Registration open for 2016 Creating Change Conference

Screen shot 2015-08-31 at 1.45.18 PMRegistration is now open for the 2016 Creating Change Conference, taking place Jan. 20-24 at the Hilton Chicago. Go here to register.

Early Bird, limited income/student, presenter and age waiver registrations are available now. The Early Bird rate of $325 is available only until Oct. 31, when registration cost increases to $400.

Conference organizers are also accepting workshop proposals through Sept. 30. Submit those proposals here. The deadline to apply for the Eric Rofes Scholarship to cover registration fees is Dec. 1. Those who live in the Chicago area and want to register to host a Creating Change attendee can do that here.

You can reserve your hotel room here or request community housing placement here. Register to be a volunteer here.

Creating Change, held each year, is presented by the National LGBTQ Task Force. The Task Force, founded in 1973, is the country’s oldest nonprofit organization advocating for LGBTQ equality.

Creating Change, started 27 years ago is an organizing and skills-building conference for LGBTQ activists and allies working for equality. It was started one year after the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights as a way of giving activists the skills needed to carry on the battle for equality.

—  Tammye Nash

Rea Carey lays out agenda at Creating Change

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 7.13.45 PM

Rea Carey

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey spoke today (Friday, Feb. 6), at Creating Change in Denver, setting out an agenda as the movement achieves one goal: marriage equality.

Among the top items on the agenda is to secure nondiscrimination protections that protect our lives without broad religious exemptions.

“I don’t become less of a human if your humanity is recognized,” Carey said.

Ending policies that criminalize our lives, such as criminalizing people with HIV or using condoms as evidence that a trans person is a sex worker, is another Task Force goal.

Carey also called racial profiling an LGBTQ issue that must be stopped. She spoke about Ty Underwood, the trans woman killed in Tyler, and called hate against the trans community an epidemic.

—  David Taffet

Frazier to receive Leather Leadership Award at Creating Change

Mark Frazier Creating Change award

Dallasite Mark Frazier, longtime leather community activist and co-owner of Dallas Eagle, will receive the Leather Leadership Award during the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change beginning tomorrow in Denver, Colo.

Conference organizers said Frazier is being recognized because he “helped build Dallas’s leather community and is a passionate educator and leader. He’s helped organize fundraising events by the leather community to benefit several charities, and has served on numerous organizational boards, including being the former president of the National Leather Association. He’s been the recipient of several other awards for his dedication to the community and is always humbled by them.”

Read about other Creating Change award recipients here.

—  Tammye Nash

PHOTOS: Creating Change 2014 in Houston

Nona Hendryx performs Sunday at Creating Change in Houston. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Nona Hendryx performs Sunday at Creating Change in Houston. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

 HOUSTON — Thousands of LGBT advocates departed from Houston Sunday as the 26th annual National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change came to a close.

The annual five-day conference set records for the amount of attendees and workshops in its first year in Houston. And the inspiration of the weekend was all around during the conference, from Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s welcome to trans actress Laverne Cox’s keynote speech and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey’s State of the Movement address. (If you missed any of the speeches, you can watch them here.)

And, like any celebration in the LGBT community, it ended with a bang as bisexual singer Nona Hendryx rocked out on stage on Sunday after brunch.

More photos below.

—  Dallasvoice

Task Force’s Rea Carey says to keep momentum going to create more change

Rea Carey, executiove director of the Natinla Gay and Lesbian Task Force, speaks about the future of the LGBT movement at  the Creating Change conference in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, speaks about the future of the LGBT movement at the Creating Change conference in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

HOUSTON — Rea Carey expects the momentum from 2013 to carry over and encourage more change and success for the LGBT community this year in areas like immigration reform, healthcare coverage and nondiscrimination legislation.

Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called on the 4,000 people at the National Conference for LGBT Equality: Creating Change to reflect on the advances last year and fight for more in the coming months during her State of the Movement speech on Friday.

“2013 showed us and this country that the wins of 2012 weren’t a fluke,” Carey said. “The momentum is in favor of progressive change. We are here to stay, our progress will continue and we will not allow this country to turn back.”

