Planned and organized entirely by students—a tradition that proudly continues today—what would later become the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference emerged in the early 1990s as an answer to the question of how to connect, educate, and empower queer students throughout the region. This came at a time when the continued growth of the mainstream lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights movement—largely underrepresenting transgender and gender non-conforming folx—was most present and powerful on the east and west coasts, isolating students in the Midwest from national LGBT work by geography, political realities, and access to resources.
In 1991, college students at another conference in Des Moines came together around this reality and dreamt the Midwest Bisexual Gay Lesbian College Conference into existence. They wanted to be part of the solution; to give a voice to queer students in the Midwest; and to make it and MBLGTACC a destination for acclaimed entertainers, activists, and thought leaders. They sought to create an oasis in what Justin Connor (MBLGCC ‘94) says was seen as “a queer desert.” (Notice the re-ordering of letters in the conference's second year)
The group came together a year later to lay down the organizing principles and logistical roadmap for a conference of LGBT students, to be held each year at a college or university in the Midwest. The first annual MBLGCC was held at Iowa State University in February 1993, a collaborative effort between students at Iowa State and Drake University.
For over 27 years, MBLGTACC has brought students together from around the region—and the nation—to learn from one another’s experiences, build-up each other’s knowledge and skills, and share in community. It has attracted respected advocates, thought leaders, entertainers, and artists to the Midwest and created space for growth and togetherness.
1993: The 1st annual Midwest, Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian College Conference took place at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. A year later at the 2nd annual, identities listed in the conference name were re-ordered, and the conference became known as the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay College Conference.
1995: The theme for the 1995 and 1996 conferences was “Building Queer Success in the Midwest.” While it is unconfirmed, later attempts to assemble a conference history suggest the belief that this was intended to be the conference’s official slogan. Later conferences selected other themes, but the commitment to building queer success in the Midwest remained constant.
1997: The conference was renamed the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender College Conference.
2001: The conference was renamed the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference.
2007: Student organizers created the Oversight Committee.
2013: Hosted in Lansing, Michigan by students from Michigan State University, MBLGTACC drew 2000+ attendees for the first time.
2015: Hosted in Normal, Illinois by students from Illinois State University, MBLGTACC reached 2500 attendees for the first time. Later that year, the MBLGTACC Oversight Committee authorized creation of a non-profit with professional staff.
2016: The Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity was officially launched.
2017: The 25th annual MBLGTACC was held in Chicago, Illinois, attracting 2300 attendees.
2018: The conference was hosted in Nebraska for the first time. Later that year, it was renamed the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference.
2019: The conference was hosted in Kansas for the first time.
2021: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference is planned to be held in the fall for the first time ever.
2022: The 30th annual conference will be held.
First annual MBLGCC
Greetings from the 90's... Wish You Were
Building Queer Success in the Midwest
Building Queer Success in the Midwest
We're Here! We're Queer! We're Fabulous!
Across the Fruited Plain
Moving Forward, Looking Back
Making Waves Into the New Millennium
Out and About: Breaking the Silence, Breaking the Boundaries, Breaking the Labels
Still Moving Forward
Loving With Pride
Speak Up! Speak Out! Celebrating the Power of Communication to Fight Hate and Fear
Building the Bridge to Bring It All Together
Painting the Rainbow: Celebrating Unity Through Diversity
Alphabet Soup: No Matter The Letter We Stand Together
Voting for Change: Liberty and Justice For All
Living Out Loud: Examining Our Past to Enhance Our Future
Get Real! Confronting Privilege, Provoking Dialogue and Building New Foundations
Justice or Just Us? Achieving Liberty for All
The Butterfly Effect: Evolution to Revolution
Mosaic: Putting the Pieces Together
Jazzin' It Up
Narrating a New Normal
Introspection at the Crossroads
(DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University)
United in Solidarity
All Roads Lead to Intersectionality
Beyond the Rainbow and to the Stars
Envisioning a Future Together
From Protest and Beyond Pride
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