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Virginia Rendler

Attending MBLGTACC: Year Three

by Virginia Rendler | Feb 21, 2019

            The past two years, I have written a blog every February about attending the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference (MBLGTACC). Last year, it was in Omaha, Nebraska, just a quick 10 drive away. This year, MBLGTACC was held in Wichita, Kansas, easily a 12 to 15 hour van ride. The difference about this year, besides the added mileage, was that I was in charge of organizing our cohort of Manchester students heading to the conference.

            I see a lot of value in this particular conference. Often times, especially in the Midwest, queer students aren’t exposed to people of other queer identities. MBLGTACC is a place where students can be wildly expressive, live in their own identities and meet other people who identify the same as them. For some, it can be the first time they have met someone who is like them.

            I’ve been to a lot of conferences during my time with Peace Studies and different student organizations. I’m familiar with how they function, how to take care of myself during them and what to prioritize. But I’m used to someone else figuring out the hotels, the drivers − I just show up with my suitcase and go with the flow.

            Organizing the group is something entirely different, though. Booking the hotel, finding amazing staff who will chaperone the group, getting the van, making sure everyone has the necessary accommodation and information − these are all details that I didn’t appreciate about these events before. We had two amazing drivers and chaperones for this trip, Scotty Secrist and Bekah Houff, who drove us all 30 hours and supported us in preparation for this conference. When we were leaving the conference, Scotty asked us to discuss four takeaways from the trip and I thought I would share mine here.

 

         1. It is polite AND necessary to ask permission before you share your emotional burden. This ensures they’re willing               and able to participate in your trauma before adding something that may trigger or stress them.

         2. Privilege is found in experiences you did not have to go through.

         3. Accessibility MATTERS because it is a form of representation and identity acknowledgement

         4. If you order something at a sushi restaurant that says “fire”, there is a chance that it may literally come flaming.

 

I recommend everyone go to a conference at least once in their college career, because it is a wonderful opportunity to learn about current research in a particular field, but also to communicate with other students who share your interests. We had the opportunity to see keynote speakers who were nonbinary activists, leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement, Nyle DiMarco (FROM AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL!!!!), and other incredible queer folks. Spaces full of representation and celebration are not only wonderful and important, they are absolutely necessary for every individual.