Creating Change Day Three: ‘We're Not Just In This Movement For Ourselves’

November 14, 2004

Dr. Mary Frances Berry Affirms Sexual Freedom as a Human Right; Amber Hollibaugh Calls for End to Ageism in the LGBT Movement

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications

After Doria Roberts received the Creating Change Award from the Task Force, she showed her appreciation by delivering an inspiring performance. Weaving a background tapestry of interlocking musical lines and the words of activist Angela Davis using her acoustic guitar and a sequencer, Roberts then jumped down from the stage and led the audience in rhythmic exchanges on why they should be activists:

"I am lost in a world that's not looking for me."

"If my body wants to lay next to her body it's nobody's business but mine."

"This bridge called my back is no longer for hire."

These lines interspersed with the crowd's response of "Why, why, why?"

Doria Roberts, a founding member of the Queerstock festival, a performer at LadyFest, and a contributing artist for Rock for Choice and Rock the Vote has attended the conference since 2001, performing and leading workshops for youth.

Affirming Sexual Freedom as a Human Right

Following on the heels of Roberts, Dr. Mary Frances Berry talked about the need to "affirm sexual freedom as a human right." Dr. Berry is a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, the chairperson of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. She spoke of "the story" that society accepts about a given group of people, and that the struggle for full inclusion depends on changing the story that people tell themselves about that group. Dr. Berry admonished the audience, "If you get ahead of the story that the public is willing to accept, you'll lose." Dr. Berry also called on those at the conference to see their work in a greater context: "When you're in a movement, you're not just in a movement for yourself, you're in a movement for all the people who aren't able to or can't speak for themselves."

An End to Ageism in the LGBT Movement

Continuing on the theme of seeing the movement in a greater context, Amber Hollibaugh introduced herself as a "feminist, poor white-trash, high-femme dyke" to the enthusiastic applause of those in attendance. As Director of National Initiatives for SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment) she spoke of the need to develop an equality movement in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can contribute for the entirety of their lives. She illuminated the Conference on the issues of LGBT aging, including economic hardship, access to healthcare, non-biological family ties that struggle for recognition, sexual freedom, and representation of LGBT identity in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. "We are working in a movement that assures everyone value, dignity, and integrity when we are young and old," Hollibaugh said, "let's commit to something that each one of us can grow in."

All three speakers expressed their anger and frustration at the outcome of the recent election, but found the Creating Change Conference to be an invigorating resurrection of hope. They stressed the need for the LGBT community to come together for support and in resistance of the current administration, and to dare to imagine a different future of freedom and equality. To make this new future a reality, the speakers emphasized the need to see the LGBT movement in terms of the larger struggle for sexual, gender, economic, and racial justice.

The Creating Change Conference will close today with an address from Saint Louis native Keith Boykin. 2,500 LGBT activists will take away from the Creating Change conference a reenergized spirit to meet upcoming battles and reinvigorated to build the strength and power of their state and local organizations.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.