Creating Change this year, as every year, had its problems. Evan Wolfson, a “prominent” leader in the movement---particularly of the marriage “equality” movement told an activist that some queers are fit to lobby while others are only fit to sing and dance. Recalling historic representations of people of color (particularly African-Americans) that are hurtful, painful, racist, and white supremacist at their core. There were again no workshops on non-monogamy and polyamory. Some young people felt that the conference was reformist and not radical enough (I agree).
But, there were some also fairly stunning moments.
To begin with, the conference was opened and closed by the Two Spirit Collective--recognizing that this conference is held (wherever it is in the U.S.) on stolen native lands. Rea Carey, demonstrating phenomenal leadership, stood in front of the conference and acknowledged that by forgetting to name bisexual people in her state of the movement address, she contributed to making them invisible. It was an omission on her part caused by nervousness as she made her first major address as executive director of the Task Force, but she recognizes the impact and did what was necessary to heal it. Thank GOD that the leaders of the late 90s radical queer youth movement are now the ones taking the reigns of leadership of our national organizations.
The speeches by Kenyon Farrow and Bishop Yvette Flunder smashed through the room and made present and visible and powerful people of African descent as leaders in this movement. The performance by The Kinsey Six Dragapella group was entertaining, political, and brilliant---as was their call to support the cultural arm of the queer movement. An arm of which, as a spoken word artist, I am a part.
And then there were the people. A surprise appearance by friend and former youth agitator M’Bwende Anderson was a deeply amazing encounter. Her daughter Ella is stunning. Reconnecting and supporting my friend Debanuj Das Gupta through a spoken word performance with Asha Leong was also a deep moment of love and solidarity in the face of our fucked up immigration system. Hanging out with Asha and driving to the mountains followed by burgers at the campy Hamburger Mary’s was also pretty awesome. Asha and I grew up in the movement together--particularly in the Southern queer youth movement, and it was nice to reconnect with her...even if it was at Buffalo Bill’s grave site and resulted in me getting altitude sickness.
Of course seeing Russell Roybal, and Marta Alvarado, and Carlos Molina, and Scott Pegues, and dozens of other people that have played real roles in building who I am, was also pretty amazing. And, it was a warm reminder that I am well known, well regarded, and loved in this movement.
I was honored to hang out with an connect with some of the fierce younger folks from Fierce that are doing the damn thing and making change happen. I danced last night at a bar packed with beautiful brown and black queer folks. I even spent a moment on the street laughing with Coya.
My one regret was that my partner, lover, and friend David was not able to be with us. I get him in Oakland this coming week, but I wanted what Ryan Li and Sara had...someone to go back to the hotel room with....lay side by side...and talk about the day, discuss what we learned, debrief our experiences, and take those moments deeper and broader. It will happen, but he was missed at this conference this weekend.
Creating Change was a good experience this year. Not perfect by any means, but I know personally and trust the leadership of NGLTF. Russell Roybal and Rea Carey are old friends, mentors, and they get it. We grew up together in this movement, and for once I know that the movement is moving in the right direction.