Creating Change will be held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center from Jan. 23 through 27 in 2019. More information its included events, speakers and programs can be found online at creatingchange.org.
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.
David Nelson Jr. currently serves as the Linkage to Care Specialist for Unified – HIV Health and Beyond. Nelson is also a member of the Southeastern Michigan HIV/AIDS Council and worked for several years on the planning committee of Hotter Than July – Detroit Black Gay Pride and served as co-chair of the Palmer Park Picnic and Annual Gathering on LGBT issues subcommittees. Nelson first starting working in the LGBT community when he worked with AIDS Partnership Michigan’s REC Boyz program, a youth empowerment and HIV prevention organization. Nelson is also a former employee of LGBT Detroit and was a part of a visibility campaign called LGBT in the D and used to promote awareness and diversity in the Detroit’s dynamic LGBT culture.
What does Creating Change mean to you?
Creating Change means exactly what the National LGBT Task Force has done with selecting the four of us as host committee co-chairs; though we do not hit all aspects, the subcommittees are arranged where you can find your space to help create change. It’s diversity coming together through all of the intersectionalities for the common goal of equitable and equal change.
What are you doing to create change in your own life?
At the current moment, I believe my daily work as a Linkage to Care Specialist for Unified HIV Health and Beyond is a space where I am creating change in my life. It might sound a little cliché, but I work where I live and live where I work. Every chance I get, I want to help someone create change in their life — whether its viral suppression or just simply finding food. Its hard work at times but I like to beat the word “NO” and give people relief. It may not be a political change, but it’s a change in a person’s mind and life.
What made you feel you had to be a co-chair?
I originally just wanted to be part of the Creating Change 2019 host committee in general. I missed the introduction meeting where people signed up to show their interest in being a part of the committee. A friend of mine was there and he put our names down. Not knowing he didn’t put the names on the subcommittee section, he put it under the co-chair section. So, once I got the phone call from Sue, former organizer, we talked and she explained everything that comes with being a co-chair and I was even more excited. I was just expecting to come to meetings and hopefully make a presence but now I’m actually able to have a big hand in Creating Change 2019. So the fact that I was not expecting to be even considered as a co-chair made me feel as if I couldn’t say no and I couldn’t mess it up if I got it.
What are you most looking forward to about Creating Change 2019?
I am mostly looking forward to all the talented Michiganders we will have doing workshops. I am excited about downtown after the holidays and seeing a rainbow on the GM building and not just in the summer for Pride. I’m looking forward to seeing some great new synergy around Detroit after this conference. Not just Detroit, through all of Michigan. This conference has the ability to not only get you informed on the whole state of Michigan but it’s going to allow us to see how we can help neighboring counties and cities and actually drive an agenda to create change.
What is your take on gay rights in the Era of No. 45? Where are we as a community and where do we need to be?
In this dark, dark time of the No. 45, the word “rights” alone doesn’t really mean anything. You put gay in front of it and its really just a term that’s used to get attention like “respect.” What we need to do as a community is get out and vote. Your vote is your voice and it is crucial that we get more involved. There is a lot happening and even after the No. 45 there is going to be a No. 46, so even if we can’t change things with Trump in office we can be prepared for the next.