Last week GLAAD staff members, along with thousands of LGBT advocates from across the country, and even the world, convened in Baltimore, Maryland for National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change Conference, the annual gathering that brings elected officials, staff and volunteers of both non-profit and grass roots organizations, students, and faith leaders together for workshops and discussions about the work being done to advocate for LGBT equality.
This year, GLAAD participated in a number of workshops and strategizing meetings as well as hosted a number of media trainings covering topics from building effective relationships with media professionals to workshops that offered concrete tips to reframe conversations to better engage the faith community on LGBT issues.
GLAAD’s Digital Director Allison Palmer hosted Heather Mansfield, author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits and owner of DIOSA Communications, during the New Media Training Institute (NMTI). Now in its second year, the institute provided best practices for Facebook, Twitter & Google+, as well as blogging, audio-visual tools. Also as part of the institute, GLAAD led panel discussions with nationally recognized LGBT bloggers: Bil Browning of The Bilerico Project, Jeremy Hooper of Good As You, Daniel Villarreal of Poliglot, Phil Reese of Washington Blade and Leone Kraus of Blue State Digital, as well as LGBT advocates Michael Crawford from Freedom to Marry and Vincent Paolo Villano of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). Leone Kraus recapped the training at Kraus Notes and many participants tweeted during the training using hashtag #NMTI.
In keeping with our work to help organizations and individuals articulate the everyday challenges LGBT people face by telling their stories, GLAAD also led the Simple Steps to Refine Storytelling and Media Interviews Training, which took the basic components of most communications strategies and pared them with the most compelling ways to craft effective messages to ultimately change the hearts and minds of Americans.
GLAAD’s Ross Murrary also conducted two sessions for movement faith leaders: Missing Voices: A study of Religious Voices in Mainstream Media, which focused on ways in which our movement can better represent ourselves and our voices of faith, and Raising Your Faithful Voice, which offered ways in which LGBT and welcoming faith leaders can use their influence to move equality forward.
But GLAAD’s impact was also felt indirectly through a number of partnerships including the town hall coordinated through a partnerships with the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and GLAAD. The community forum, which featured CNN/ESPN writer and commentator LZ Granderson as the moderator, addressed the need to empower LGBT youth of color to tell their stories and become agents of change in their communities, schools and among their friends and family members.
Members of the GLAAD People of Color Media Institute also had a sizeable representation with a number chair panels, leading workshops and trainings. Cohort Ja’briel Walthour appeared on FOX Baltimore to talk about the importance of the conference.
GLAAD would like to thank the Task Force for planning this conference, which not only helps us build our skill sets and learn how to be more effective advocates, but also helps us strengthen our sense of community and support for one another.