The National LGBTQ Task Force sees consistent growth in interest in gay rights; the struggle is no where near over

Re: James Kirchick and the battle for gay rights

James Kirchick’s article begins with him wondering whether he “wandered into the wrong conference” when he attended the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference in Washington, DC in 2018. Given the article that followed, it’s clear that he was lost and remains so. He references only three workshop titles out of the hundreds of sessions offered including one about fat acceptance in the LGBTQ community and another about asexuality. While no three sessions are representative of the vast amount of content at the conference, it is curious that he chose these three, unless one considers the argument he is trying to make: that the struggle for gay rights is over.

The Creating Change Conference is the oldest and largest LGBTQ activist conference in the country. It is produced by the National LGBTQ Task Force, which was founded in 1973 as the National Gay Task Force. To understand why the Task Force updated its name is to also understand the magic and beauty of Creating Change. Our community is diverse, resilient and forward-thinking. Since its founding in 1988, the conference has driven change in culture, politics, and identity. Tens of thousands of people have attended the conference over the past 31 years with most describing it in terms such as “life-changing.” Kirchick’s experience says more about him and his lack of openness or understanding than it does about the focus of the LGBTQ movement today.

Kirchick is correct about one thing: our movement has changed because we have won some key battles, including marriage. He is also correct that we still lack basic statewide nondiscrimination laws in well over half of all states and at the federal level. There’s still a mountain of work to do there, and that is certainly the work of the National LGBTQ Task Force and the Creating Change Conference. We have a campaign for exactly this called the All of Me. All the Time, where we are building for full non-discrimination protections for all of us.

Also part of our work is combatting the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills that have popped up in state legislatures across the country since the passage of marriage equality. And we are losing many of these battles. For example, a handful of states have signed  bills into law allowing state funded adoption and foster care agencies to refuse placing children with LGBTQ parents if they choose to. In other words, the struggle for gay rights, as Kirchick claims, is not over. While public opinion is increasingly on our side, as he points out, the laws and the culture have not reached full equality.

Most importantly, Kirchick’s article misses the point. What is beautiful about the Task Force’s Creating Change Conference is that it envisions a world where all people are free to be themselves in all of their queerness and at the intersections of all of our identities. After all, our movement was born 50 years ago as a revolution striving for liberation. LGBTQ people desire freedom from heteronormativity, sexual and gender-based oppression, and yes, even freedom from fat-shaming, which is why the conference has so many offerings. Our standing-room-only attendance workshops on LGBTQ non-discrimination, racial justice, and trans inclusion is also indicative of how hungry our movement leaders and organizers are for skills and tools to build a more inclusive movement. That’s the real point of where we are as a movement: still building, still growing, still relevant to everyone’s liberation

Andy Garcia
Director of Creating Change