On behalf of the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity and the planning team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College, it is our honor to welcome you to the 29th annual Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference.
Since our last gathering, our lives have been upended by COVID-19 and the latest uprisings against racialized police violence. In this context, the theme of this year’s conference, From Protest and Beyond Pride, feels particularly salient.
As queer and trans people, we are accustomed to building, bettering and banding together in complex and dire circumstances. We have persevered through many historical plights such as 1960s era laws criminalizing our attire and sexual activities and the devastating impacts of the AIDS epidemic. Our past provides us with cues and tools for addressing the pressing issues of our moment as we battle an onslaught of anti-trans legislative attacks, debilitating student loan and medial debt disproportionately impacting marginalized communities, and corporate greed threatening drinkable water supplies and the status of our currently habitable planet.
Author and law professor Dean Spade talks about the practice of “mutual aid” as a way to address people’s immediate needs by working within one’s community and focusing on our collective survival in ways that existing systems are ill-equipped to handle. This notion of radically caring for each other while working to change the world is a valuable framework for us to consider as we strive for a liberated future.
We are well equipped to come up with bold, creative solutions that center our needs, desires and differences. The compounding crises of a global pandemic, the fight for racial justice and evidence of a climate catastrophe deepens our value and investment in community and care. We need to rely on each other to bring lasting change. We need others to carry the torch when it is time for our own bodies to rest.
Throughout our gathering this weekend, we hope you find joy in building new connections. We hope you learn new tactics and share your own experiences. Most importantly, we hope you feel the love that radiates throughout the queer and trans community and carry it home to your own spaces.
Director of Programs, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity
Executive Director, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity