History

Greetings from the 90s...

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.

The nation’s largest and oldest-continuously running conference for queer and trans+ college students

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.

The Institute is actively working to unearth more conference history. Were you an early MBLGCC or MBLGTCC planner? Connect with Noah about our MBLGTACC history project.

Conference milestones

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.

Past hosts and themes

1993 - First annual MBLGCC

Ames, Iowa. Hosted by Iowa State University and Drake University

1994 - Greetings from the 90's... Wish you were here queer

Richmond, Indiana. Hosted by Earlham College

1995 - Building queer success in the Midwest

Carbondale, Illinois. Hosted by Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

1996 - Building queer success in the Midwest

Beloit, Wisconsin. Hosted by Beloit College

1997 - We're here! We're queer! We're fabulous!

Indianapolis, Indiana. Hosted by Indiana State University

1998 - Across the fruited plain

Chicago, Illinois. Hosted by University of Illinois at Chicago

1999 - Moving forward, looking back

Madison, Wisconsin. Hosted by University of Wisconsin-Madison

2000 - Making waves into the new millennium

Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Hosted by Saint Cloud State University

2001 - Out and about: Breaking the silence, breaking the boundaries, breaking the labels

Champaign, Illinois. Hosted by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2002 - Still moving forward

East Lansing, Michigan. Hosted by Michigan State University

2003 - Loving with pride

Columbus, Ohio. Hosted by the Ohio State University.

2004 - Speak up! Speak out! Celebrating the power of communication to fight hate and fear

Ames, Iowa. Hosted by Iowa State University.

2005 - Building the bridge to bring it all together

Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Hosted by Saint Cloud State University.

2006 - Painting the rainbow: Celebrating unity through diversity

Vermillion, South Dakota. Hosted by the University of South Dakota.

2007 - Alphabet soup: No matter the letter we stand together

Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hosted by the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities.

2008 - Voting for change: Liberty and justice for all

Champaign, Illinois. Hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2009 - Living out loud: Examining our past to enhance our future

Bloomington, Indiana. Hosted by Indiana University Bloomington.

2010 - Get real! Confronting privilege, provoking dialogue and building new foundations

Madison, Wisconsin. Hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2011 - Justice or just us? Achieving liberty for all

Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hosted by the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

2012 - The butterfly effect: Evolution to revolution

Ames, Iowa. Hosted by Iowa State University.

2013 - Mosaic: Putting the pieces together

East Lansing, Michigan. Hosted by Michigan State University.

2014 - Jazzin' it up

Kansas City, Missouri. Hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

2015 - Narrating a new normal

Normal, Illinois. Hosted by Illinois State University.

2016 - Introspection at the crossroads

West Lafayette, Indiana. Hosted by Purdue University.

2017 - United in solidarity

Chicago, Illinois. Hosted by the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity and the Chicago Coalition of Queer and Allied Students (DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University)

2018 - All roads lead to intersectionality

Omaha, Nebraska. Hosted by the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity and the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

2019 - Beyond the rainbow and to the stars

Wichita, Kansas. Hosted by the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity and Wichita State University.

2020 - Envisioning a future together

Kalamazoo, Michigan. Hosted by the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity and tWestern Michigan University.

2021 - From protest and beyond pride

Madison, Wisconsin. Hosted by the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity and the University of Madison-Wisconsin.

2022 - 30th annual MBLGTACC

Columbus, Ohio. Hosted by the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity and a multi-institution, multi-state coalition of student organizers.

Can you help us?

The Institute is actively working to unearth more conference history. Were you an early MBGLCC, MBLGCC, or MBLGTCC planner? Connect with us about our MBLGTACC history project.

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