A raft of major corporations donated huge dollars in support of a conference that bills itself as the largest annual gathering of LGBT individuals in the country.
JP Morgan Chase sponsored the Creating Change conference along with Office Depot, Hilton Worldwide, Wells Fargo, Southwest Airlines, Pepsi, and Comcast Universal, among others.
Thousands of participants saw what seems like hundreds of sessions that took place over four days this week in Denver. The slick program guide alone ran to 150 pages.
Sessions included the Biblical Case for Same-Sex Marriage, Being a Queer Teacher 101, PolyAnarchy, Queering Education: Struggles & Support, Porn This Way: Queering Porn, Queer & Sexy Parenting, Alternative Relationship Structures 101, Kink/BDSM/Leather Caucus, Practicing Kink: Let’s Get Visual, Empowering Trans Youth in Transition, LGBT Advocacy in the Evangelical Church, Queering Immigration, Bias in Statistics: Debunking Hate Research, Beyond Choice: Reproductive Justice Organizing & Advocacy, A Queer Church Beyond Inclusion, Rousing Catholics in the Age of [Pope] Francis, Battling Bigotry in the Black Church, Bi and Trans Adventures in Judaism, and Turning Christian Opponents into Allies.
The conference featured an ongoing film festival that included a new hagiographic documentary about Matthew Shepard, and a film based on Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi that portrays Jesus as gay and having sexual affairs with his apostles.
Session organizers provided lessons on LGBT etiquette. Participants were warned that “sexual harassment is a form of sexual violence,” and they should refrain from making remarks about anyone’s “appearance or personal life,” making any “unwanted flirtations,” or “touching someone without their permission (grabbing, hugging, petting, biting).”
They also provided a rather complicated “guide to bisexual/pansexual/fluid etiquette” that explained: “bi/pan/fluid people usually have to come out over and over, sometimes to the same person” and “do not insist that a gender non-conforming/trans person or their partners must discard their bisexual identity label and use another label.”
The “transgender/gender nonconforming etiquette and inclusion” guide told participants to “pay attention to a person’s purposeful gender expression but remember that a person’s external appearance may not match their internal gender identity.” The guide says, “We consider it polite to ask, ‘What pronoun do you prefer?’ or ‘How do you identify?’” Regarding bathrooms, the guide says, “Each of us can decide ourselves in which bathroom we belong,” but “please let everyone pee in peace.”
The conference is organized every year by the National Conference on LGBT Equality, which is not the largest LGBT group in America—that would be the $50 million-a-year Human Rights Campaign—but at $7 million annual revenue and $4 million in the bank, not a piker either.