Mixed-Race and Rootless
Reflections on the 2023 Creating Change Conference, part one
This post is part one of a series of reflections on the 2023 Creating Change Conference. For part two, see “Accessibility, Ableism, and Accommodations”. For part three, see “Trans Athletes and Fairness to Women”. For part four, see Trans Takeover at Creating Change.
Last month, I attended the annual Creating Change Conference, hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force. I decided to attend as it was being held in San Francisco’s Union Square, less than a mile from my apartment, and thought it would motivate me to get out and network with fellow queer and trans folks. I’ll be writing my reflections on this multi-day event in a series of blog entries, as there are several discrete topics I want to cover.
The first conference session I attended was the Caucus for Mixed BIPOC LGBTQIA+ Folx. The facilitator was JR “Nexus” Ross, who is queer, nonbinary, Black, and Filipino. The session attracted dozens of attendees, more than expected, which was to be a recurring theme throughout the conference. We started with going around the room, introducing ourselves and our racial and ethnic identities. As we only had an hour, Ross dismissed with the formal presentation he had planned so we had time to go around the room a second time, expounding further on what it was like to live as a mixed-race person.
Sharing and listening to everyone’s stories was an emotional experience. Some, including our host, were moved to tears. Many memories bubbled up for me, and there was so much more I could have said, but in the interest of time I spoke rapidly and said relatively little. Here in my own space, I can take the time to say more.
As I’ve shared in other blog entries, I am the only child of a Black mother and a white Jewish father. I was born in Pittsburgh, but we lived in West Liberty, West Virginia for much of my childhood. This was a small, WASP town, and I was the only Black child at the elementary school. (This was decades before my gender transition; I was living as a girl at the time.)
Besides my mother, the only other Black people I saw in town were a handful of students at the local college. My primary exposure to Black folks was through occasional visits to see my mother’s…