February 17, 2018 at 5:17 am EST | by guest columnist
My trip to Creating Change: inspiring and educational
Creating Change, gay news, Washington Blade

Kierra Johnson and Rea Carey speak at Creating Change in Washington, D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s note: The Blade sponsored a student from SMYAL, covering registration fees for admission to the recent Task Force Creating Change conference in D.C. The following is the student’s first-person account of the weekend.

My experience at Creating Change was fun and educational. There were people from all across the country there, so a lot of different experiences were shared. The first day I went there, I went to a workshop called Brave Space where we learned a bunch of things to take back to our organizations. We learned about how to deal with racial inequality in our spaces, lack of resources and more. A lot of people shared their tactics and strategies that they use in their organization. It was a very helpful and informative workshop in a welcoming space with other youth and youth leaders.

After the lunch break, I took some time to explore the convention more in-depth. They had rooms called youth suites, where youth could hang out and socialize while enjoying food and entertainment. The first suite I went to was the general youth suite. It was full of youth from all over the country. They would start conversations with you and invite you to join the games they played.

I also got a chance to hear some awesome live piano played by youth in the suite. The adults there were cool too. Next, I went to the trans youth suite. I was greeted by trans staff and youth, I played a game of chess while having a nice talk with a youth I met there. It was spacious and had a calming environment.

The next room (my favorite) was the disability suite. There weren’t a lot of people in there, but the people who were there was super nice and cool. We talked about anything and everything. I even played a game of cards with my best friend. It’s nice to have people that can relate to you on levels you thought weren’t possible. I went home shortly after that.

The second day I went was even better. First thing I did was go back to the youth suite to chill a bit and to find out what I wanted to do that day. Then I made my way to the Promoting Trans Mental Health and Wellness workshop. We learned different ways to help people in our spaces cope with what’s going on around them. Some mechanisms we learned while we were there included practicing breathing with bubbles and aromatherapy.

Later I went to a disability caucus, which was my favorite thing there that I did. We basically talked about our lives being LGBTQ and disabled, how we get treated differently from other people and stereotypes about us. I heard a lot of peoples’ stories from all different walks of life. I enjoyed the varying age groups. People with mental and physical disabilities were there. Again, there weren’t a lot of us, but it was enough to have a good, fulfilling conversation.

Throughout the convention, I saw a lot of artwork made by queer artists and as a queer artist myself I was happy to be surrounded by like-minded people. There was a party that night but I didn’t stay long because I’m not much of a party or social event person. But it was nice seeing people enjoying themselves in a safe environment.

I think it’s amazing how this one event can bring so many people together. So many people made new lifelong friends there. Also everyone went home with new information that they will put to use in not only their organizations but their everyday lives. Overall my experience was great at Creating Change for my first time there and I’d love to get another chance to go again.


Yuna is a D.C.-area student.

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