Waymon Hudson

Creating Change, Day 2: Issues, Issues, Issues!

Filed By Waymon Hudson | January 29, 2009 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Creating Change conference, Denver

The second day of the Creating Change Conference in Denver has been packed full of amazing sessions and discussions. The toughest part about today was choosing where to go, since all the topics were so important and interesting.

CIMG1343.JPGI popped in most of the sessions, but really got drawn into the "Invisible Families: LGBTQ Families at the intersection of Race, Class, and Gender" institute. As a parent, it was a truly amazing experience to sit in a room full of dedicated family advocates and discuss our experiences and how to improve the family movement.

The session included things ranging from the media stereotyping of LGBTQ families (white, rich people) to statistics and raw data on the diversity of our community's families. We also had the opportunity to talk about the economic disparity in our families, the lack of resources, poverty, and other issues dealing with race and class that effect LGBTQ families.

Some of the other AMAZING sessions that were held today included:

The Sexual Freedom and Sexual Literacy Institute - this dealt with some great topics like sexual freedom, queer bodies, liberation, and refreshing the national dialogue around sex and sexuality.

The Community Center Institute - a session for community center staff, board members and volunteers.

Passing a Fully Inclusive ENDA - this covered strategies of coalition building, outreach, education, and many other tools needed to make sure a fully inclusive ENDA is passed. Some great discussions and ideas were formulated that will really make the movement stronger as we move ahead.

Queer Youth Institutes - sessions ranged from creating safe youth spaces to tools for young leaders and campus organizing. Seeing a new generation of activists ready to push forward was truly amazing.

The 2009 Marriage Landscape - discussing where the marriage movement is going and how to use new tools and technology to accomplish those goals.

Aging: How We Can Create Change in Our Own Backyard - a session from SAGE and other organizations discussing the intersection of aging and LGBTQ issues.

And many, many more.

As you can see, the challenge today was to choose where to go and soak in the knowledge and dialogue! Seeing leaders from around the country talk about their areas of expertise and hearing the discussion on how to improve these parts of our overall movement was really amazing.

All that and there's still more planned for tonight!

Be sure to check back for more coverage of Creating Change!

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This is a very positive toned article, so I don't want to be a stick in the porridge, but: (I guess I'm going to.)

You said:

...talk about the economic disparity in our families, the lack of resources, poverty, and other issues dealing with race and class that effect LGBTQ families.

The struggling frontline agencies that actually help these people in hundreds of towns across this continent are underfunded and overworked. Enthusiasm surrounding more rhetoric is not going to cheer up anyone's day.

I volunteer at an NGO that serves those living with and at the greatest risk of acquiring HIV / AIDS and/or HVC. People who have difficulty obtaining services elsewhere, especially due to substance use, mental illness, sexual orientation, gender identity, race and ethnicity, and/or other social barriers.

I'm finding articles and blogs everywhere that describe trips to 'The Inauguration', great workshops such as those you describe - there is no shortage of people urging, teaching, lobbying etc.

I know I certainly can't afford a quick jaunt over to the Prez Inauguration or to attend workshops to heighten my knowlege, awareness and capability. I'm scraping together money for my next round of electrolysis sessions in between grocery shopping for two boys. It seems that everyone I look to for transpolitical interpretations are so out of my league, in every way.

I'm only scraping the surface, I'm not talking about HRC or any higher level organization. I mean all the popular, well known 'activists' who are blogging, writing and publishing books, flying everywhere to give lectures to more people who are writing blogs and flying in to hear them talk. Sure, I know - they all 'paid their dues', worked their asses off etc., and now they are in the position to be 'the interpreters'. Yet to me, the lgbtq movement is controlled by an elite - complete with a standard pyramid structure, within which exists an minority which blithely avoids interactions with lower classes, like a new world order lgbtq caste.

I'm sorry, because I know I could easily get chewed out for this (or simply ignored), but I believe we should be thinking, listening, writing, reacting and dreaming more wholistically.

