Greetings from Creating Change!
I’m spending the weekend in Minneapolis with my friends from UNO Gender and Sexual Orientation, attending the Creating Change conference. We left moderately early this (Friday) morning and arrived in Minneapolis at about 3:30, hitting the hotel an hour later. If you think Omaha roads are bad, try the utter confusion of Minneapolis highways at rush hour. Two commuter lanes, multiple exits branching off at once, dangerous merging maneuvers, and no road shoulders! I was so scared, and I wasn’t even driving.
We arrived in the middle of a session, so I spent some time browsing booths and collecting swag, tailed by Josh, who after driving was in his words “totally shut down.” Walking around, I saw the unmistakable pink pixie-hair of Jac Stringer (Midwest GenderQueer)! I attended his excellent Trans 101 panel at last year’s MBLGTACC (check out this year’s upcoming conference in Ann Arbor), but I don’t really know him so I didn’t rush up with my camera or anything. It was still cool.
Atheist/skeptic readers, and hopefully readers in general, will be pleased to know that Americans United for Separation of Church and State had a booth. I grabbed brochures and promised to put UNO’s Secular Student Alliance in touch with AU. Despite what you may think, many religious people are involved in AU (their director is the Rev. Barry Lynn), practicing what they preach about tolerance by keeping religion out of government and untainted by government involvement.
Just across the aisle was Dignity USA, the Catholic group “celebrating the wholeness and holiness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics.” One of their brochures addresses common questions such as how to interpret the Bible verses deemed relevant to homosexuality, the church’s position on homosexuality and homosexuals, and so forth; the text can be found online too! I also found literature from Fortunate Families, a support network for Catholic parents of LGBT children.
The last order of business for the night was attending a one-hour caucus of college student organizers, where we split off into groups to brainstorm about specific topics. I and the other Omahans asked a lot of questions about recruiting, retention, and getting people motivated to move beyond just socializing to activism, too. Among the notes I jotted down after the caucus and a delicious Thai stir-fry:
- Host high-visibility events, and involve other groups with intersecting interests (like the women’s and multicultural centers)
- Use fliers and ads that target specific groups who are currently underrepresented: specifically inviting lesbians to join, for example
- Create an environment where members aren’t assumed to be queer, if they are or need to identify as allies for now
- Set concrete goals (for the month, semester, year) and take small steps so the group is confident the goals can be accomplished
- Have some activities that require minimal involvement: if people don’t want to organize a protest, they can still wave signs
The morning is just a few hours away, so I’ll close for tonight by quoting a sticker I bought at the Unitarian Universalists’ booth:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.