—  Dallasvoice

Laverne Cox: Love for trans community will end injustices she, others face

Trans actress Laverne Cox addresses the crowd at Creating Change Thursday evening in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Trans actress Laverne Cox addresses the crowd at Creating Change 2014 Thursday evening in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice) 

HOUSTON — Transgender actress and advocate Laverne Cox has learned to love herself and is pleased to see the rest of the country learning to love trans people.

Cox gave the keynote address Thursday evening at this year’s national Creating Change conference at the Hilton Americas–Houston.

She walked onstage to a standing ovation and loud cheers from the 4,000 people in the audience. But she admitted to them  she was “not used to receiving this kind of love.”

“I have to say that a black transgender woman from a working-class background raised by a single mother getting all this love tonight; this feels like the change I need to see more of in the country,” Cox said.

—  Dallasvoice

Annise Parker touches on importance of elections, unity at Creating Change

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the crowd at the national Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker was cheered to the stage by thousands of people when she was introduced Thursday evening as Mrs. Annise Parker at The National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change.

Parker married her longtime partner earlier this month in California. She welcomed the applause during her welcome address at the conference, now in its 26th year, which is in Houston for the first time.

“You’re acting as if you’ve never seen a lesbian before,” Parker said. “And, yes, this what a lesbian mayor looks like.”

While conference organizers had hoped to hold the event in Houston when Parker was mayor — she’s now in her third and final term — Parker said she wanted to be a part of the experience that happens when thousands of LGBT activists and advocates converge for the national gathering.

“It was important for me to be here tonight because one, you’re my family,” she said. “Two, it is important for the rest of the United States and the rest of the state of Texas to experience what we do here at Creating Change, and I wanted to be a part of that.

“And I get to home to my new wife,” she added.

Parker, who said she lit up City Hall in rainbow colors for the conference, touched on her citywide elections and how LGBT people can create change by electing the right people to any office.

“I’m here to tell you elections matter,” she said. “And when you put someone in the state house or in the city council chamber or in the mayor’s office, you can make a difference in the lives of people that you will never meet and never see, but you know that you are transforming people’s lives. And those mayors might do something like penning the most comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance in the United States as their third executive act.”

Parker has said this term she plans to have the council pass a nondiscrimination ordinance similar to those in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

She also said people could elect a mayor who supports marriage equality. Parker is a co-chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and she encouraged attendees to go by Freedom to Marry’s booth and email their mayors to support marriage equality.

And with such a diverse representation of the LGBT community, Parker ended by encouraging the community’s strength to focus on common goals instead of divisive factors.

“The most important thing that we can do here today, this evening and at this conference, is to look around at who’s here with us, look at the strength we have as a community, recognize that the differences that divide us are so much less than the things that unite us,” she said. “Our strength is powerful.”

—  Dallasvoice

Helping change begin at home

CREATING CHANGE | While in Dallas to meet with supporters, NGLTF Deputy Executive Director Darlene Nipper discussed the Task’s Force’s work. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

NGLTF staffer says national organization focuses on grassroots to help local activists make change at home and nationally

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Change happens one person at a time, and change begins at home. That’s why the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, even though it is a national organization, focuses on activism at the grassroots level.

NGLTF Deputy Executive Director Darlene Nipper, in Dallas recently to talk with local activists and offer NGLTF’s help, said, “Our approach is working to collaborate and strengthen the grass roots community. We strengthen home communities to advance LGBT rights.”

NGLTF held its annual Creating Change conference in Dallas last year, and over the course of the months spent preparing for the conference, the organization’s staff made friends here.

“We spend time in places where we’ve held conferences,” she said, working to continue developing those relationships.

Nipper congratulated Dallas activists on their recent successes with Dallas County, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board and Dallas Independent School District, and saying NGLTF was available to help as the community continues to move forward.

When NGLTF works with a community, Nipper said, the organization encourages local activists to ask, “What do you need?” and “What do we have?” — and then compare the answers.

The goal, Nipper said, is to build power, to get resources, to fight ballot measures and to pass inclusive legislation and ordinances.

“I’m proud of how we engage with people,” she said.

She called Creating Change the town square of the movement.

“Everyone else, all the groups come [to Creating Change] to strategize,” Nipper said.

She credited the organization’s ability to play that strategic role to NGLTF’s history as the oldest national LGBT organization.

“There’s something about being a little older,” she said — hinting that not only is NGLTF older, but also maybe a little wiser in its approach, although she stressed how well the various LGBT groups work together.

