When regional activists gather later this month in D.C., the foremost question they'll be asking is both simple and daunting: "How do we win full equality?"
Equality Across America, a national equal-rights organization, posed the question for LGBT groups around the country to answer this spring at a series of regional, grassroots conferences.
To that end, Full Equality NOW! DC (FEN! DC), a group that formed shortly after the March on Washington in October 2009, is presenting the ''EqualiCon Regional LGBTQI Activist Conference'' on Saturday, April 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at All Souls Unitarian Church.
''We've done demonstrations and protests, but this is our first conference,'' says Carrie Hathorn of FEN! DC. ''Sometimes after big demonstrations people think things are going to change right away. That's not the case. It takes years of struggling and fighting to change society. It's a long-term process.
''For new activists that are engaging now, they don't necessarily have that background, or get it, that it's going to take longer than one march. That's the primary reason Equality Across America put out this call for local groups to organize these conferences.''
Hathorn says FEN! DC will be bringing together student activists from Virginia who have been speaking out against Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's efforts to exclude ''sexual orientation'' from the state government's employment anti-discrimination policy, and some from Maryland who have been protesting Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX).
''We want to connect these student groups and movements, as well as a broader picture of groups that have been around for a long time.''
While Hathorn would not share the number of registered attendees as of Metro Weekly deadline, she predicts about 80 to 100 participants.
''We don't know exactly [how many people will attend], but I can tell you that Boston just had a similar conference, and they had 300 people.
''As of now we have people coming down from New York, Pennsylvania, and even as far as Arkansas and Maine. It's shaping up to be a regional Mid-Atlantic conference.''
To register for the April 17 EqualiCon at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2835 16th St. NW, visit fendc.org. Registration is free. A $10 donation is suggested.