Creating Change conference kicks off in Baltimore, Md.

The 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality kicked off in Baltimore, MD. today. Highlights of the conference include ‘State of the LGBT Movement’ address, speeches by NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, a Capitol Hill Lobby Day, a faith convening, and much more!

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous.

More than 2,500 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates from across the country will converge in Baltimore, Md., on Jan. 25-29 for the 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. It is the largest convening of LGBT activists and allies in the country.

Benjamin Jealous, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, will deliver the opening plenary keynote speech on Thursday, Jan. 26. Jealous is an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights.

A major conference draw is the annual “State of the Movement” address, which will be given by National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey on Friday, Jan. 27. She will present a vision for the year ahead in the struggle for LGBT equality, and for social and economic justice.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will address Creating Change on Saturday, Jan. 28, where he will discuss federal efforts to advance the rights and well-being of LGBT people and their families at HUD and beyond.

Also on Saturday, there will be a plenary panel focusing on international LGBT issues, a topic that is making national and global headlines of late following a Presidential Memorandum from President Obama and a historic speech from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the importance of international LGBT human rights. Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, will moderate a discussion featuring LGBT organizers from around the world.

Other conference highlights

The conference kicks off with hundreds of LGBT rights supporters converging on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 26, for Creating Change’s inaugural Lobby Day. They will advocate for passage of critical legislation in the areas of employment nondiscrimination, pay equity, anti-bullying and safe schools. A coalition of LGBT groups, as well as the ACLU, SEIU and the American Association of University Women, will join to support and sponsor the Creating Change Lobby Day.

Faith leaders and laypeople from numerous denominations and spiritual practices will convene for Practice Spirit, Do Justice, held in conjunction with the conference. Religious-based arguments are often used to undermine LGBT equality. Participants will strategize on how to bring more faith allies into the LGBT movement and how best to counter religious-based bigotry.

Actor and singer Wilson Cruz will close out the conference on Sunday, Jan. 29, with Love, Child…, a musical performance. Cruz has earned both critical acclaim and a loyal fan base throughout his career in television, film and stage productions. He won the hearts of audiences with his portrayal of Rickie Vasquez, the first openly gay teen on primetime television, in the ABC series My So-Called Life. Onstage, he took over the role of “Angel” both on Broadway and in the West Coast premiere of Rent.


The National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change also features hundreds of skills-building workshops, more than 15 additional daylong institutes, networking sessions and much more.

There will be sessions on topics such as immigration equality, lessons learned for organizing, racial justicesocial media trainingonline campaigning, and an interactive art space! You can tweet about your experience at the conference, or follow the conversation on twitter by using the #cc12 hashtag.