The National Conference on LGBT Equality – the mecca of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) gatherings within the United States. Each year, this annual conference travels to a major U.S. city to host thousands of LGBTQ members and their allies. The conference hold an abundance of workshops and events for attendees of all ages and identities, and features notable speakers such as Laverne Cox from “Orange is the New Black” who spoke last year. She is a fantastic woman!
I attended the conference last year, and the experience was fantastic. I learned so much, met so many new people and could almost breathe in the queerness. The atmosphere of the community is something that cannot be explained, and I hope to visit the conference again in the future. To give you another perspective on this experience, we have a post-conference essay written by a fellow attendee, sophomore Michael James. James’ reflection gives you a sense of just how emotionally impactful this event can be:
“WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! Dayyyyyyymmm! It was so great! Never before and perhaps never again will I be surrounded by so many LGBTQ (insert the rest of the alphabet here) people. The sense of camaraderie and acceptance was amazing. Just seeing someone walking with their I.D. card on the pink lanyard, I felt surrounded by family. Everyone was trying to help build community and really striving to understand each other, which was just beautiful. The amount of wonderfully random elevator conversations and chats I had was unreal! I met and connected with tons of people from a range of different ages, many of whom with which I hope to stay in contact.
“One of my major ‘takeaways’ was the understanding of the term intersectionality. I’ve always believed everyone was unique and special, but I’ve never had such a great way of articulating it. As one of the speakers said, ‘Now that I have the information, it seems so blatantly obvious, but before I just couldn’t have explained it.’ The myriad of identities we hold, the titles we use and what they mean to us are just so complex. Now more than ever, I am convinced that trying to categorize people into boxes and putting labels on them is a waste of time.
“Another concept I had previously held sacrosanct was monogamy. I never really considered dating two people acceptable or even possible, and now I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s a bit of the idea of dating being more flexible. I’m still not sure where I am on the issue, but I know that the firm premise I held before has now been interestingly questioned, and I look forward to further introspection on the topic.
“The third major takeaway I gained is a greater understanding of the variance within the LGBTQ society. I met a TON of different people who identified in all kinds of ways I had never thought of before. I was challenged to become more aware of how I think and act with a bias towards a sexual binary. One aspect of inclusion that I really need to work on is my use of pronouns. I hate feeling like I’m going to offend someone or mess things up, and it makes me edgy. But only through allowing myself to make mistakes and making a concerted effort not to repeat them can I learn, grow and be more respectful and inclusive to everyone I meet.”
If interested in attending the conference, contact LGBTQ Initiatives. Financial assistance is available.