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Closing Plenary: Creating Change Conference 2023

Closing Plenary: The Future Is Now

This year’s closing plenary was one of the best in the conference’s 35-year history, and we also presented the Leather Leadership Award. Our guests discussed their own LGBTQ+ advocacy efforts and personal stories while also discussing how the entertainment business and culture can be more inclusive and raise awareness of nuanced queer experiences promoting social change. Discussion moderated by Task Force Executive Director Kierra Johnson.

Dyllón Burnside

Performer, Songwriter, Activist

Dyllón Burnside is best known to audiences for his starring role as ‘Ricky’ on Ryan Murphy’s Emmy-nominated FX series, “Pose.” He is currently reunited with Ryan Murphy and can be seen in the record-breaking Netflix limited series “Dahmer,” in which he plays one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims

In theater, Dyllón starred in the Broadway productions of “Thoughts of a Colored Man,’ and ‘Holler if Ya Hear Me’, a hip-hop musical inspired by the music and lyrics of Tupac Shakur. He has appeared in NBC’s “Peter Pan Live!” and the HBO series “High Maintenance,” all while completing his final year at the prestigious CAP21 Conservatory for music theater and The New School where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and Writing.

As a singer/songwriter, Burnside has released three chart-topping solo singles, “Silence,” “Heaven” and “Superpowers” and he is finishing his debut album. The Pensacola, Florida native began performing professionally at the age of 12 as a member of the Hip-Hop/R&B boy band 3D. He has toured the country performing original music alongside folks like Stevie Wonder and Rihanna in such venues as Madison Square Garden and the Nokia Theater. Burnside performed at the US Opens Men’s final and headlined and produced a sold-out benefit concert for GLSEN at the Cutting Room in New York City.

In addition to his performance work, Burnside is also passionate about producing quality arts content that promotes social change. His work as a producer includes film, theatrical and musical events that serve and/or shed light on marginalized communities. He has been honored by GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign for his continuing dedication to LGBTQ+ rights. Dyllón also hosted and produced “Prideland,” a one-hour special and short-form digital series for PBS that received a Daytime Emmy and GLAAD Media Award nomination.

Angelica Ross

Founder & CEO of TransTech, Actress, Singer-Songwriter & Human Rights Advocate

Angelica Ross is a leading figure of success and strength in the movement for human rights advocacy focused on Transgender and racial equality. A fan favorite on FX’s award-winning hit POSE plus both the ninth season of Ryan Murphy’s FX hit American Horror Story: 1984 and the double feature tenth season as The Chemist in Part 1 and Theta in Part 2. Angelica also returned to her love for music with her debut music video and single, Only You.

Angelica’s acting breakthrough came in the form of Ryan Murphy’s award-winning FX hit series, Pose — which follows NYC’s Black and Latino LGBTQ+ and gender-nonconforming ballroom culture scene in the 80’s and early 90’s. The show features the largest transgender cast ever for a scripted series, making TV history! Vanity Fair raved that, “Angelica Ross steals many of her scenes as ‘Candy’,” the brashest member of the ‘House of Abundance.’

Since studying acting at Florida Atlantic University, Angelica has appeared across numerous mediums, including film, television, and theater and one project, the Emmy-nominated (Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama) web series Her Story, received special recognition at the GLAAD Media Awards. Angelica and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah were also honored with a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Talk Show Episode for her interview segment. Angelica also appeared in Transparent (Amazon), Claws (TNT), Doubt (CBS), and Danger & Eggs (Amazon) and starred as ‘Georgia’ in the award-winning documentary Framing Agnes, that took home the 2022 Sundance Festival’s coveted Next Innovator and Audience Award. Miss Ross also works behind the camera! She has executive produced and appeared in the Daytime Emmy-nominated web series King Ester (2019), and in the short film, Missed Connections (2017), which went on to be an official selection at the Outfest LGBTQ Film Festival, the La Femme International Film Festival, and the Baltimore International Black Film Festival.

Angelica Ross is the President of Miss Ross, Inc. and founder of TransTech Social Enterprises, an award-winning program that helps people lift themselves out of poverty through technical training, digital work creating a social impact, resource-sharing and bringing economic empowerment to marginalized communities with a focus on Black queer and trans.

Master Taíno

Leather Leadership Awardee

Master Taíno is a Puerto Rican Leatherman who has been active in the Leather community for over three decades. He has a Leather Family of 13 members, including his slave, Paul. He founded MTTA, Inc., a non-profit organization that runs MTTA Academy and the Master/slave Conference. He was the Executive Producer of MsC (2004-2022) and director of MTTA Academy (2001-2019). He has been an educator on BDSM and Master/slave relationships for over two decades in the US and abroad. Since 2015, he has been involved with the kink community in Costa Rica where he has a second residence. He has been honored with several awards. He has been a member of the Defenders LLC and SigMa, and an associate of Men of Discipline and ONYX Mid-Atlantic. He founded MAsT Washington in 1999, and is a member of MAsT San José, Costa Rica.

Sandra Valls

Plenary Programs Emcee

Sandra Valls is a comic, actor, singer, writer, and badass. Her unique mix of physical comedy and brilliant storytelling make it easy to see why the Los Angeles Times calls Sandra “Talented and Hilarious”! Curve Magazine named her One of the Most Influential Queer Women in the Country and One of the Top 10 Funniest Lesbian Comics. Latina Magazine voted Sandra One of the Top 33 Bad Ass Comics with Latin Roots and Go Magazine feels she’s One of the Top 100 Women We Love.

She co-wrote and co-stars in the critically acclaimed Off Broadway show, LATINA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL at the famous Soho Playhouse. Her other television credits include but are not limited to The Latin Diva of Comedy, Gay and Lesbian Comedy Jam (Showtime), Nick Mom Night Out (Nickelodeon), One Night Stand Up (LOGO), Comic’s Unleashed with Byron Allen (ABC), Habla! (HBO), Que Locos (Galavision), and BET’s Comic View.

Sandra is also a favorite onstage as an emcee. Her hosting credits include Creating Change Conference, TEDX Women, Women in Medicine: Lesbian Health Fund Conference, San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce Coming Out Day, Equality San Antonio – Spirit of Texas Brunch, Latino Institute at Creating Change, La Femme Film Awards (11 years in a row), Power UP 10 Amazing Gay Women and Men Gala, and GLAAD Awards and London Lesbian Film Festival…to name a few plus countless Pride Festivals.

Always a human rights activist, Sandra was also honored in her hometown of Laredo, Texas with the 2013 International Woman’s Day Award for being a trailblazer and empowering women and was chosen by Unidos-The National Latino LGBT Human Rights Organization to be part of their prestigious list for Project VISIBLE Latinos LGBT in the USA and Puerto Rico: Out in Leadership. GLAAD has honored Sandra’s work at Mun2 with a Special Recognition Award for her groundbreaking achievements in production for promoting fair and accurate representation of the LGBTQI community in English-speaking Latino television.

Furthermore, The California Senate presented Sandra with a Certificate of Recognition for her relentless support of people in recovery in the LGBTQI community as exemplified by her leadership in producing “One Gay at a Time”, a comedy show that celebrates people in recovery. Sandra is also an actor, singer, and published author (Out on the Edge: America’s Rebel Comics)