Dallas organizers to offer tips on everything from political organizing to presenting GayBingo
Dallas is a city known for its strong, numerous and varied LGBT organizations. A number of local activists and organizers from those groups will be workshop presenters at the Creating Change conference being held in Dallas Feb. 3â€“7.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Erin Moore will present a workshop on working with partisan organizations.
"We’re going to be talking about working strategically in hostile environments," Moore said. "We’re a red state and we were a red city."
She said they would discuss both their successes and failures in both electing LGBT officials and getting protections enacted for LGBT people. As examples, Moore cited the Dallas and Fort Worth non-discrimination ordinances as well as police and fire department, Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Dallas Independent School District policies as important milestones.
Moore said that she is still lining up people involved in successful elections that placed LGBT candidates in office and those who helped pass local ordinances.
Although not the official title, she said she wanted to call her workshop, "Don’t it make my red state blue."
Marla Compton and Maeve O’Connor are among four local panelists for a workshop on transgender issues called "Getting to Know You."
Compton said people will be asked to put questions they have on index cards. She said she has found that some people are afraid to offend them by asking questions directly.
"But I have developed a thick skin," Compton said.
She said that with some groups there’s a lot of ignorance on the subject. Putting questions on cards, she said, is a great icebreaker.
In the past, she has presented workshops to school groups, other LGBT groups and for corporate diversity training. But she said she is looking forward to see what these activists from around the country will ask.
The goal of the workshop is for attendees to learn how to advocate for and be a better ally to the transgender community.
Jesse Garcia, president of the local Rainbow LULAC chapter, is part of a panel on immigration reform. He said a new comprehensive bill was introduced in Congress in December.
"We want the LGBT community to see themselves in the issue," Garcia said.
While separate legislation such as the Reuniting Families Act that addresses binational couples has not yet been included in the comprehensive reform bill, Garcia said that the current bill would help LGBT people become citizens.
Thomas Saens, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund who is a keynote speaker for the conference, will participate in the workshop with Garcia.
Garcia said the strategy he hopes activists attending the conference learn is that no member of Congress should be taken for granted. He expects the legislation to be explosive when it comes to the floor.
The National Queer Asian-Pacific Islander Alliance and Immigration Equality will also participate in the session.
Joe Hoselton will present a workshop on how to run gay bingo. Performing as Jenna Skyy, he hosts GayBingo each month at the Rose Room.
"I’m going to do a mini-workshop and presentation and show the impact the event can have," Hoselton said.
He listed all the benefits the event has on the community — raising funds, supporting the local business community, bringing straight people into the neighborhood, providing healthy entertainment, young and old mingling and enjoying an evening together. He said restaurants in the area especially benefit each month when 600 people participate.
Hoselton said he would present his workshop as himself but will have a poster of GayBingo host Jenna hanging in the room and not reveal that it’s him until the end of the hour.
Creating Change takes place at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. Registration information is available on their Web site at CreatingChange.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 15, 2010.