Metro Weekly

Creating Change announces full 2021 lineup including Big Freedia, Dominique Jackson

Conference moves online for the first time in 33 years, featuring a full four-day lineup of events

creating change, conference, lgbtq task force, dominique jackson, big freedia

A panel discussion from Creating Change 2018 – Photo by Randy Shulman.

The National LGBTQ Task Force has announced the lineup for the 2021 Creating Change Conference.

For the first time in 33 years, the annual conference — which offers space for LGBTQ activists, leaders, allies, and changemakers to connect, learn, and grow — moves online.

A four-day-long event, running from Jan. 28 to Jan. 31, the conference will feature various institutes, workshops, keynotes, and caucus sessions.

Among those scheduled to attend are Pose star and transgender activist Dominique Jackson, who will give the opening keynote address on Jan. 29, and bounce music legend Big Freedia, who will perform at the same event as well as the closing plenary on Jan. 31.

Comic, actor, singer, and writer Sandra Valls will serve as emcee for the conference, while the closing keynote will be given by adrienne maree brown, an American author, women’s rights activist and Black feminist from Detroit and the former executive director of the Ruckus Society.

Creating Change will also honor four people for their efforts in making a difference for the LGBTQ community.

Gloria Allen, a 74-year-old trans advocate and activist, will receive the SAGE Advocacy Award for Excellent in Leadership on Aging Issues. Allen, known as “Mama Gloria,” founded a charm school for homeless transgender youth — the story of which was adapted into a play, Charm — and continues to advocate for trans youth, as captured in recent documentary Mama Gloria.

Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, a more than 30-year veteran of the LGBTQ and labor movements, will receive the Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement for extensive experience organizing and training at the intersections of sexual orientation, gender identity, racial/ethnic identity, and culture related explicitly to communities of color in the United States.

Javier Hernandez, an immigrant, queer leader, and director of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (IC4U), fights for immigrant rights in the Inland Empire, and will receive the Haas, Jr. Fund Award for Outstanding LGBT Leadership on behalf of Immigrant Rights.

And for her work and studies within the leather community, anthropologist, theorist, and writer Gayle Rubin will receive the Leather Leadership Award.

Creating Change 2021 will offer four plenary sessions, 16 day-long institutes, and 48 workshop and caucus sessions. Among the institutes on offer are: Indigineous Fortitude and Brilliance; Queer and Trans API Institute; The Black Institute: the State of the Black LGBTQ Movement; Unión=Fuerza Latinx Institute; and White People’s Institute for Ending Racism: What Kind of Ancestors Shall We Be?

In a statement earlier this year, Creating Change director Andy Garcia noted that 2020 had been a “critical year” filled with “overwhelming challenges…from a global pandemic to an economic depression to the uprising against racial injustice facing this country.”

“I am thrilled that we have Big Freedia, adrienne maree brown and Dominique Jackson participating, along with thousands of LGBTQ+ activists and allies,” he said. “We will have the chance to create community, learn from each other and plan for the year ahead.”

To view the full schedule and register for Creating Change 2021, visit www.creatingchange.org. Tickets start at $50.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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