HRC Blog

What happens when 1,500+ LGBT and allied students get together? MBLGTACC.

HRC’s Lindsey Taylor and Aaron Teskey with students from Saginaw Valley State University (MI) On the top on my list of things to do at MBLGTACC 2010: learn how to say the name. In case you are not one of the 1,500+ queer and allied students who attends each year, the Midwest BLGTA College Conference is the largest conference of its kind in the country. It also has a tricky acronym that is hard to pronounce for the uninitiated (check out the video below to see how).

I had a blast at MBLGTACC ’09, but was especially excited to head to the home of the Badgers (aka University of Wisconsin-Madison) for this year’s conference with fellow HRC staffer Lindsey Taylor. Thanks to my brother, sister-in-law and high school friend, I’ve had a number of chances to visit the great city of Madison and knew that adding thousands of LGBT and allied students into the mix would only make things more fun.

Thousands of students packed in for the start of the conference (photo by @LoriBerquam) Perhaps the most hilarious part was just seeing our hotel filled with young LGBT and allied students. We must have waited 10 minutes for the elevator to drop our suitcases (and boxes of HRC publications and goodies) in our room because there were so many students. Coming back down for the start of the conference, we had to take the service elevator and exit through the kitchen! The ballroom where the welcome and opening keynote took place was equally impressive. Dean of Students Lori Berquam kicked things off by offering a warm welcome and then tweeted a hello from students to openly-lesbian Chancellor Carolyn “Biddy” Martin. If you take a look at the photo she tweeted, that’s about only half of the packed ballroom – pretty impressive, right? Up next was an eye-opening look at many of transgender photographer Loren Cameron’s portraits of other transgender people in various stages of their transitions. mblgtacc10_3On Saturday, we were up bright and early for a day of tabling. We brought plenty of resources, stickers and other goodies for students to take back to their campuses and share with friends. This year, students were very interested to hear about HRC’s Generation Equality Scholarships (for which we just launched the application), the Buying for Equality guide and internships across 20 program areas at HRC (which Lindsey and I both took advantage of back in the day). My favorite tabling memory was when a group of students from Living Proud at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan told us we were “famous” because we occasionally anchor Queerly Speaking, HRC’s weekly shot of news for young people. Steve and Ginny told us they watch Queerly Speaking each week during their group meeting as a way to keep up on what’s happening and to get involved:As we heard from many students over the weekend, there’s nothing quite like MBLGTACC. It’s a chance to learn, meet lots of amazing students from all different backgrounds, experience an incredible sense of community and help push equality forward on campus and beyond. I said it last year, but it is so empowering to be surrounded by so many activists and you can’t help but leave feeling hopeful for the future. It was Lindsey’s first time in the Midwest, and she had a unique take on things:

This was my first trip to the Midwest – and boy did Madison and MBLGTACC surpass my expectations! Aaron and I met so many wonderful students who were all excited about queer advocacy. From meeting my new favorite Queerly Speaking fans to watching people cross-country ski in the streets around the capitol building, I would say my first trip to the Midwest was a grand success! Now if only I could get some cheese curds in DC...

As for me, I’m going to keep practicing saying MBLGTACC and hopefully I’ll be able to throw it around like the best of them at MBLGTACC 2011 at the University of Michigan! Oh, and I’ll be sure to bring even more HRC stickers.

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