By Christina Wolfe
“Viva la Queerevolución!” This is the battle cry of this year’s Western Regional LGBT Conference hosted at UCLA the weekend of April 18 through 20.
This year’s conference focuses on “a new generation on the front lines of action.” Conference-goers will work toward equality and equal rights for all members of the LGBT community.
City on a Hill Press talked to three interns at the Lionel Cantú GLBTI Resource Center who are planning to attend the conference.
Second-year Kevin Wickstrom said he highly anticipates the trip to Los Angeles. His own goals coincide nicely with the goals of the conference, he said.
“[I’m looking forward to] learning more about educating on queer issues and becoming an activist, and then branching out into the straight community to create equality,” Wickstrom said. “And I know they are doing activities to do just that.”
This will be Wickstrom’s first conference, but he already sees it as an effective platform for furthering the goals of the GLBTI community. The conference attracts students from up and down the West Coast. Wickstrom expects a close group as a result, he said.
“The conference creates connections and a sense of community,” he said. “[Students] will see they are not alone and they will see there are a lot of queer men and women who are looking for the same things, and looking to be part of something bigger.”
Wickstrom hoped that the ideas of the conference would spread, eventually creating “good for the greater community.”
For fellow Cantú intern, first-year Kyle Fanthorpe, the appeal of the conference is social.
“Everybody was talking about how social it was and how it’s a bigger community,” Fanthorpe said. “I’m excited to see friends from other campuses who are going as well.”
The conferences began in 1990 and are held each year at a different UC campus. Last year’s conference was held at UC Riverside. The three-day event is packed, alternating between lectures, student-led workshops and special guests, including author, playwright, and performance artist Kate Bornstein, slam poet Andrea Gibson, comedian Sandra Valls and transgender activist and scholar Dean Spade.
UCSC student Ian Sentelik, who attended last year’s conference in Riverside, highlighted the importance of the available workshops. As a creative writing major, his favorite was a workshop that discussed writing in general and highlighted some talented LGBT writers.
But the most fun workshop he attended was a workshop on bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM).
“I personally was not expecting a bondage workshop,” Sentelik said. “It was interesting because it’s usually so hush-hush, but the people doing it explained, ‘We do this for fun and we’re as safe as we possibly could be.’”
He also shyly confessed he enjoyed the “things they did on the side that had nothing to do with the workshops.”
For those interested in the LGBT community but unable to make it to the conference, the Cantú Center is presenting “Think Positive,” an art reception on April 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. The exhibit will celebrate National LGBTI Health Awareness Week and hold an open dialogue on HIV/AIDS, health organizations and safer sex.
_Interested students should be at UCLA by 6 p.m. to register at the door. The conference costs $50 for students and $60 for non-students. Contact the Lionel Cantú Queer Center for more information. _