellence in Leadership in Aging Issues to Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary of Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As a federal appointee by President Obama, she played a leading role in the Administration on Aging’s decision to fund the creation of the country’s first and only National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.
Ernesto Dominguez received the Paul A. Anderson Youth Leadership Award for his activism in Portland, Ore., with CHATpdx and with Advocates for Youth. Dominguez delivered a heartfelt acceptance speech in which he talked about the trials of being out both as a gay man and undocumented. Viola Johnson received the Leather Leadership Award for serving as an activist, educator, writer, motivational speaker and author in the leather community for nearly four decades. Johnson, director and senior griot for the Carter/Johnson Library and Collection, delivered a powerful acceptance speech in which she talked about the importance of preserving our history.
The first-ever Corporate Leadership Award was presented to Showtime by Task Force Director of Institutional Gifts David Alexander to honor the company’s historic support for the LGBT community from the airing of the film As Is in 1986, one of the first films ever to address the AIDS crisis, to groundbreaking programs Queer as Folk and The L Word, to direct philanthropic support for many years to the Task Force and other LGBT organizations. The network shared a video montage, and George Debolt accepted the award on behalf of the network.
The conference ended on a high note with a performance of Love, Child… by Wilson Cruz.
We hope you join us next year for the 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Atlanta, Ga. Jan. 23-27, 2013!