17th Annual Creating Change Conference Kicks Off in St. Louis
First and largest post-election lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) gathering draws more than 2,500 participants
Gay Leaders Regenerate and Reactivate at National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, November 11, 2004 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force this evening officially opened its 17th Annual Creating Change Conference at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis, MO.
Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, lesbian pioneers of the emerging movement to end homosexual oppression and together for more than 50 years, were the featured opening night speakers and the recipients of the Creating Change Award, which read, "You spoke the unspeakable, you wrote the unthinkable. You lived openly and proudly as a loving couple long before a movement would stand with you." Lyon and Martin founded the mythic Daughters of Bilitis, published the country's first lesbian magazine, "The Ladder," and served as the first openly lesbian delegates to the White House Conference on Aging in 1995. The award was preceded by the Women's Educational Media film, "One Wedding and a Revolution." Lyon and Martin told the crowd it was only a matter of time before federal law recognizes the rights of gays and lesbians, and added, "we must keep in mind how hard we must work to create change."
City of St. Louis Ward 18 Alderman Terry Kennedy ignited the crowd in his welcoming remarks by calling on the commonality of traditionally marginalized community's struggles saying in part, "The same mentality that will bomb innocent people, will also discriminate against women and people of color. They will discriminate based on someone's sexual orientation or based on economics. We must perceive a progressive movement that does not allow us to isolate each other."
Task Force board of directors co-chairs Beth Zemsky and Jeff Soref started the conversation about our community thinking and taking action together. Soref said in part, "We will not allow them to drive a wedge between us or deny our families rights - we must think strategically to create and bring about change." Zemsky added, "The movement of social change is about building infrastructure - for life and for love, we are not going back."
Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman made remarks honoring the campaign leaders in attendance from the eleven states that faced anti-gay ballot measures, recognizing them as heroes who have risen from the trenches of an all-out assault. Foreman recognized heroes from Oregon to Kentucky, Michigan to Oklahoma all of whom received standing ovations from those in attendance. Foreman will present the conference keynote speech, "Surrender? Never! The Gay Movement Charts Its Future" at Friday morning's plenary session.
This year's conference follows the 2004 Presidential Election by eight days, as intensely watched an election as most of us will ever experience. LGBT equality leaders have gathered at the Creating Change conference to chart future resistance to four more years of the most anti-gay administration in history.
The conference runs Nov. 10-14, 2004. Still to come are the Skills Academy for Leadership and Training on Friday and Saturday; more than 120 workshop sessions and presentations, caucuses, film screenings, a keynote speech from Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman and the closing plenary session on Sunday Nov. 14.
Upcoming plenary speakers include Amber Hollibaugh of SAGE USA, Dr. Mary Frances Berry of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, Clarence Patton of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality.
On-site registration is still available. For much more information about the conference, visit the Task Force Creating Change Web site (http://www.creatingchange.org) or call 314-588-7602.
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
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