We need workshops that are accessible to everyone, with no exclusion for any reason - bringing everyone together, forming unity amongst transgender people around the continent (or world - dream, dream, dream) should be forefront. What we have is a divisionary tone of language, exclusions, elitism, a continuous proliferation of groups that function in hierarchical patriarchal settings. There's really only a handful of transactivist women who seem to be compassionate and live at ground level. I know that the vast majority of trangendered people are not even interacting online, because the way things are set up - the lower end of the pyramid fades into the background - and that's where all the numbers are - AND those are the people I want to somehow connect with. Those people don't have degrees, they don't have access, and the ones who are driven to desperation and tragedy, are the ones that all the bloggers use to 'make their points'. This isn't humane journalism - it's just an intellectual form of ambulance chasing.

I hope I can encourage people in the journalistic / political arena of the lgbtq sector to consider similarities, detente, compassion, perhaps even liking and loving people rather than asessing their viewpoints and moving on. We are involved in a bloodless, spiritless pool of data - and we are turning against each other as our compassion weakens and our perceptions narrow.

I want to research this idea and try to write something about it in a post form, because what I believe in is: a level, wholistic playing field for all of us. I dream that people who are outside the circle of lgbtq could one day look in and see us all truly caring and loving each other, instead of trying to prove that we are the 'one'.

..did anybody read this far? :)

I completely understand what you are saying, Brielle, and perhaps I didn't express myself clearly in the post (I'm trying to write entries between sessions and such).

yes there was talk and discussion, but it was a real effort to have pass along information about what worked in other groups and cities, not just spout a bunch of rhetoric. I hit on the broad topics we discussed only because there was so much information (tools, ideas, action plans, coalition building), that it would never have fit in a post.

As for the elite idea, yes, that is a factor. But that's been one of the great things about this conference- there are people from every age and background. The people here are the ones from the small groups like you speak of, the front line folks, who have been given help to attend (like me). It is literally the grassroots here. It may be organized and sponsored by large orgs, but the people and attendees are the ground forces.

Hopefully the lessons and tools they learn can be taken back to their communities to share with those that couldn't attend.

Basically it boils down to talking is part of training and training leads to stronger and better action.

Wow, that was like a whole 'nother post! :)

Everyday Transperson | January 30, 2009 2:42 PM

Mr. Hudson,

Yes, thats all well and fine, but doesn't the heart of grassroots organizing lie in groups of community folks (from all walks, even the ones we may disagree with) getting together in a casual way to gather ideas and perhaps launch projects ???

Time after time I hear the repetition of textbook corporate terms like "target market", "tools", "action plan" etc..... to describe how these events are "training" everyone, all based on some "proven" corporate or consultant model !!!

This is a community for crying out loud, not a corporation !!! I think when we start abandoning these "proven models" then perhaps we can get back to being a united community again without elitism and classism and certainly without the corporate brainwashing.............

I don't disagree with you at all. But the difference that I see (as a first time attendee to this conference who has gone to other similar ones that have the problem you describe) is that while this event does have "corporate sponsors", the sessions are lead by the front line, grassroots folks. It's not "the focus group says this works", it's "I live and breathe this everyday and this is what has worked on the ground and in reality."

It is really refreshing to have that kind of interaction rather than just a nice power point presentation with no real substance or value for the folks doing the work.

Thanks for helping me find a way to more fully express my impressions of what this conference has been!

steve tabarez | January 30, 2009 3:35 PM

As Latino, am heartened 2 c u felt u learned alot about race and class problems in our community. I sense some of the awe and feelings of the epiphany u must have gotten. That said, mayb part of the problem here is in tryn to synthesize as u "power point" to us without context or thoughtful consideration of wot u needed 2 process and ponder wot u saw, heard, learned. A big undertaking, considering our im, twittering, and instant streams age. Mayb u can do a deeper series here laying out the significance and implications of wot went on. Mayb comments here can be way 2 formulte it. STEVE

Great point, Steve. I'm actually just trying to give a brief overview while I'm in the middle of all the sessions, and then plan on writing a longer, more detailed post about the actual experience once I've had some time to digest it.

Everyday Transperson | January 30, 2009 3:52 PM

Mr. Hudson,

I'd like to delve a bit deeper on this issue if I may....

I think the point that both myself and perhaps others are trying to raise is of all the people in the community to speak /lead at these events from personal experience, then why are the same old names and faces chosen over and over again to be the poster children for "frontline grassroots" when many do not know a thing about the "frontline" experience that many of us face ??? Are these speakers /leaders homeless ?? Jobless ?? Blatantly kept out of volunteering or activism ??? I didn't think so......

