Last week marked the 24th anniversary of the annual Creating Change conference, put on by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. Each year, the conference, a training ground and community-building intensive for LGBT activists from all over the U.S., takes place in a different city. This year found nearly 3,000 of us in Baltimore, for five days of workshops, caucuses, institutes, plenary speeches, and, of course, networking.
The bi community was out in full force, and, in particular, bisexual youth -- and their allies -- made a strong showing at the conference. In fact, they did more than make a showing; they put on a show!
One of the most exciting parts of the conference, for me, was the day-long Bisexual Organizing Institute, organized and led by a team of volunteers. The majority of attendees were college students, some of whom identify as bi, and some of whom identify using other words. Terms like "pansexual," "queer," "fluid," and "unlabelled" were heard around the room; and we also had allies with us.
And what a difference a day made.
The group spent the day hearing from different speakers -- as well as each other -- about the issues facing the bi community, such as health challenges, discrimination, biphobia, epidemic levels of depression, and lack of visibility, but also about tools for resistance and resilience. Lead facilitator Ellyn Ruthstrom, who is the President of the Bisexual Resource Center, along with co-facilitators Robyn Ochs, Chiquita Violette, and Paul Nocera, shared dozens of websites, books, brochures, and other materials that attendees could use to foster understanding of bisexuality on their campuses, in their workplaces, in their community organizations, and among their friends. (Full disclosure: I was also one of the facilitators for part of the day.)
After all of that talking and sharing, it was time for action. The room was split into four groups, each of which either happened to have a camera or was given one. The groups scattered around the conference site and had 90 minutes to create a video on any bi topic of their choice. This process had to include concept development, scripting, filming, and, depending on the team's vision, maybe some editing. With little time and almost no props, the film teams took to the challenge like they were in a reality-competition TV show.
An hour and a half later, everyone gathered again in the main Institute room to share their creations. One team had already uploaded their video to YouTube and started getting views even before we watched it! Another team uploaded their video to YouTube a few days after the conference. Here, then, are two of the four videos that were created that day:
(Note: appearance in these videos is not an indication that any one actor identifies as bisexual.)
These films are significant not just because of this, but because bi youth deserve a platform even when times aren't that tough -- they have something to say in many contexts.
Next year's Creating Change conference will take place in Atlanta, Jan. 23 to 27. Will you be there when CC turns 25?