With more than 4,000 people in attendance, the 26th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change finished up in Houston, Texas, after running Jan. 29-Feb. 2.
Hosted by the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force ( NGLTF ), it pulled people from around the countryâ€”and worldâ€”to offer activists, organizers, students, elders and all other folks across the LGBTQ community a space to share knowledge, get energy and collaborate.
Programming started, as usual, with two days of daylong institutes, offering attendees 25 options for intensive training on issues such as racial justice and college campus organizing. The foci of this year’s conference centered on HIV/AIDS and ending violence against transgender women.
Dawn Clark Netsch has been a fierce advocate for the LGBT population before it included powerful fundraising dollars, significant election votes or even safety. Netsch pushed for a non-discrimination law a full 20 years before it passed, and has been ahead of the trend on most other issues.
The former Illinois senator and comptroller celebrated her 85th birthday Sept. 16. Windy City Times sat down with her in her longtime Northwestern University office. ( She is a professor at the university’s law school. )
As the interview started, Netsch was sifting through old campaign materials. Among them was one of her newsletters from her time in the state legislature. The pieceâ€”dating back to the early ’80s, when she was a state lawmakerâ€”mentions her endorsement by the Greater Chicago Gay and Lesbian Democrats. Her acknowledgment of the group’s support was among the first such instances for an LGBT political group. Netsch didn’t think anything of itâ€”they were supporting her, after all.
Pedestrians mingle through the streets, speaking a combination of English and French. Bars, clubs, restaurants and stores are numerous up and down the street, offering everything from bookstores to the gay leather clubs.
The scent of early autumn is in the air, and the weather is crisp but comfortable. This is the gay village, or Le Village, in Montreal.
Those who come here are quick to give reasons as why.
“It’s very different. Even though [ Le Village has ] such a large population, you still feel you’re in a tight-knit population,” said Jesse Corcoron, 24, a Montreal resident.