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Virginia Rendler

Attending MBLGTACC: Year Two

by Virginia Rendler | Feb 27, 2018

    So, last year I wrote a blog about attending the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference. Last year, it was in downtown Chicago, on Navy Pier, and it was incredible. It is powerful to be in a space with endless amounts of diversity and intersectionality, to spend time with people who are able to be open about who they are and unconditionally supportive of other in that community. Something else that made last year great was that Chicago is only three hours away! 

   This year, MBLGTACC was in Omaha, Nebraska. The van ride was about 10 hours and we had to leave campus at 5 am to register. Despite this absolutely harrowing trial (I slept the whole way) it made it that much more exciting to arrive on the stunning University of Nebraska Omaha campus.  

   What I tend to appreciate most about MBLGTACC is the distinct effort that they put in to include voices that are intersectional. Almost every keynote speaker was a queer person of color, such as Blair Imani, a bisexual, queer, Muslim activist. All of these speakers serve to show us that the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights are not just about one identity. It is about race, sexuality and gender, class, physical or mental ability, mass incarceration, employment status, and many other identities that give us diversity beyond our skin color or gender expression.  

   Last year at MBLGTACC, I was most struck by how safe and open it felt to be authentically myself. This year, however, I felt like I was seeing other folks have that experience for the first time. I don’t know this for sure, but I feel like for many students, MBLGTACC is the only space where they can be themselves without fear or shame.  

   I am lucky to be a student at Manchester, because I can be open about my sexuality without being afraid of what will happen to me if I don’t identify as heterosexual. My friends don’t judge me, I am not held back from opportunities because of my sexuality and the faculty are open and accepting. I fear this is not the case for many students in colleges across the Midwest. People say that college is the time to find yourself, but for some students, college is just another time that they have to hide who they are. MBLGTACC provides queer folks with an opportunity to see successful, happy and applauded queer people dedicating their lives to researching and uplifting the LGBTQIA+ community.  

  MBLGTACC shows young queer folks that being queer should be celebrated. It should be uplifted. The goal is no longer tolerance for people of other races, genders, and sexual identities, it is celebration. In my blog that I wrote about this event last year, I said “We can feel bad for people until the cows come home, we can say that we’re in solidarity with a struggle, but it is not until we actually stand up and do something that we can truly make a difference.” After MBLGTACC this year, I would expand on that and say that simply attending an event like this is a huge step for some folks. If you cannot be yourself in your community, or you can’t stand up and do something, that is okay. It is not your responsibility to fix your situation. It is the responsibility of folks like me (and probably the person reading this, hi) who have privilege and the ability to be themselves without fear, to help you.

Virginia Rendler ’20 is a Peace Studies major, and is hoping to double major in English, as well as double minor in Spanish and Visual Art. She loves animals and is a Leo.