If anyone noticed their favorite gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or straight-ally college student was missing recently, perhaps s/he was in Kansas City for MBLGTACC, the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (so many words!). The event’s name is quasi-officially pronounced something like “mumbelg-tack,” but that is rather unpleasant and many students just refer to it as “The Big Gay Conference.”
The conference is held annually in a Midwestern city, but attracts thousands of students from as far as Texas, California, and New England, who attend to meet people and make new friends, as well as learn a thing or two about how not being cisgender and heterosexual is just fine.
This year’s keynote speaker was transgender activist Janet Mock, who talked about how Piers Morgan stresses her out and signed copies of her book. There were also workshops aplenty, including a program on Queer Buddies, a college/university mentorship program that pairs first-year LGBT students with elder classmates for guidance through their transition to college life. Similar to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentorship program, in Queer Buddies the “Big” classmates are trained on how to provide healthy support and a positive example, without inappropriate sexual motives, and the “Littles” have someone to ease the isolation of being a young person trying to figure out his/her path in life.
Queer Buddies was created by Grace Long, a graduate student at University of Kansas, 30 minutes west of Kansas City in Lawrence. “Identifying as LGBT can be a lonely and scary process at first,” Long said during the conference. “I struggled when I was coming out and starting college, so I wanted to make it easier for some people.”
The video is a synopsis of the program and includes testimonials from Bigs and Littles. Seriously, watching the three little gaylings dance together at 3:48 was adorbs. It’s nice to see young people finding roots in the community without being turned into sexual objects, which makes a big difference for their self-esteem.
The 2015 conference will be held in Bloomington-Normal, Ill. The conference is a lot of fun, even if for no other reason than to use the bathrooms all marked pro-trans “gender-neutral,” with the “Men’s” and “Women’s” signs covered, which confused the hell out of people not attending the conference and just passing by to find a bathroom to use.