Above: photo by Miriam Mimi Madrid Puga (MMMP)
Reflections on Our First Creating Change Conference

By Milan and BreakOUT!
On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, four BreakOUT! staff took an amazing road trip to Houston, Texas for the 26th Annual Creating Change LGBT Conference.  Over 4,000 people attended this year.
Our road trip was rocky in the beginning- three of us were supposed to be flying out that morning but due to the cold weather, our flights were all either delayed or cancelled so we jumped in the car instead to take the road trip to Texas.  Once we got in the car though, we realized that they had declared a state of emergency and I-10 was closed down until right outside the Texas border!  Though we didn’t see one sheet of ice the whole trip, we got on Highway 90 and it was smooth from there.  We even met up with our friends from the Missouri GSA Network at a gas station in a tiny Louisiana town and caravanned part of the way there.  There was plenty of highway in front of us so what other way to kill the time but to have plenty of conversation!  After 7 1/2 hours, we finally made it to our sanctuary.
Above: BreakOUT! Organizer, Milan, with Trans Sisterhood Panel and Audience
The next morning was the very first day of the conference and of course, I was excited so I jumped out my bed and Nate and I headed over to the Hilton so we could get our conference badges. Once we got there, my first reaction was, “OMG is there a drag ball going on up in here?” because I saw LGBTQ folks everywhere.  I started to get a bit nervous because it was Thursday morning and I knew I had to speak on the Trans Women of Color Sisterhood panel Friday morning. I remember thinking, “Damn I ain’t never spoke in front this many people before. ” With my nerves getting the best of me, I ran into our Advisory Board Member and Women With a Vision Director, Mama D (aka Deon Haywood). Thank God I ran into Mama D because she knows just the right things to say!  With my confidence back up, I was ready.
Thursday was the first ever pre-institute on police and state-based violence to happen at Creating Change, From Stonewall to Stop & Frisk.  It was co-convened by Lambda Legal, Streetwise and Safe, PrYSM, and a coalition we belong to, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.  Our Youth Organizer, Derwin, helped facilitate the day-long institute, which you can see more about below, thanks to Miriam Mimi Madrid Puga of BSeedz!

When Friday morning rolled around, I was up bright and early because I was ready to speak my truth- our truth– the experiences of trans women of color and the violence we face for being only who we are, “bold & beautiful!”  With my talking points in my hand, I walked into that Grand Ballroom with my head held high because I’m proud to be a transwoman of color, despite what others may say about us.

Once the conversation got going, I threw my talking points to the side because I didn’t need them. I had it like a cat in a bag! I slayed that panel and I was also honored to have been sitting next to some other amazing transwomen of color doing badass work in our community.  Those beautiful, bold women were Bamby Salcedo, Cecilia C. Chung, Arianna Lint, and Andrea Jenkins. After that, the rest was history.
Finally, on Saturday evening, BreakOUT! and Streetwise and Safe launched our National Know Your Rights Network, which was a huge success.  Major props to Derwin & Mitchyll for holding that down and making it happen.  Stay tuned for more info on the network, including the announcement of official network members, the name for the network, and our next steps toward building a stronger community of resilient LGBTQ young people staying safe with the police!
NKYR Palm Card
Much love also to Nate for being with us and supporting us in every way he knew how throughout the conference.  Houston was hella fun, but spending time and just making those connections with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters was even better.
Until 2015, Creating Change!