This weekend, more than 2,000 lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered activists from around the country will descend on Detroit to learn, network and, well, party.
The occasion? The National LGBT Task Force is hosting its annual conference on LGBT equality, Creating Change
, at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center through Feb. 10.
Detroit was chosen as the host city for Creating Change because of the numerous strong LGBT organizations in the area, including Triangle Foundation
, the Ruth Ellis Center, the Black Pride Society
and Between the Lines.
"There are a lot of activities going on within this community," says Gabe Javier, one of four co-chairs for the Detroit host committee. "There's also the size of our community and how vibrant and diverse it is."
He says not everyone realizes what a hotbed this area is for the LGBT community. "We had the first LGBT group on a college campus (University of Michigan, 1971) and we have one of the largest black gay pride events in the nation (Hotter Than July)," he says.
Keynote speakers include Eugene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop and Julian Bond from the NAACP, who is famously quoted as saying, "Are gay rights, civil rights? Of course they are!" The workshops and academies offered to attendees run the gamut, from spirituality, media relations, fund raising, movement building, health, the youth and elderly and tons, tons more.
But Creating Change is not all work and no play. Friday night is the Awareness Ball. Javier describes the ball scene as one specifically rooted in urban queer culture. "There are different categories of competition," he says. "It's like a catwalk fashion show but much more high energy."
The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau
, using a lowball estimate of 1,500 attendees, anticipates the conference pumping more that $3.6 million in into the local economy, and welcomes the opportunity to show off Detroit to a unique audience.
"The whole concept of 'creating change' is kind of what's happening in downtown Detroit," says Carolyn Artman, the bureau's media relations manager. "We want to showcase what's new in Detroit to as many people and as diverse an audience as we can."
For more information, a complete schedule of events or to register, go to the conference's website
.Source: Gabe Javier, Creating Change Detroit host committee and Carolyn Artman, DMCVBWriter: Kelli B. Kavanuagh