Thursday, January 26, 2012

Move Over John Waters and The Wire, This Week Baltimore is Creating Change

Baltimore. You may know it best as the home -- and favored film setting -- of queer icon John Waters. Or maybe you became familiar with its “charms” – it is known as Charm City after all – from Bubbles, Jimmy McNulty, Stringer Bell and the rest of the gang on HBO’s The Wire. Or maybe I’m just throwing out this trivia because that’s where I learned everything I know about Baltimore, which is to say not much, unless Baltimore really is rife with crime, corruption, and sassy, big-haired lookers like Dawn Davenport, Tracy Turnblad and Francine Fishpaw.

I’ll soon find out for sure since I and GLAD staffers Eva Boyce, Eric Carreno, Matt McTighe and Robbie Samuels are heading to Baltimore for Creating Change 2012, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s annual national conference on LGBT equality. More than 2000 LGBT activists and allies will gather this week at the Hilton Baltimore for a program featuring over 250 workshops and training sessions, four plenary sessions – including an opening plenary by NAACP President Ben Jealous-- and tons of networking opportunities.

I’m proud to note that I’ll be representing GLAD on a panel discussion called Overturning DOMA: How We End Federal Marriage Discrimination on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 9:00-10:30 a.m., which is sponsored by Freedom to Marry. My esteemed co-panelists are Jo Deutsch, Freedom to Marry’s federal director, and Christian Berle, deputy executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. Michael Crawford, Freedom to Marry’s director of online programs, will try to keep us all in line as the panel moderator. If you’re attending the conference, please join us to learn about the legal and political strategies we’re deploying to dump DOMA, and share your thoughts on how to do away with this discriminatory law (the more you talk the less I talk! It’s a win-win.)

Later that afternoon, I’ll join my good friends Gunner Scott and Jesse Begenyi of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) for I AM Trans People Speak! Creating a Community-Driven Media and Public Education Campaign which goes from 3 to 6 p.m. The workshop is based on the successful Trans People Speak public education campaign by MTPC and aims to help participants effectively shape and share their personal stories, then package them as public education tools to increase the understanding of trans people and the reality of their daily lives.

My colleague Robbie Samuels, GLAD’s senior manager of events and donor management, will be presenting his famous Art of the Schmooze on Friday, Jan. 27 from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Want to learn how to really work a room? Then don’t miss Robbie’s training. On Saturday, Robbie will present Fundraising: Getting Past the Fear of Asking, the title of which we hope is self-explanatory, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Matt McTighe, GLAD’s Director of Public Education for Maine, is joining our crew in Baltimore to discuss our efforts to win the freedom to marry in Maine called Marriage Equality at the Ballot Box in 2012. That takes place on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon.

Eva Boyce, our chief financial officer, and Eric Carreno, our operations manager, are both attending Creating Change in conjunction with their involvement in the Pipeline Project, an LGBT leadership initiative. They’ll also be networking and spreading the word about GLAD’s work whenever they get the chance. They’ve both attended Robbie’s Art of the Schmooze training, so they know how to get it done.

We’ll be tweeting our experiences at the conference so be sure to follow us if you’re not already (@GladLaw) or you’ll see our tweets at #CC12, the official hashtag for the conference.

I’m only in town from Thursday to Saturday, but if I have some spare time, I hope to venture out the Prospect Hill Cemetery in nearby Towson and visit the grave site of John Waters’ legendary muse, Divine. I’ll be sure to wear my cha-cha heels.

We hope to see you there! (At Creating Change, not the grave site)

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