So, why are these "favorites" constantly chosen by elitist non-profit groups to speak, while others with stories more tragic are never even asked to participate ??? And how are these "grassroots" representatives any greater or more important on the human scale then say a trans woman on the street who has to resort to prostitution so that she can pay for her hormones every month, or an AIDS person who can't get access to medical care and will eventually die all while watching their AIDS organizations living it up at Black Tie ??? And last but not least, what about those GLBT employees who have been disenfranchised and horribly sold out at their companies by GLBT "activists" resulting in loss of jobs and poverty, why aren't they there to speak to hold those involved along with their non-profits accountable........... And why don't the "activists" who know what is going on speak out against this to the very people who are doing this ???

So Mr. Hudson, I am not trying to be sarcastic here because I am only trying to offer a different perspective from the other side of the tracks, but I don't buy for a minute that these session leaders' experiences speak for the rest of us in the community. As was previously mentioned, the ability to be given airline tickets and stay at fancy hotels doesn't qualify people to speak from the "fronline" experience. Someone who walked to the conference with worn shoes and nothing but a bag of clothes and a scar on their heart would have been more realistic as to the frontline experience............. Unfortunately, that isn't the image that our GLBT non-profits want to project, especially if it involves fundraising. In the popular opinion, "that model doesn't work"............

Again, a different perspective to think about.

I really appreciate the issues you are bringing up and completely agree. My point wasn't to say that the speakers represented fully the community and those most affected by injustice. My only point was that compared to other similar things I have attended, the speakers were more everyday folks, rather than the corporate types that seem to dominate other events.

I think the points raised by you and Charles about the expensive hotel, costs for flights, food, etc are a huge issue and need to be addressed.

What it boils to down to for me is that while this may not be perfect in every aspect like the ones you discussed, I have noticed a marked difference and improvement over other such events. That's what has made an impact on me- I guess I can see the movement away from the centralized power structure that we have been stuck in. Are we there? Heck no, but this seems to be a step in the right direction.

Thanks for really bringing up your viewpoint. It is really making me process the experience differently and hopefully more fully.

And feel free to call me Waymon! :)

"caring and loving each other" That's the mantra of community service. I don't have anything brilliant to say other than I hear you and and understand where you're coming from.

Everyday Transperson | January 30, 2009 2:25 PM


This is what I have been arguing about all along and as you clearly illustrated in your point, people like me get pushed to the side or attacked by the "elitists" for speaking up about it.

I do believe that the greater community will one day soon wake up and see what is really happening rather than what the elitists want everyone to believe....

The toughest part about today was choosing where to go, since all the topic where so important and interesting.

topic(s) were

You should come on board as a copy checker. :)


Thanks for the response Waymon.

It does bring things into a more realistic sense for me. I just feel that the kind of exchanges you are witnessing should somehow be integrated to the web. I think that if (as an entire lgbtq network - somehow!) we made a pool of contacts who had varying fields and degrees of expertise, and made them available to individuals for one-on-one contact - the wave would be unquestionably more real than the kind of duplication in rhetoric which now exists. I am just making that up as a quick suggestion for a new model right now. There must be other ways, other models, which will produce the unity and strength in this movement that everyone wants.

I'm just dreaming hard and out loud.
thanks again

I think that live web streaming is a great idea. We certainly have the technology to do interactive web sessions (although that too could disadvantage some that don't have access to the internet). However, it would be a huge step to opening it up to more people.

That is a great idea I'll be happy to really bring up and push here.

And we have to dream and push hard, B, otherwise nothing every happens and we never move forward.

Thanks for the thought provoking comments!

steve tabarez | January 30, 2009 1:08 AM

I too feel that classism and elitism is ravaging the movement, for lack of a better term. Seems that too much intellectualizing, and philosophizing, along with activist bloggers being more concerned with technological aspects and gadgets, and techniques instead of working for funding and recruiting of volunteers for the agencies who deal with the carrying out and tending to those who need care and shelter. Add to that those who seem to be involved in the cause more for self-promotion or looks good on their resume', and provides for the right connections politically. Too, it seems that activism is now so unbecoming. So, "Pre-" POST-PARTISAN. So much more evolved gathering at internet cafes and bistros. All while our rights have not progessed much since the times of Harvey Milk. And, yes, race and class have alot to do with that. It's fashionable to be principled pragmatists now. An organizer, not an activist. Hopefully, the conference will help us find our way.

