I was part of a group of OSU students who attended this year’s Creating Change Conference in Houston, Texas. The conference is coordinated by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and it brought together more than 4,000 people from all over the country. OSU’s Office of Student Life, Multicultural Center, Office of Diversity & Inclusion and Scarlet & Gay GLBT Alumni Society all generously collaborated to make the trip possible for us.
Presenters and participants came from all walks of life and included members of the business community, elected officials, faith leaders, students, volunteers and staff of non-profit organizations. About 25 percent of these attendees were young people under 25. As a student, this lent to experiencing a real sense of community and empowerment.
As my friends and I entered the Hilton the first night we could not help but feel a bit taken aback by the abundance and diversity of out and open LGBTQ people. I said to the group, “This must be what it feels like to be straight!” What I meant was how it feels to safely and openly navigate the world, as your most authentic self.
My most empowering experience at Creating Change happened during Laverne Cox’s keynote speech. As she spoke about her experiences, and as we cheered and celebrated her accomplishments, she was almost brought to tears several times. Early in her speech she explained, “I am not used to receiving this type of love.” To which we cheered louder, in a continuing expression of our love for her. During the speech she named many trans* women who have also advocated for the community. People like Janet Mock, Carmen Carrera, Sylvia Rivera, Candis Cayne, and CeCe McDonald. We cheered for them all, because as Cox asserted, “Loving trans* women is a revolutionary act!”
During the conference, my friends and I were ecstatic about the opportunity to be in rooms filled with people who look and identify like we do. I had that feeling while discussing the dynamics of systems of oppression and desire in people of color, in a room full of people of color. I also felt it when I learned how to be trans* inclusive in a session about how to be more sex positive in the trans* community. I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the Creating Change conference this year, and am very excited to implement what I learned into my own work.
Gustavo Carlos is a fourth year Psychology and Sexuality Studies Major at OSU. He is the communications
director of SHADES, head mentor of the Latino Leadership Development Institute, and works at OSU’s Office
of Diversity and Inclusion in the area of Gender and Sexual Diversity Initiatives. He is from El Paso, Texas.