Creating Change, Building Joy, And Fighting For Our Future

At a time of an unprecedented number of attacks on the LGBTQ+ Community, the Creating Change conference brings a breath of fresh air that allows the community to have a moment to breathe and build together. Hosted in New Orleans, Louisiana this weekend the conference allows participants to take a deep dive into advocacy work to share what is working and what threats are looming for our democracy. In intentionally not abandoning the south, the conference provides an opportunity to remind many of queer Southern existence and why it is important to build electoral power wherever queer people are located. This is why a contingent of organizers from Pittsburgh decided to trek to New Orleans to participate in this year‘s conference.

“As I engage with conferences like Creating Change, I see them as crucial not only for my education but as a vibrant testament to the resilience and impact of black trans and queer activists,” said Dena Stanley, founder of TransYouniting and Co-Director of Pittsburgh Pride. “These spaces are more than just forums for dialogue; they are active celebrations of the hard work and achievements of these trailblazers. As I witness their dedication, it ignites a fire within me and reaffirms that real change comes from those who don’t just talk but actively lead the charge. These gatherings energize me, reinforcing my belief in the power of action and the continuous journey toward true liberation.”

Aside from giving people skills and resources needed to combat the threats on their lives, the conference is also an opportunity to allow people to show up as their full authentic selves in a safe space that is not only welcoming but also validating. People do not have to worry about if they adhere to a certain professional standard or if they are able to speak boilerplate jargon. At Creating Change they need to have a passion for the community, an ability to contribute to the work as they see it, and the courage to show up. Conversations range from how to dismantle oppressive systems and build reflective democracy to how we can take care of our aging population.

“At the Creating Change Conference, we unite as LGBTQIA+ visionaries… It’s more than learning best practices; it’s about forging an intentional community, fueled by a shared passion to level the playing fields for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Together, we create meaningful change and amplify our collective voice,” said Duane Binion, co-Executive Director of True T Pittsburgh

During the conferece there is a multicultural, intergenerational skillshare where attendees can present their individual issues and connect them to the attack on the broader queer community. The conference all provides an opportunity to give feedback and critique the information shared thus far as well as spotlight information that is lacking. There is an ability to provide instruction on an equitable footing without fear of repercussion and pushback. This is an example of why organizing is a way to dismantle the harm that faces our community while also building up a coalition of people who are able to work together, despite rising Supremacy and threats to their lives, to build a just future with equity and care. 

“Convenings like Creating Change are imperative to queer liberation in these United States. As many queer advocates exist and are making their presence felt in our hyper-politicized landscape, we are still far and in between, both socially and professionally. We need these moments to not only network, but to marinate in community, and the existing achievements made thus far as a community,” said Ethan Rhabb of 1Hood Media.

No matter how we try to approach or avoid the issue, the truth of the matter is that our beloved queer community is under constant attack, and we have to fight battles that we long thought resolved. This generation of queer youth has fewer rights than the previous generation. For the first time in history, the rights that some of us grew up with will not be passed down to those coming up. Even worse, the rights we fought for so vehemently are under a legislative attack that is being reinforced through the judiciary.

Whether it’s as simple as holding Pride or as impactful as allowing people to retire with dignity and a group home with their partner, or even the ability to choose your medical provider, the issues that are facing our community are vast and so must be our response. From all across the globe, queer people are meeting, skill sharing, and building coalitions to build a united front of a new rainbow coalition of voters and advocates who are unapologetically themselves and who know they deserve a world with queer power, queer action, and queer joy.

Miracle Jones is a community organizer and queer activist who works in the Pittsburgh area to advocate for equity along the intersections of gender, race, and class.Her work focuses on implementing abolition based principles and transformative justice through writing, policy, and advocacy.  Headshot by Emmai Alaquiva.