It's one of the reasons I love that conference. When you have such plentiful and wonderful seminar topics that you're agonizing over which ones to attend if they stat at the same time, you know you're at a powerhouse event.

so true, Monica. today I wish there were 40 of me so I could go to all the sessions! :)

One of the local GLBT orgs here in Louisville used to send several weren't primarily local activist on the organizations dime to Creating Change provided they agreed to report on what they witnessed and shared it at a community post Creating Change meeting.

Perhaps. you should check with your local GLBT org and see if they're doing a similar program for next year's event.

Sorry, but I'm skeptical. I remember that the activist community trashed anyone calling for sexual responsibility 25 years ago. It took them twenty years to even admit we had a point, while gay men dropped all around us. I don't know if I can ever forgive that.
They have never confronted our culture's biggest problems: bigotry, objectification, ageism, sexism, and internalized homophobia. Instead we hear tepid abstractions on 'sexual freedom' and 'the intersection of ageing'. Please. Sexual freedom is not a problem. Or rather, it is a problem, but not in the way they think. And seriously confronting ageism and bigotry in the community would make the activists look bad, which they have never risked.

steve tabarez | January 30, 2009 9:29 AM

Was wondering if you've run into any groups from MI, there? Thanks for the coveage. Been following on twitter. Appreciate your hard work. STEVE

I ave indeed! I've run into the leadership (I believe the new Ex Dir) of the Triangle Foundation. I've also met a number of MI college students and campus organizers. It's been a good Michigander showing!

Media sterotyping us a rich white people? Perhaps that may be true in the future but not now with people flying in to stay at Hyatt Grand, a hotel with 513 elegant guestrooms with city views / 37" flat screen television set Plush Hyatt Grand BedTM / iHome stereo with iPod dock Generous work stations / walk-in closets Luxurious bath with massaging showerhead and pampering amenitiesIs.

My message above is not clear. Many are rich and white. The media compares us to the Black civil rights movement of the 60's. I am not being critical of the conference but would Rosa Parks be checking into an upscale Hyatt hotel for a civil rights workshop, certainly not in the early years of the civil rights struggle when she refused to move to the back of the bus. The media has reason to think the way they do.

Anthony in Nashville | January 30, 2009 5:58 PM

Excellent points!

I think gay marketers and businesspeople adopted the "rich gay" archetype in the 90s to pitch their products to straight people. I also think it is was part of an effort to make gay people accept their lower social status through the idea that we all could live fabulously.

I agree that like most civil rights movements, the gay struggle has been overly influenced by corporate-styled thinking for the last 20 years or so. I won't lie and say I'd refuse a trip to Creating Change if someone was willing to send me, but I do think it's funny that there seems to be more willingness to have these grand meetings or try to raise another $40 million for California gay marriage instead of people working on a local level with regular people.

There's an article in (I think) East Bay Area Review about how a lot of large gay community centers are worried about their budget because those corporate sponsors and grants are not being renewed. Meanwhile, centers that depend on more volunteer staffing and outreach aren't expecting to be as affected. It's just something to consider.

Those are great points as well, Anthony. One thing that really struck me in one of my conversations here was the idea changing our movement from the corporate grant model to a community-owned movement.

The quote bouncing around that I love is: "If millions of people give one dollar, you have a movement. If 100 people give million dollars you have the stock market."

steve tabarez | January 30, 2009 6:03 PM

EVERYDAY TRANNY- SWEETIE, you make my heart cry, and my soul ache. For wot u say is so true. AS a latin man that lived and saw so many things, and have lived and felt the bias and discrimination as well as the tragedies that result, I feel ur anger. CUZ, I feel it too. Our own community tends to be worse sumtimes. And that enrages me. And, I feel the same about how the elitist and insulated natures of those in power at orgs. and activist blogs.Read my earlier comments. Yet, don't let hurt and anger deter u or blind u to the fact that there are those who care 2 learn, 2 c, and 2 change the injustices. Too, think about wot u can do to help ppl c. Today u began doing that. Waymon I c is listening. Think about wot u can do next. I kno u have in u. I kno I do 2. So wot r we gonna do now? PEACE, AND LOVE. STEVE