Photo Credits: Campus Progress
Wednesday July 6th, I attended the 2011 Campus Progress National Conference with Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. The Conference gathered over 1000 young people to learn and share perspectives on social justice and political change. Mara spoke at a panel entitled “The Current State of LGBT Movements,” alongside Trina Olson, Senior Training Manager at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Kenyon Farrow, member of the executive committee for the Center for Gay & Lesbian Studies and former executive director of Queers for Economic Justice.
What is the current state of LGBT movements? Not well, says the panelists. Despite recent high-profile victories such as marriage equality in New York, there is reason to be concerned about the direction of the movement as a whole. There was universal agreement among the panelists that the money funding marriage equality efforts is drying up. Mara was straightforward: there is simply too much focus on this particular issue. Trina Olson and Kenyon Farrow expressed similar beliefs, referencing the many different queer issues that still wait to be addressed. Kenyon pointed out that the image of the white gay person is becoming “normalized” while the queer community continues to divide itself along race and class lines. Mara also emphasized this point, saying, “If you are not doing racial justice work, you are not doing queer work, or at least you are not doing it well.”
Listening to the panelists, it was easy to agree with what they were saying. If you turn to any major news source, the LGBT issue that is getting real coverage is same-sex marriage. But studies such as Injustice at Every Turn or GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey demonstrate that there many queer people who still fight for access to basic rights and humane treatment.
View more pictures of the conference here.