I hadn’t been in 15 years!  But last week I packed up and headed for Dallas to the Creating Change Conference, an annual gathering of the glbtq clan.

My 13 year old said, “I don’t get it.  What is it, again?  It’s some dance and comedy, some classes, some lectures…”  I said, “It’s kind of GA for gay people.”  “Ohhhh…” she said.

So, how was it?  It was much younger, much less white, and much more ‘genderqueer’ than it was 15 years ago.  Clearly the margins of the margins are being identified as leaders and visionaries, and they are coming into the center of this movement.

There were moments that I really did feel as if I was at GA.  When the youth had a panel, and basically told us oldsters how we had failed them and what we had done wrong, I felt THRILLED.  This is how a movement should work!  New leadership, new vision , constant evolution.

(How have we failed them, you wonder?  Well, they said, focusing on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and marriage equality completely overlooks the realities they are living with.  GLBT youth are estimated to comprise 25-40% of homeless youth, just for instance.  How is the glbt establishment taking leadership in addressing this epidemic?)

Then there were moments I felt like the chaperone at a dance, standing at the edges watching others have a great time, longing to put on my jammies and hunker in for my own more solitary enjoyment.

It was thrilling to see all of the faith based organizing going on.  MANY UUs were present, and actually there were a number of workshops led by UUs.  The staff from the UU-UNO office led a stellar workshop on their work, and made it very real by introducing two gay men who are refugees from Iraq.

Hated in their own country for their sexual orientation, these two brave souls went to SYRIA—where one spent eight months and the other four years!—waiting to get papers to come to the US.  However, once they arrived here, they were put into a housing complex in Houston with the same people who hated them back home.  Their only place of support in the US?  Catholic Charities!

The UU-UNO folks are focused on creating a registry of gay immigrants so that no one else will be in that kind of situation.  Meanwhile, they have paired up these gay men with the leaders of the glbt center in Houston.  I’d love to see our churches take the lead on this.

That’s what Creating Change always does for me—it makes me rethink what I’m doing, and refocus on what’s important.  To all the UUs who were there, let’s take all that energy to GA in Minneapolis and see what we can build together!

About the Author
Rev. Meg Riley

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