State of the LGBT movement, immigration reform, progressive issues mark high-profile keynote speeches at major LGBT conference
Compelling lineup of speakers at 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 23-27
More than 3,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates and allies will converge in Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 23-27, for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. The conference features a powerhouse lineup of speakers focusing on the hottest issues of the day, including the state of the LGBT rights movement, immigration reform and the Dreamers, economic disparity and much more.
On opening night, Thursday, Jan. 24, Deepak Bhargava, Center for Community Change executive director, will address the conference. On Jan. 25, Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey will deliver the annual “State of the Movement” address. On Jan. 26, Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-Prize winner journalist and openly gay immigration activist, will headline a plenary session on immigration issues where he engages a panel of LGBT DREAM Act organizers.
Songbird Frenchie Davis, a Grammy-nominated artist who competed on American Idol and The Voice, will perform at the closing plenary on Jan. 27. All plenary sessions will be emceed by the incomparable comic and social analyst Kate Clinton.
More about the keynote speakers
Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change (CCC), builds the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change the policies and institutions that affect their lives. Under his leadership, CCC has played a leading role in campaigns to achieve universal health care coverage, improve jobs and safety net policies and advance comprehensive immigration reform. Bhargava is a leading progressive thinker and strategist, and has written and spoken widely about issues such as poverty, immigration and community organizing. Born in Bangalore, India, Bhargava immigrated to the United States when he was a child. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his partner Harry Hanbury, a documentary filmmaker.
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is one of the most prominent leaders in the U.S. LGBT rights movement. Carey, who came to the Task Force in 2004 as deputy executive director, has served as executive director since 2008. Through her leadership, she has advanced a vision of fairness and justice for LGBT people and their families that is broad, inclusive and unabashedly progressive. During Carey’s tenure, the Task Force was a key player in passage of the LGBT-inclusive federal hate crimes prevention law; the defeat of multiple anti-LGBT ballot measures across the country, and most recently, the sweeping passage of pro-marriage ballot questions; the creation and implementation of the New Beginning Initiative coalition, which secures federal administrative policy changes to improve the lives of LGBT people and their families; and the release of the largest-ever study on transgender discrimination in the U.S. Under her guidance, the Task Force has also launched an Online Academy bolstering grassroots power by creating electronic access to Task Force training programs; expanded its faith work through the Institute for Welcoming Resources, increasing the number of welcoming and affirming congregations to well over 4,000; and played a vital role in getting the U.S. Census Bureau to report married same-sex couples in the 2010 census. Carey serves on the advisory board of the LGBTQ Policy Journal of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Jose Antonio Vargas is the founder of Define American, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to elevating and reframing the immigration conversation. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Vargas, in a June 2012 cover story for Time magazine titled “We Are Americans* (*Just not legally),” popularized the term “undocumented Americans” in describing the country’s population of 11.5 million undocumented immigrants. Vargas has written for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country, including the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, the Huffington Post and the Washington Post, where he was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. His 2006 series on AIDS in Washington, D.C., inspired a feature-length documentary – The Other City – which he co-produced and wrote. Attracting worldwide coverage, Vargas then told the biggest story of his career: himself. In the landmark essay for the New York Times Magazine titled “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,” June 2011, he revealed his undocumented status and declared his mission to speak truthfully about immigration in America in the 21st century. A very proud alumnus of Mountain View High School and San Francisco State University, he lives in New York City but calls the Bay Area home.
Songbird Frenchie Davis was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Los Angeles, where she started her musical journey performing in plays throughout her school years, eventually auditioning for the second season of the groundbreaking Fox show American Idol. Her success on the show launched the Howard University alum’s rise to fame. Davis joined the Broadway cast of the hit show Rent and played the role of Effie White in Dream Girls, eventually winning a Grammy nomination for the revival of Ain’t Misbehavin. Recently, Davis joined Team Christina on NBC’s hit show The Voice, becoming one of the top four finalists. Davis has established her own label called Frenchie Davis Music Group and recorded her smash single Love’s Got A Hold on Me. The songbird frequently plays LGBT Pride events around the country and is in talks to develop a plus-size lingerie line.
Kate Clinton, a faith-based, tax-paying, America-loving political humorist, maxes out on multiple formats. Clinton penned three books, has nine CDs and three DVDs, and is a columnist, film and stage actress, TV political analyst and blogger, vlogger and tweeter til the cows come home. In her 30-year career, Clinton has lived and laughed through economic booms and busts, Disneyfication and Walmartization, gay movements and gay markets, lesbian chic and queer eyes, and eight presidential inaugurals. We crown Clinton the movement’s funniest and smartest comic and spitfire.
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