Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Creating Change 2005

At one point I must have looked forward to attending the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change conference which takes place anually (this year in Oakland). But it took me so long to be able to confirm my ability to attend that I was not able to prepare a presentation on "The Impact of the Canada, Massachussetts and Spain same-sex rulings on Latin America" until I got there. This meant that I actually mised most of the workshops on Thursday and Friday and was only able to fully participate on Saturday, before leaving for (or coming to?) San Diego later that day.

The presentation, part of a workshop on "Latino Media and Same-Sex Marriage," was put together by Monica Taher of GLAAD and also included the great Eddie Gutierrez from Equality California as a panelist.

Monica and I are members of the National Latino Coalition for Justice - NLCJ (which advocates for the right of same-sex couples to marry from a Latino perspective) and "Sigamos Adelente" (an effort to launch a national Latino LGBT organizing entity in the wake of the National Latino LGBT Organization's implosion last year). There were opportunities to meet with other members of each of the organizing efforts and to achive quite a lot, despite the limited time.

Key among these (see photo above) was an informal but powerful meeting between members of the NLCJ and Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California, which hopefully will translate into increasing participation and input by Latinos into the agency's marriage strategy in California.

Also powerful, the Saturday plenary at which long-time activists John D'Emilio and Urvashi Vaid explored the question of what is wrong and what is right with the LGBT movement (the Task Force told me that they will most probably publish the exchange, in essay from, at a later date).

Most powerful, at least to me, were a couple of workshops on a similar theme: "It's About Gay Sex: Strategies for Working with a Radical Right Obsessed with Gay Sex Prectices" and "Talking About Sex in Communities of Color." I have long argued that what ails the LGBT community is the fact that our sexuality or the sex we have is still seen as being an illness, a sin, or plain wrong, and that this leads us to undermine our self-worth to the pont where it becomes difficult to enjoy who we are. Both workshops delved deeply into how LGBT sexuality is handled by media as well as by our own communities and, in the second workshop, how we as people of color face our own specific issues about sex. They both made for thought-provoking, scorching, deeply personal and revelatory exchanges that I will not soon forget. I wish there were more opportunities to explore these issues, not only at Creating Change, but in our home-towns and cities.

All in all, though, I wish I could have focused more on the conference and not necessarily spent so much time preparing for the workshop. As it was I felt a little out of the whole thing and not necessarily able to connect fully with it.

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