Hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force, the annual Creating Change Conference has been visiting cities across the U.S. for over 30 years now. It’s an event with a focus on leadership and skills-building for the LGBTQ community, presenting a variety of programs, presentations, speakers and more over the course of several days each year. And though the 31st annual event is scheduled to visit Detroit in late January of 2019, those who are eager to attend Creating Change next year can look forward to a smaller preview event called Queering Racial Justice.
“This event emerged for us as a way of holding space for the conversations that are needed in the LGBTQ space, as well as in (a) POC (people of color) space,” said Evangeline Weiss, the Leadership Programs Director for the Task Force. “In racial justice work, we often talk about de-centering whiteness and one way to do that is for white people to show up, listen and learn. Everyone is welcome to attend the event. The 16 or so breakout sessions will be led for the most part by queer and trans folks of color, lifting up the wisdom and the concerns that are presently holding space in queer and people of color spaces.”
The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 8 to 6 p.m. at the Wayne State University Student Center in Detroit.Weiss said that event will be not unlike Creating Change in terms of the variety of programming available to attendees.
“Workshop topics range from sex work, healing, facilitation, HIV and respectability politics, to storytelling and masculine of center women,” she said.
The Task Force’s Leadership Programs Manager Daniel Moberg added that the event, in addition to highlighting the experience of LGBTQ people of color, will also serve to clear up misconceptions about racism and existing biases within the LGBTQ community itself, too. For instance, the concept that the struggle of someone who is LGBTQ is exactly the same as that of a person of color.
“As a biracial, light-skinned Latino/white person — and gay, cisgender ally — one of the dynamics I’ve seen perpetuated in predominantly white, gay communities is this idea that somehow being gay means one is oppressed in the same way as people of color — LGBTQ people of color and otherwise,” Moberg said. “In other words, somehow being white and LGBTQ exempts one from racism. Think: ‘My struggle is your struggle,’ or recall T-shirts and stickers and slogans that gained popularity at the height of the movement for marriage rights: ‘Gay is the new Black.'”
This year, Moberg said that he is especially excited to expand on the success of the last two QRJ events.
“QRJ really sets out to be a space in which members of the local community are able to come together, share stories and learn from one another,” he said. “In particular, we’ll learn what it looks like for you, your neighbors, friends and colleagues to confront racism in daily life. As well, how that experience intersects with what it means to also be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer. We are hopeful September’s event will reflect this vision even more deeply than before.”
More information about QRJ can be found online at creatingchange.org/qrj/. Below is a list of some QRJ’s confirmed events.
Editor’s Note: Event 15, WoMan: Film CLips from Masculine of Center presented by Sharron Fincher, is sponsored by Between The Lines:
1. Ace + Race: Understanding Asexuality and Unique Challenges in the Black Asexual Community – Cara Mitrano, Wayne State University and Delma Jackson III, Patient Navigator at Wellness Services and a faculty member at the Center for Whole Communities.
2. QTPOC Yoga for All Levels – Amanda Niven
3. Human Trafficking and LGBTQIA2S At-Risk Youth – Bridie Johnson, American Indian Health and Family Services, Behavioral Health Clinical Supervisor
4. What’s Going On Detroit? Leadership & Capacity Building for Racial Justice on a Grassroots Level – Chunnika L. Hodges, Detroit Affiliate Chapter Program Coordinator of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, INC
5. We Are Here, We Are Queer, We Are of Color and We Want a Sit at the Racial Justice Table! – Detroit REPRESENT! Media Collective Didi Adi
6. The Truths & Lies They Tell, The Secrets We Keep – Alia Onawola and Ka’Juan Hill, UNIFIED- HIV Health and Beyond, Michigan HIV/STD Hotline
7. Is Your God a White Racist? Detaching LGBTQ Faith From White Supremacy – Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Faith Work Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
8. Queering Reproductive Justice 101 – Candace Bond-Theriault, Esq., LL.M. Senior Policy Counsel, Reproductive Health, Rights & Justice
9. Democracy Project Director – National LGBTQ Task Force.
10. White People Unmasking Collusion – Lis Parr McCullen, Mel Braman and Evangeline Weiss
11. Crafting QTBIPOC Power Fantasies for Healing the Trauma of Oppression – Lance Hicks, Detroit REPRESENTS!
12. Heaven On Earth: Holistic Healing for Hoes – Amira Baladi, Sacred Stripper, Founder
13. Strategies and Practice for Anti-Oppressive Facilitation – Marky Carrillo, Detroit REPRESENTS!
14. Healing by Choice – Violeta Donawa and Rhiannon Chester
15. WoMan: Film Clips from Masculine of Center – Sharron Fincher
16. Dress to Impress (Yourself): Unpacking the Intersections of LGBTQ Identity and Respectability in the Workplace – Lilianna Reyes, Affirmations and Trans Woman of Color Collective