MBLGTACC will be held in Kansas for the first time in 2019. Our theme ties together rich traditions in Kansas with continual goals of social justice and equal rights for all, regardless of gender and sexuality. Beyond the Rainbow is a nod to what comes to mind for most people when they think of Kansas –the starting point for Dorothy’s adventures in the Wizard of Oz. Of course, the rainbow also has special meaning for the LGBTQIA community, but moving Beyond the Rainbow suggests seeing connections between our diverse identities and various movements for social justice. To the Stars refers to our state motto, “Ad Astra per Aspera”, meaning “To the Stars through Difficulties”. Our motto refers to the pioneering spirit of Kansans, but for many of us this phrase also signifies the ongoing struggles for justice and equality in our state.
Kansas has a proud but little known history of grassroots organizing and civil rights activism. From the efforts of John Brown and the abolitionists who fought to keep Kansas free from slavery during 1850s to the 1954 landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, which originated in a Topeka school and was named for student Linda Brown, Kansas has been a forerunner in fights for racial and gender justice. Our state had the first state run university allowing women to attend college alongside men. Wichita was the setting of the first lunch counter sit-in, staged by a youth chapter of NAACP in 1958 in a Dockum Drug Store. Wichita was also one of the first cities in the nation to pass a non-discrimination ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1977 (though it quickly became a target of Anita Bryant’s crusade and was unfortunately short lived).
Our pioneering spirit has had a profound impact throughout our nation – from aviation (Wichita as the Air Capital of the World, Amelia Earhart) to arts and culture (Gordon Parks, Langston Hughes, and William Burroughs) and the LGBTQ civil rights movement (Kansan Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag), and it is this spirit we hope to inspire among attendees. Our message throughout the conference will be one of aiming high and working together to meet those goals. We hope that attendees will be empowered by the stories they hear and the tools they develop to take this spirit of change back home to create more just, safe, and welcoming spaces in their lives.
MBLGTACC 2019 will be hosted by students from Wichita State University. Wichita State is a growing leader in innovation, creativity and collaborative learning. Its 15,000 students study business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professions, and liberal arts and sciences at the undergraduate and graduate levels.