Drwencke, Brooks introduce the Institute at MBLGTACC 2017

Justin Drwencke and R.B. Brooks introduced the Institute to students and community members attending MBLGTACC this past weekend in Chicago. Below is a transcript of their remarks.

Hey hi hello, my name is R.B. They/them. I am the Chief Operations Officer of the Institute. This is my sixth MBLGTACC. I've been attending since 2012 in Ames, Iowa. I also had the privilege of being co-chair of mblgtacc 2014 hosted in Kansas City MO.  

I’m Justin, he/him/they/them, and I am the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute. This is my seventh MBLGTACC. Previously, I had the pleasure of working with a fantastic team to plan the 2013 conference in Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University.

This weekend marks the 25th conference -- 25th time gathering together around the region to be in community, take ownership of our various identities, and challenge ourselves to engage in necessary conversation to continue proving that our region is contributing to the movement. 

This could not have been possible without a long history of enthusiastic change makers and risk takers returning every year. This could not have been possible without all of you.  

To celebrate, we are excited to share this video highlighting an incredible 25 queer years.  

We are proud of the history of this conference and we look forward to 25 more queer years. We’re here today to share with you how we see that happening. As planners of previous conferences, we are highly aware of the challenges that are faced by each planning team. Planning this conference requires two years of dedication. Each year, students from the host school must build a team and figure out how to make this weekend happen. When we created our teams and planned our respective conferences, we started from scratch. There was no manual to follow, and certainly no organization to share knowledge about what worked well in the past and what didn’t work so well.

From the very beginning it has been recognized that the Midwest has not been given due credit for its participation and continual contributions to social justice efforts, including queer  and trans justice. This space has been vital for attendees and planners alike to ensure that a continued space is created for our larger community as well as making a statement each year that the Midwest is just as invested in the movement as our coastal counterparts and greater urban areas. We are elated to say we have been hard at work making strides so that not only can we continue providing this space but also amplifying the voices and validity of Midwest queer and trans experiences beyond the three day weekend.

We are proud to formally introduce to you the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity. We re-envision an educational climate that centers the needs and experiences of systemically disadvantaged students and affirms and encourages sexuality and gender diversity. Our mission is to empower students of diverse sexualities and genders to inspire sustainable change; lead higher education colleagues in relevant and inclusive practices; and advance knowledge of sexuality and gender through advocacy and expansive programming.

As we develop this organization, we do so in a time of extreme turmoil and conflict. We observe turbulence within our community and this must end. We cannot and will not justify building an organization that exists to support the privileged few. Here today, we re-commit to uplifting the voices of those in our community who are so often not heard.

With our attention turned to the multitude of negative and confusing impacts made on our various communities, it has been dire that our team situate itself fully in the complex and multi-faceted efforts of the overall movement. It has also been our self-proclaimed duty to deliberate on how these larger issues impacting our nation inherently and uniquely impact the Midwest region. We would like to invite you to our State of the Region panel on Saturday morning starting at 10:20 am in room 313 to hear some our teammates discuss their experiences with the Midwest and some of the major issues currently facing our community. We would greatly value your attendance and feedback on what you think we should focus our efforts on as we continue to grow this organization.

We look forward to sharing space with you this weekend and we appreciate you allowing us the honor of introducing the Institute to all of you.

Learn more about MBLGTACC's historyattend in 2018, or bid to host the conference in 2020.

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