May 1, 2010 | 2010 Spring - The (First) Youth Issue, Articles

A Personal Perspective

By Lauren E. Spencer

Held in Dallas, Texas, this year’s conference, the Task Force’s 22nd and my third, inspired me, but also illuminated the work that lies ahead of us, particularly within our own community and movement.

What I love most about Creating Change is the wide range of identities that I encounter there. As a queer woman of color, I frequently find myself in the minority, either racially or sexually, in LGBTQ communities and communities of color respectively. On the opening day of the conference, I attended a day-long event titled “Building Bridges across Our Communities,” which was an organizing institute for activists of color. I also spent a great deal of time in the People of Color Hospitality suite. I cannot fully articulate what I experience in spaces like these; it is best explained as a deep sense of belonging. I connected with people who, mere days ago, were complete strangers, but have since become close friends and even family. Being multiracial, it was of particular significance for me to be in a space that included people of many races and colors. I didn’t feel like I was a less valid member of a monoracial community because of my mixed heritage; I am of color and subsequently, a full member of the queer community of color.

My time in these spaces was not without conflict, however. In both the day-long institute and the hospitality suite, the need for queer people of color to have their own safe space was not recognized and respected; white conference attendees came to both spaces and some were argumentative when asked to leave.

This year’s conference was the first Creating Change to feature a Bisexual Hospitality suite. I was delighted to see that the need for bisexual people to have a safe space and be visible was finally recognized. I loved connecting with members of our community in workshop or hospitality suite and recognizing them throughout the rest of the conference.

I experienced biphobia in Dallas; while at a club, I was talking to a woman who was clearly interested in me. When our conversation shifted to our coming out stories, she mentioned that she’d never been with men. Her demeanor briefly, but visibly changed when she learned that some of my sexual partners had been men. What I experienced at the nightclub is just one example of how I and other bisexual people have been perceived as less queer and a less valid part of the queer community because we don’t have solely same-sex attractions. Similar to the way that I experienced racial validation in the POC suite, having a bi space at Creating Change challenged the perception that bisexuals are less queer, sending the message that our visibility is important and bisexual people are full members of the queer community. It is merely a step in the right direction, however. Here’s to more visibility in our communities in the coming year and at Creating Change 2011!

Lauren is an activist and student who focuses on intersecting identities, the connections among systems of oppression and LGBTQ communities of color.

Featured image: Robyn, Amanda, Lividia, Lauren & Chrysanthe

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