Thousands of LGBTQ progressives and allies will gather in Detroit, Michigan for the 31st Creating Change Conference from Wednesday, January 23 through Sunday, January 27 at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.
The Creating Change Conference, run by the National LGBTQ Task Force, is the foremost political, leadership, and skills-building conference for the LGBTQ social justice movement. Since 1988, Creating Change has created opportunities for many thousands of committed people to develop and hone their activist skills, build community, and inspire.
This will be the first Creating Change Conference managed by Andy Garcia, who succeeded Sue Hyde last spring as conference director. Garcia stated that, for this year, he wanted to bring a strong focus to the local community that hosts Creating Change, “I think it is important to lift up the voices of the queer and trans activists of Detroit, who are working to fight for social justice, end police violence, and call out racism. Creating Change is a place for the queer left to come together to learn and connect with each other and strives to ensure a welcoming space for queer and trans people of color.”
The primary goal of the Creating Change Conference is to build the LGBTQ movement’s political power from the ground up to secure our overarching goal of full freedom, justice, and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in the United States.
The conference’s opening plenary, titled “Welcome to Detroit: Revive, Thrive, Decolonize” on Thursday, January 24 at 8:00 pm, is focused on the history of Detroit and Michigan. It is a land that is the home of the Anishinaabe people. It is the state with the first and second cities in the country to pass LGBTQ non-discrimination protections. It is the land of Motown, a city with a rich Black history. The plenary examines the history of Detroit and Michigan and also the problems the city faces, today from gentrification to the struggles of working class people in the automobile industry and what activists can do to lift up the voices of Detroit.
The opening plenary will be moderated by Michelle Brown and include Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Cynthia Thornton, president of Pride at Work Michigan, Cecelia LaPointe, founder of the Native Justice Coalition, and Anthony Weeks who shall serve as facilitator.
Creating Change will have a plenary on the importance of the #MeToo movement on Saturday, January 26 at 1:30 pm, titled Movement Moments: #metoo. This plenary will feature nationally recognized survivor activists including award-winning Black feminist lesbian independent documentary filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons and Bamby Salcedo, president and CEO of The TransLatin@ Coalition.
The closing plenary brunch on Sunday, January 27 at 11:30 am is a time for us, as we resist and persist in this oppressive political landscape, to remember that the 4th estate, a free press, is indispensable – so too is the full support of the arts.
Speakers include Peter Bhatia, a multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning editor and vice president of the Detroit Free Press. As well as Deidre D.S.SENSE Smith D.S., the founder of the brand, the initiative, and the movement “On My Detroit Everything.”
The closing plenary MC is Mimi Gonzalez.Gonzalez has been rocking the mic nationally from Prides to protests for almost 20 years. She is an out, loud, proud Latina who believes in radical inclusion, being a better ally and holding sacred our beloved LGBTQ family.
Task Force Presents Workshops
Creating Change has over 300 workshops. Created by the Task Force staff, the Task Force Presents workshops include:
“Not My President, Organizing For Change.” Presented by the Task Force’s Camden Hargrove and Shanequa Davis. The workshop will be centered around what the LGBTQ community can do to stop Donald Trump, who is doing everything he can to destroy the rights our people have fought for.
“Hack the Law: The Advocate’s Toolbox.” Presented by Meghan Maury, policy director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, Tyrone Hanley of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Sharita Gruberg, of the Center for American Progress. The session will explore the strategies the LGBTQ community can employ, from legislation and litigation to policy and organizing, to advance our goals.
“The Hate Groups That Want To Take Your Rights Away.” Presented by the Task Force’s Alex Morash and Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, with Zack Ford, of ThinkProgress, and Brennan Suen of Media Matters for America. The workshop will look at anti-LGBTQ hate groups, including Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council, and how they are trying to take our rights away, mask their behavior, and what the LGBTQ community can do to stop them.
“Queer & Trans People of Color: Let’s Get Our Money $$.” A workshop by the Task Force’s Candace Bond-Theriault. Queer and trans people of color are more likely to be poor and not accumulate wealth. This workshop is designed to help people of color increase their financial literacy and ways to negotiate higher wages.
“Roadmap for Inclusive Sex Education.” Presented by the Task Force’s Taissa Morimoto and Jennifer Driver, of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS). A workshop for participants to identify their current sex education policy, evaluate whether the policy is supportive or harmful to LGBTQ youth, and develop an advocacy strategy to improve or enhance their state or community sex education policy.
Other notable workshops at Creating Change put on by other organizations include Moving the Equality Act Forward with Ian Thompson of the ACLU and Diego Sanchez of PFLAG; OUT Millennial Elected Officials: Driving Equality Across America with Reggie Greer, Victory Institute; and Art For Social Change — Using Creativity and Performance to relay a message and change society by Yuval David from the television show Madam Secretary.
Cornelius Wilson will be receiving the SAGE Advocacy Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues. His organizing regarding HIV began in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic and he currently serves on the board for the Detroit planning body of the Southeast Michigan HIV/AIDS Council. Pride Source Media Group co-publishers Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz Susan Horowitz will be receiving the Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement that is sponsored by the Wild Geese Foundation. Pride Source Media Group is the publisher of Michigan’s LGBTQ newspaper Between the Lines, The Pride Source Magazine, and PrideSource.com.
International Pronouns Day will receive a 2019 Special Recognition by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and asking personal pronouns commonplace. The inaugural event took place on October 17, 2018, and had registrants from over 25 countries and was endorsed by over 400 organizations.
The Haas, Jr. Award for Outstanding LGBTQ Leadership for Immigrant Rights will be given to Jonathan Jayes Green, one of the cofounders and director of UndocuBlack Network (UBN), a multigenerational network of Black undocumented immigrants organizing their own communities and building power.
Shane Shananaquet shall receive the Youth Leadership Award. Shananaquet is a member of the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health’s (MOASH) youth advisory council and a youth ambassador for the Tyler Clementi Foundation and founded March for Our Lives Lenawee, a sibling chapter of the National March for Our Lives movement.
The Leather Leadership Award will be presented to Daddy Peter Fiske. A Leatherman for 54 years and counting, Fisk came out in New York City in 1964 and spent many nights at the Stonewall Inn, where he was present during three raids by the police. In 2017, Daddy Peter Fiske was inducted into the Leather Hall of Fame at Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend.
Press are invited to the conference, and press credentials are given out as space provides. Press need to register via the credentials request form. Confirmation of credentials will be considered on a rolling basis and as space allows.