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Creating Change in 2022

ALOK keynotes the National LGBTQ Task Force’s New Orleans conference.

Alok (photo courtesy of the National LGBTQ Task Force)

The National LGBTQ Task Force will host the 34th Creating Change Conference January 12–16, 2022. For over three decades, the nonprofit organization has given activists, advocates, and allies the opportunity to network and learn new skills they can use in the fight for LGBTQ rights. 

“As always, Creating Change will be a space where we share skills and knowledge, fill our hearts with love and joy, and deepen our commitment to freedom, justice, and equity for all LGBTQ+ people,” Creating Change Conference Director Danny Linden said in a press release.

The conference will occur in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. People must register for the event ahead of time, provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination when they arrive and check in, and wear a mask in all shared spaces unless they are eating or drinking. 

The organization’s Director of Communications Cathy Renna urges Texans to attend the event. Not only is it a short drive to New Orleans, but the conference is also a phenomenal way to start the year as an activist, advocate, and member of the LGBTQ community. 

“It’s a conference and experience like no other,” says Renna, who has been to all but two conferences. 

The five-day program will kick off on Wednesday, January 12, with an opening ceremony in the morning and a keynote speech by Beverly Littlethunder, a Native American advocate.

On Thursday, January 13, attendees can interact with a variety of institutions dedicated to topics like aging in the queer community and Latinx issues. Additionally, about a dozen identity-based caucuses will appear, giving like-minded participants the chance to gather and connect. Thursday night, the event will hold a welcoming reception. 

The conference will host all-day workshops on the following Friday, January 14. Some workshops focus on identity by letting participants share their experiences and find community. Other workshops prioritize skills and movement-building by teaching attendees how to raise money, write grants, work with the media, organize, and more. 

National LGBTQ Task Force communications director Cathy Renna (l) with activists John Selig and Portia Cantrell.

“You wanna learn how somebody managed to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance in their hometown? There will be a workshop with folks who have done that. You want to learn how to raise money for your local LGBTQ center in creative ways? We’ve got tons of those. The different workshops offer something really for everyone,” Renna says. 

Friday evening, National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Kierra Johnson and Deputy Executive Director Mayra Hidalgo Salazar will discuss the state of the movement, which Renna describes as “the queer version of the State of the Union.” The speech will also mark the launch of the organization’s “Queer the Vote” campaign to elect pro-LGBTQ politicians during the upcoming midterm elections. 

The event wants to show activists how they can help people become well-informed registered voters and turn states like Texas more purple in the fight for LGBTQ rights.

“There is a movement in this country to attack queer rights. It’s not an understatement to say that our lives are on the line,” Renna says. “If you care about the world you live in, the people around you, and yourself, it’s important to be engaged. And the first step is being part of the process.” 

After the speech, attendees can participate in film screenings, a game night, and a house ball. 

Keynote speaker ALOK, a nonbinary writer, performer, and activist, will kick-start the full day of workshops on Saturday, January 15. In the evening, participants can join film screenings, another game night, and a talent-variety show. 

On Sunday, January 16, the conference will hold an interfaith service, allowing folks of all religions to gather. The event will end with a closing celebration called Bubbles and Beignets, featuring alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and the iconic New Orleans deep-fried pastry. 

The conference has changed throughout the years. It was originally held in November in Washington, but now kicks off in January and occurs in cities throughout the country. However, some things never change. “It continues to be one of the most diverse spaces you can be in as a queer activist,” Renna says. 

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This article appears in the December 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.



Lillian Hoang is a staff reporter for OutSmart Magazine. She graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in journalism and minor in Asian American studies. She works as a College of Education communication assistant and hopes to become an editor-in-chief.
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