Far more people than expected crowded into an Aug. 27 patio party at the North Side bar SoFo Tap that the host committee of The National LGBTQ Task Force's 28th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change organized.
It was a clear sign of the excitement and enthusiasm already gathering momentum for the conference coming to the Chicago Hilton on Jan. 20, 2016.
That was good news for Creating Change Host Committee co-chairs Mary F. Morten, Joshua Oaks, Precious Davis and Kenny Martin-Ocasio, who have already completed groundwork in a catalog of goals designed to engage the Chicago community in what they feel will be a truly significant moment.
Creating Change is in Chicago for the first time in its history. The city will play host to the more than 4,000 of the LGBTQ community's top and fledging leaders, advocates and activists expected to attend from across the nation and world.
"Chicago is an activist and advocate city," Oaks told Windy City Times. "To have people come to a city where people are already so engaged in this work, getting our voices out there and being heard is exciting. The experience of being at this conference is going to be so powerful."
Oaks added that the more than 250 sessions, institutes and caucuses already planned for Creating Change will include a plenary with the Black Lives Matter movement. "We're going to be talking about things like criminalization and HIV. It's a conversation we've needed to have and this is a big stage to put it on," he said.
"This is a critical time for the Task Force to be in Chicago because there's so much happening on the national front for LGBT rights and inclusion," Morten said. "They understand that we must do more in terms of lifting up the visibility of what is happening to transgender women of color. This is a state of emergency. We have to come up with some solutions and the Task Force is up to that."
The host committee has initiated a $50,000 fundraising campaign towards a program that will cover expenses and housing for individuals like youth who could not ordinarily afford to attend Creating Change. To that end, a fundraiser will be held at Sidetrack on Sept. 18 beginning at 6 p.m.
Organizers are also seeking volunteers along with those who have proposals for conference sessions. The deadline for proposals to be submitted is Sept. 30.
For more information, visit www.creatingchange.org .