The 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, produced by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, completed its five-day stay at the Baltimore Hilton on Jan. 29. Close to 3,000 attendees from all over the country attended the confab that included four plenary sessions, 12 day-long institutes and more than 260 workshops and seminars covering a wide swath of topics. These included immigration, politics, bisexuality, organizing, faith, family, HIV/AIDS, gender, aging and youth.
Five busloads of conference attendees headed to Washington to lobby members of Congress on day two. The conference officially opened later that evening with a welcoming address from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who boasted that Baltimore is one of the leading cities in the U.S. when it comes to LGBT rights.
Katie O’Malley, the wife of Gov. Martin O’Malley and a sitting judge, caused a flap over her comment that those who opposed the bill last year were “cowards.” The next day she apologized for her choice of words.
Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, was the keynote speaker. He addressed hundreds in the audience and spoke of the need for justice and equality for black as well as LGBT individuals. The weekend was emceed by comic and activist Kate Clinton.
Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey presented the state of the movement address. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan discussed federal efforts to advance the rights and well-being of LGBT people and their families at HUD and beyond. Gov. O’Malley spoke of his desire to secure marriage equality and gender identity protections. And actor/singer Wilson Cruz closed out the conference with Love, Child…, a musical performance.
“I think the 2012 Creating Change conference has been a spectacular success,” Sue Hyde, Creating Change director, told the Blade. “We have brought 3,000 people together here in Baltimore. Each and every one of them is going home with better skills, more confidence and more inner strength to do the work that they do every day. Here in Baltimore I have gotten so much feedback that this has been a real community-building project for folks across the country.”
(For more on Creating Change, see news and AE sections.)