April 1, 2014 | by Steve Charing
B’MORE Proud energizes students
Zach Wahls, Democratic National Convention, Washington Blade, gay news

Zach Wahls, pictured here speaking at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, presented a keynote address at B’MORE Proud. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

It may have been a cold rainy on March 30, but inside Levering Hall on the campus of Johns Hopkins University, the energy and enthusiasm coming from the students attending the B’MORE Proud LGBTIA Leadership Summit warmed things up.

More than 200 LGBTQ students and allies registered for the conference, which took place at Johns Hopkins for the second time since this summit began in 2010. Previous hosts have been Towson University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The theme for this year’s installment was “Breaking Boundaries.”

Three potent speakers fired up the crowd throughout the 10-hour summit. Oakland, California-based author, performer and trans-bi activist Julia Serano, best known for her 2007 book, “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity,” delivered the morning keynote with a high-tempo PowerPoint presentation on gender and associated stereotypes.

The afternoon keynote address was presented by activist Zach Wahls, who in 2011 at the age of 19, testified before the Iowa Legislature on behalf of marriage equality in support of his two moms. His speech then was captured on YouTube where it went viral with some 18 million views. During his presentation at the summit, Wahls replicated his speech to a loud ovation.

The evening’s entertainment was provided by comedian Julie Goldman who irreverently delivered a roaring monologue on her life as a Jewish lesbian, receiving roars from the crowd.

In between these presentations were three breakout sessions covering a wide range of issues including: “B’More You! Intersecting Identities,” “Advocating Through the Media,” “Safe Dating: Identifying Abusers and Sexual Predators,” “Health Concerns for LGBTQ People of Color,”  “Queering Reproductive Justice,” “Coming Out in the Digital Age,” and “Realities of Young Black Gay Men in Baltimore.”

“Personally, I think what contributed most to the success of this year’s B’More Proud Summit was the sheer energy and enthusiasm of our participants,” said Brandon Fiksel, a member of the B’MORE Proud planning committee. “Everyone was passionate, they wanted to be there, and that was because we all recognized how important of an opportunity this was — a rare opportunity for the whole Baltimore queer community, but especially the college-aged generation, to come together and learn from each other.”

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