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Creating Change is an annual LGBTQ conference put on by the National LGBTQ Task Force. Hosting hundreds of workshops, caucus sessions, keynote speakers and more, the more than 30-year-old event tours across the U.S., every year choosing a city in which to showcase the LGBTQ community’s local and national community. This year, Creating Change 2019 is coming to Detroit in January. In advance of the event, BTL has reached out to interview four local co-chairs who are involved in putting on this Detroit-specific event. This interview is part of that series.
Cara Mitrano is a senior undergraduate student at Wayne State University. She has been involved in LGBTQ activism since high school when she founded a Gay-Straight Alliance in her school and began volunteering with local nonprofits. At Wayne State, Mitrano has been a leader in LGBTQ student organizations and she founded the LGBT Student Advisory Board. Mitrano is also a member of the Southeastern Michigan HIV/AIDS Council and collaborates with many organizations including Planned Parenthood, Transgender Michigan, Advocates for Youth, the Gender-Identity Network Alliance and PFLAG.
What does Creating Change mean to you?
Creating Change is an opportunity for LGBT people and allies across the country and around the world to convene and build community. Not only do they create the unique short-term community during the five days of the conference, but they can use what they learn in the workshops to strengthen and improve their own communities back home.
What are you doing to create change in your own life?
As a student activist at Wayne State University, I founded the LGBT Student Advisory Board, an activism and leadership-focused LGBT student organization. We are affiliated with many community organizations and host events which empower individuals and uplift the diverse voices of Detroit’s LGBT community. During WSU’s Coming Out Week (Oct. 8 through 12), I [hosted] an LGBT Professional Development Lunch in partnership with Ally Financial and bringing Deidre D.S. Sense to campus for a workshop about self-expression through spoken word.
What made you feel you had to be a co-chair?
I have connections to many LGBTQ-specific and supportive organizations in the Detroit metro area. For example, while Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan is not LGBT-specific, it has a mission of including and centering LGBT needs in its activism and advocacy. Additionally, as a student at Wayne State University, I wanted to invite students and other representatives of the university to participate in this work. As a young person myself (21 years old), I hope to be a role model for other young people looking for ways to be involved in LGBT activism and advocacy.
What are you most looking forward to about Creating Change 2019?
I am excited for my first Creating Change! Since other locations of the conference have been far away and expensive to attend, though now I know about the many opportunities for scholarships, I have never been a part of this conference. I hope to show Creating Change 2019 attendees the amazing LGBT community in Detroit and get to know other communities across the country in future years.
What is your take on Gay Rights in the Era of #45? Where are we as a community and where do we need to be?
As always, we should be politically engaged and voting. More than ever, we also need to look out for others and uplift the voices, needs and experiences of those who are less privileged or less able to advocate for themselves. For example, I am an ally to non-white communities in Detroit by listening to their struggles, offering resources and including or centering their voices in my work. Creating Change 2019 will give a platform to the many diverse voices within our community and allow attendees to develop necessary skills to organize and advocate for those who need it the most.