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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights: National LGBTQ Task Force holds first virtual Creating Change conference


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National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Kierra Johnson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The
33rd annual Creating Change conference hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force
held its events virtually over the weekend for the first time due to the
pandemic.

The country’s
largest LGBTQ activist conference brought participants from across the U.S. to
connect and share knowledge, skills and mutual dedication to ensuring equity
for LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups. Hosted by comic Sandra Valls,
the multi-day event emphasized the importance of togetherness and
intersectionality.

The
conference featured special guests like Adrienne Maree Brown, a Black feminist
author and women’s rights activist; and American rapper Big Freedia. Dominique
Jackson, who plays Elektra Abundance on the hit-TV show “Pose,” also attended.

“The past election has shown us that when we stand together as a force, we will win,” Jackson said at the event. “But you can’t just show up for (an) election and then sit back.”

Topics
covered at this year’s conference include the intersections of LGBTQ people and
immigration, transgender activism and recognition, aging as an LGBTQ person and
fundraising tips for small and large advocacy organizations. The conference
also introduced Kierra Johnson as the Task Force’s new executive director.

“As
difficult as these last few years have been for us, I think they’ve also given
us a map,” Johnson said in Saturday’s “State of the Movement” speech. “I think
it’s undeniable how fragile our democracy is. And we’ve got work to do, right?
And it is work that the task force is committed to being a part of.”

Rea
Carey is set to step down on Monday after 12 years as executive director.

Johnson served as the Task Force’s deputy executive director since 2018. She served as the executive director of Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity for 10 years before working with the Task Force. 

Johnson
spoke on her excitement for taking on the role and the strength of the
“collective power” of LGBTQ people.

“It
is precisely because of this collective power that we have a conference that
looks the way it looks. It is because of our collective power that we are
seeing changes that we never thought possible 10, 15, 20 years ago,” she said.

New
policy changes under President Biden’s administration and additional legislation
the Task Force and other equal rights organizations are continuing to push
forward were highlighted in a variety of webinars. 

Task
Force Policy Director Liz Seaton in a workshop highlighted the work the
organization aims to do in 2021 that includes a focus on police reform,
inclusive sex education, promoting economic justice and expanding
nondiscrimination protections. Seaton also recognized the several executive
orders focused on equity that Biden has signed since the inauguration.

“We
are literally in a waterfall of progressive policy change right now,” said
Seaton.

Awards were also given to those leading in LGBTQ rights, including Carmen Vázquez, who won the SAGE Award for Leadership in Aging. Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, a self-described Puerto Rican butch dyke labor organizer, and leather leadership awardee Gayle Rubin were also recognized for their work for LGBTQ people and progressive rights.

Upwards
of 1,000 people attended the virtual conference.

They
were able to interact with one another on the virtual platform, as well as ask
questions during webinars and workshops. The Task Force also hosted inclusive
caucuses for a variety of identities across religions, occupations and gender
identities.

Game
nights were held at night, as well as variety shows, where attendees could
present their talents.

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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights