“None of us are free until all of us are free.”

Day 1:

After a long day of traveling, I’m finally in Minneapolis… cold and snowy Minneapolis. I’m thanking all of my lucky stars for the skywalk/tunnel system here, though.. We walked to various stores, restaurants, and conference meetings without even setting a foot outside!

As soon as we walked into the Hilton, I knew we had officially found the Creating Change Conference. OMG queers galore!  Within the first 15 minutes, I saw tables for AIDS/Lifecycle, sex positivity, transgender equality, GLSEN, and various affirming church communities. Everywhere I looked there were queers. What else could one ask for?

I had my first look at what the conference will be like during the opening session. The major theme of the Plenary session was religion and supporting the intersection between religious and queer identities. Let me start by saying that I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I sit and meditate on a regular basis, and when I do, I transcend my physical being and reach a new level of awareness. We may call this different things–I call it my awareness of mankind and our purpose/connection, you may call it your relationship with God.

Despite being nonreligious, the Plenary session moved me in many ways. On a basic level, even for those of us who are nonreligious, most people in the LGBT movement understand the importance of bridging the gap between the religious and queer communities. After all, a lot of our “opposition” comes from those spewing religious and spiritual violence against LGBT folks in the name of God.

On a deeper level, the religious figures (a Muslim leader, Rabbi, and two Christian pastors), left me pondering the idea that my nonreligious connection with the world is the same as their religious connection with the world. I left feeling that whatever you believe or how you identify, we are all fighting the same struggle and are all here for the same purpose.

That realization, I believe, is the key to the moving forward in the LGBT movement for equality. Bridging the gap between the nonreligious and religious queers is essential for unity as a community. Without this unity, I do not think we will be able to reach the religious cis-gender/heterosexual community. Only after doing this, will we be able to push the concept that homophobia is theologically irrelevant and that being religious does not mean you must be homophobic.

Blog on Day 2 to come soon!

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