The University won a bid last month to host the annual Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference in February 2011.

For the past 16 years, students from colleges across the Midwest have attended these conferences, which draw about 1,500 participants each year. The aim of the conference is to raise awareness of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender issues through a weekend of workshops, speakers and state caucuses.

The University of Michigan bid team presented at this year’s conference at Indiana University last month in hopes of winning hosting rights to the conference in 2011. The bid team was composed of multiple LGBT students and was advised by Spectrum Center Assistant Directors Lauren Sherry and Gabe Javier.

Javier said the University’s LGBT community wants to talk about the interconnectedness of systems of oppression. The theme of the 2011 conference will be “Justice or Just Us.”

“We will be talking about people at the intersection of their identities as LGBT and something else, as a person of color, as a person of limited ability, as a person who’s an international student,” he said. “We’re looking to really ramp the conversation up.”

In an effort to create this dialogue between identities, organizers hope to include the University’s LGBT scholars and other University groups like the Program on Intergroup Relations and the Ginsberg Center.

Though the conference aims to create a network of LGBT students in the Midwest, the conference’s organizers stress that everyone is encouraged to attend.

“We’re going to try to push to get as many U of M students there as possible to really show as much support for the conference as possible,” said LSA sophomore Chris Armstrong, co-chair of the Michigan Student Assembly’s LGBT Commission, who is helping to organize the conference. “We’re going to try to make it as accessible to all different types of people who are interested in LGBT issues.”

Javier said he thinks the University has the resources to hold a conference that varies positively from past ones.

“I really think that the energy and the community surrounding the LGBTQ and ally community here is unparalleled,” he said. “I strongly feel like our community communicates really well with each other, that we have a great set of allies all across the University that can really make the conference feel so much more different.”

Although the conference is two years away, organizers are already in the beginning stages of planning.

“2011 seems like so far away, but we have to get the jump on planning something really great,” Sean Collins, an LSA sophomore who helped with the University’s bid said in a press release.

The February 2011 conference in Ann Arbor will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Spectrum Center, which organizers say makes holding the conference even more exciting.

“It definitely does make it a lot more special, and we’re going to really push the importance of the Spectrum Center,” Armstrong said. “We’re definitely going to advertise and sort of show off how great Michigan is with LGBT issues.”

Some past speakers at the conference include comedian Margaret Cho, activist Angela Davis and openly gay Iraq war veteran Eric Alva.

The 2010 conference will be held next February at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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