Change-makers assembled for Atlanta conference

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Deepak Bhargava opened the conference. - PHOTO: NGLTF

Activists from across the country are gathered in Atlanta for a premier event – Creating Change, the 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality.

More than 3,000 advocates for LGBT civil rights – including leaders from Wisconsin such as Jason Burns of Equality Wisconsin and Katie Belanger of Fair Wisconsin – are assembled at the Hilton in downtown Atlanta. The conference began on Jan. 23 and was to continue through Jan. 27 at the hotel, which was sold out weeks in advance.

On Jan. 25, the president addressed the conference in a video message.

The conference also includes daylong institutes exploring racial injustice, advancing transgender civil rights, encouraging activism and advocacy for the aging LGBT population, promoting school safety, funding the movement and strengthening alliances.

Other Creating Change traditions include training programs, such as a session on improving social media skills; lots of entertainment, including drag shows and dances; workshops, at least 350 according to the agenda; and speeches, specifically a State of the Movement address by Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which organizes the conference.

Carey says the movement has “turned a corner and we're not going back.”

And the success is in part due to the work that has taken place at Creating Change, she says. “Twenty-five years of mobilizing, strategizing and yes, celebrating our right to love and be ourselves.”

The first Creating Change took place in 1988 in Washington, D.C.

Milwaukee hosted the conference in November 2001, with then-U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin delivering a keynote address that was followed by a speak-out on “how can our movement be more powerful.”

About 2,500 people attended the conference in Milwaukee, which that year was ranked the No. 1 city for lesbians to reside in by Girlfriends magazine.

On the Web…

Parts of the Creating Change are being streamed on the Web: