Em-URGE-ing Voices

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Creating Change: The Importance of Belonging

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February 5, 2014

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend Creating Change 2014, a conference hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in Houston, Texas. I must admit, I entered the conference with certain expectations created and based off of my experience with previous conferences. But my expectations were completely blown out of the water. Creating Change was more than I could have ever hoped for. It was a safe space. It was a place for activism. It was place to see people like myself and those different from me come together and embrace our similarities and celebrate our differences.

Never in my life had I been able to be surrounded by other queer identifying people who looked like me. For someone in that position, seeing so many queer people of color in one place is life changing. They knew some of the struggles I’d experienced as a queer person of color, and I knew some of their struggles.

I grew up in an interracial household with my Black mother and Hispanic father. I grew up thinking that because I was colored there was no way I could be queer. Gayness was very much a “white-person’s thing” in my mind as well as the minds of my parents and siblings. I grew up feeling the need to separate pieces of myself, sometimes I was Black Kayla, and other times Hispanic Kayla, and, not so often, I had the chance to be Queer Kayla.

So to have the chance to be at Creating Change in a city just as diverse as the community of queer people in attendance was absolutely life changing. So see Laverne Cox, a transgender black woman from a single parent household, as the keynote speaker of this conference gave me a validation that I only wish I could have experienced when I was a ten year old girl struggling with my own sexuality and ethnic identities.

Creating Change’s consistent advocating and promotion of racial and ethnic diversity provided a sense of belonging and confidence. I was able to feel beautiful and not fetishized, accepted and not tokenized. I felt like I was home. And that, for a young, queer, colored woman from the south, is not something I ever expected to find in that small corner of Houston, Texas.

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