Each of the different advocacy organizations have a role to play, Nipper said, and the Task Force’s niche is grassroots organizing.

“We’re on the ground doing the training and preparing the local folks to do what they need to do to get the local ordinances passed,” Nipper said.

She said that much of the language for local ordinances, especially those that are gender-inclusive, comes from language NGLTF has written. The organization has studied effective anti-bullying legislation and suggests wording to local groups working on the issue.

On the federal level, Nipper said the LGBT community has been very successful recently, noting that, “Monumental change has been going on.”

She pointed to four big pieces of legislation have been, if not passed, at least seriously considered: Defense of Marriage Act repeal, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell policy” and hate crimes legislation, “which we got and never celebrated. I’m not sure what that’s about.”

Nipper said the community has also been very successful in making concrete policy change at the administration level, stuff that can get done without Congress,” on issues ranging from hospital visitation to the census count.

Having LGBT people counted as part of the census might not seem like a huge advance, Nipper said, but it can have a huge impact because being counted includes the LGBT community as part of the fabric of American culture.

“Every dollar in the federal budget begins with the census,” she noted.

Nipper also pointed out that many agencies have begun takings laws and regulations such as the Family Leave Act and applying them to the LGBT community. The State Department expanded regulations relating to diplomats’ families and extended those to cover same-sex partners.

“HUD has changed the definition of family because of the work that we do,” she added, giving credit for much of that change to NGLTF’s New Beginning Initiative.

She explained that the Task Force approached President Obama’s transition team members before he even took office, presenting team members with about 80 regulatory policies the activist thought could be changed by agency heads or the White House.

“The transition team used that as a strategy for changes they could make,” Nipper said “They took it on because it was so clear. It gave us a jump-start.”

Among the issues the Task Force embraced last year at the Creating Change conference in Dallas was benefits equality for the elderly.

“We have a public policy and government affairs office so we have a person working on aging related issues,” Nipper said, adding that inequality in social security benefits and taxes are at the top of the agenda.

Recently, the Task Force has been working with Transportation Security Administration, saying that new security procedures and equipment can create situations where transgenders might be treated with disrespect and even attacked.

Nipper said that the new technology gave NGLTF new opportunities to talk to federal officials to work out new policies that will respect the transgender community.

The list of issues, regulations and policies NGLTF is working on is long.

“We work on education bills,” Nipper said. “We’re working on ENDA.”

More generally, she said that when the new Congress came into office in January, NGLTF strategizes with other groups about how to get any bills passed over the next two years.

“We need to identify who’s on our side. Who’s willing to stand for equality?” she said.

Nipper said means identifying LGBT-friendly Republicans and working with them, as well as identifying Democrats who are not supportive.

“One of the most exciting things we’re working on to compliment the wide array of leadership development is that we’re doing an on line academy,” she said. “People can get training on line.”

The Task Force Academy for Leadership and Action includes tools, resources, a resource library and a component that is interactive and developmental and parts of the program are tailored to the individual.

Nipper said it’s a good way to feel connected between Creating Change conferences.

The next Creating Change conference will be held in Baltimore Jan. 25, which was moved earlier next year to not conflict with the Super Bowl.   •
For more information about the on line academy and NGLTF, visit

—  John Wright

White House gate-crasher Michaele Salahi to appear on 'Real Housewives of D.C.'

Kate Clinton at Creating Change 2010
Kate Clinton

Bravo announced that Michaele Salahi, the White House state dinner gate-crasher, will be one of the “Real Housewives of D.C.

The Salahis arrived at the White House in a Hummer with camera rolling. Directly in front of them were Kate Clinton and Urvishi Vaid.

I interviewed Clinton before the Creating Change conference that was held in Dallas in February.

The state dinner was in honor of the Indian prime minister. Vaid was born in India.

Clinton said they got in the receiving line. Vaid, the former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, shook President Obama’s hand first.

Vaid said, “We appreciate what you are trying to do for the LGBT community, but you’ve got to be harder on the Republicans.”

—  David Taffet

Rea Carey's 'State of the Movement' address

Rea Carey, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, delivered the “State of the Movement” address at Creating Change. Here it is in four parts, about 40 minutes and worth watching if you missed it.

Part 1

(three more parts after the jump)

—  David Taffet