By Nathan Strickland
I had the opportunity to attend the 27th Annual National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Denver, Colorado. It was my first time attending a conference, let alone on a national scale, and representing the non-profit organization KICK. The mission was simple: represent the organization in a positive manner and gather information to take back to Detroit. While the mission was completed, I realized that there was something more pertinent that I had to do before I could even complete the desired tasks. What I have come to realize is that it is all about building and sustaining positive relationships with the people I met.
There were many workshops and interpersonal moments that I had which supported my theory around “relationships first, tasks second.” The most insightful moment came during the “Building Interracial Alliances” workshop. I took away that the most important obligation is to foster authentic connections in order to find a sense of solidarity. While full cultural competency is an ongoing process, “cultural humility” is a great way to start. As KICK ventures forward to its next stage as LGBT Detroit, we start the beginning steps of showing Detroit, and America, what it is like to live and relate with people authentically. As it is our mission to support and bring awareness around Detroit’s dynamic LGBT culture, LGBT Detroit looks to foster community and understanding to its constituents.
Bottom line: a goal is always needed, but the relationship is the first and key step to reaching that aim. My time at Creating Change is witness to this testimony. As I have learned and beared witness to insightful information, I too have started relationships that I will carry for a lifetime. I heard that Portland, Ore. has the motto, “Keep Portland Weird.” I would like to revamp that motto to fit the dream LGBT Detroit has for its city: “Keep Detroit Real”!