An ally is anyone who advocates for and supports members of a community other than their own. At the 18th annual Northeast Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Conference, hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology April 12–14, the ally can be you.
The conference aims to celebrate, educate and empower LGBT community members and leaders, including straight allies, to become supportive agents of change. The conference features a series of workshops, films, panels and speakers, including keynote Zach Wahls, an LGBT rights activist whose address to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on redefining marriage in Iowa went viral in 2011.
“The conference theme—The Ally is You—refers not only to the supportive people outside of the LGBT community, but also to those within who make an effort to include and support identities and cultures other than their own,” says Henry Hinesley, coordinator of RIT’s GLBT Center and organizer for the event. “The conference will encompass the topics of inclusion, equality, identity, culture, ethnicity, race, politics and socio-economics.”
The event features multiple tracks for students, administrators and professionals who work with LGBT students, as well as anyone interested in learning more. A Deaf Culture track is also featured at this year’s conference. The registrants arriving from more than 12 universities throughout New York and the northeast can also attend open networking events designed to build lasting personal and professional relationships among participants.
Featured speakers include: RIT President Bill Destler; Empire State Pride Agenda co-chair and RIT alumni Frank Selvaggi ’79, ’81; Ugandan LGBT rights activist Daniel Ngecha; bisexual activist Robyn Ochs; comedian Jennifer Joy Pawlitschek; RIT Vice President for Student Affairs Mary-Beth Cooper; historian and author of Queer America, Vicki Eacklor; and NCAA athlete Kye Allums.
Registration for the conference is open to the public. For more information and to register, go to nelgbtc.com, call 585-475-6355 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign language interpreters will be available at most sessions and may be requested as part of registration. For information about becoming a vendor or sponsor, call 585-475-2091.