Revolution finds fire at Creating Change 2014

James Clementi file photo on December 11, 2013. Photo by Peter Frycki.

James Clementi at opening of Mitchell-Gold store in Paramus NJ in 2013. Photo by Peter FryckiThe 26th annual Creating Change conference, organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was held for five days this past January in Houston, Texas with record numbers of close to 4000 in attendance.

The Creating Change Conference is the largest gathering of LGBT activists in the country, produced yearly by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. The five-day program featured over 390 workshops, training sessions, meetings, and events. It also featured four plenary sessions.

Among the many activists was James Clementi, brother of Tyler Clementi, the New Jersey gay youth whose life and untimely death are remembered and honored by the work of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

I had the opportunity to speak with James, and he left me with an entirely positive feeling about the future of our young, up-and-coming LGBT leaders. We discussed trans actress Laverne Cox’s inspiring keynote speech, which is available on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force YouTube Channel, along with other videos from the conference.

Of Cox’s speech James told me, “She takes her own experiences and life to make a point about trans inclusion. She really tells her story from the heart.”
Speaking for myself, one of the key points of this year’s Creating Change conference springs from a line that leapt out at me from Laverne Cox’s keynote. When she told a warm and welcoming audience, “Loving trans people, I believe is a revolutionary act.”

As a news and social media activist, I would expand the message to say that the revolutionary act is LGBT people loving, and learning and truly connecting with each other, and that revolution has found a home at Creating Change.

Clementi said the Tyler Clementi Foundation, guided by the life and story of his sibling “promotes safe, inclusive, and respectful social environments in homes, schools, campuses, churches, and the digital world for vulnerable youth, LGBT youth, and their allies,”

He said the Foundation envisions a world that embraces all members of society with human dignity and unconditional love regardless of sexual orientation or differences, real or perceived.

He is well aware of all of the many reactions he has seen at Creating Change. “Creating Change really validated the mission because it pointed out how much farther the LGBT population has to go before we can say that we have achieved true equality.”

“The message I took away was that there is no homogenous ‘gay community.’ We represent all facets of humanity and there is room for all of us in the community,” said Clementi. “Those of us who hold more power (white, cisgender males) need to be aware of our privilege and work hard to include all LGBTQ people in our organizations, and in our safe spaces.”