Guest Author - Jason P. Ruel
The Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference is the largest national college conference for GLBT students, staff, and people. Faculty, Staff, and students from all over the US Midwest, in addition to other regions and Canada, come together every year at a host school to celebrate who they are. Who exactly are they? They are the people who make up Alphabet Soup!
The University of Minnesota Queer Student Cultural Center and GLBTA Programs office will be hosting this year’s event, which will be held at the U o fM Twin cities campus, which is Mineapolis and St. Paul, in February. The event is a monumental one as the conference is in its fifteenth year. This is impressive for a GLBT student conference held in the Midwest. A conference of this size, limited to 1500 persons because of campus limitations, is normally thought of to happen in the West. One would expect a conference of this magnitude to be held in California, Florida, or other GLBT “mecas”, but not held in Midwest towns and campuses such as University of South Dakota, University of Minesotta, Iowa State University, or University of Illinois Champagne/Urbana.
The conference is made up of many parts. It’s not all fun and play. The main goal of this conference is to promote leadership and education, but that does not mean the attendees will not have a good time while they are there. The conference is held from a Friday to Sunday in February. Normally held around the second weekend in February, the conference hosts more than 1000 attendees a year, and is limited only by the facilities that house it. There are speakers, keynotes, performers, GLBT venders, presenters, workshops, and an all-around good time. It is time to learn and commune with people who are like you and understand what it means to be a GLBT person in the Midwest.
MBGLTACC 2007 will feature performaces from Margaret Cho, Faisal Alam, Loren Cameron, and Robin Ochs. This year’s theme is Alphabet soup. From their press packet, “Conference organizers use the term "alphabet soup communities" to describe the diverse population of people who will attend the conference in order to keep the focus on issues and experiences people face rather than labels.”
"This conference will be an important opportunity for collegians to network with one another and learn ways to empower GLBTA individuals and student organizations on college campuses around the entire region," says conference co-director Michael Grewe.
I have attended this conference since I was a student in 1996. I am amazed every year at the conference and what it becomes. I have learned many different things while attending and persons I have met have inspired me to become the man I am today. This year I will have the honor and privlege to present two programs titled “The other side of HIV”, and “You’ve come out – So what?”
Alphabet soup. MBGLTACC 2007. No matter which way you look at it, it is a good thing and one that should not be missed!
Jason P. Ruel
BellaOnline's Gay Lesbian and HIV/AIDS editor