Whether you're a member of the LGBTQ community or an ally, attending a local or national conference is a great way to build your confidence and your social network. You'll be able to hear from speakers who have gone through the same experiences, make friends who can relate to you and learn how you can get more involved in political matters. Large general events like the National LGBTQ Taskforce's annual gathering will draw thousands of participants, but you can also find more intimate and focused events like the Gay Christian Network Conference.
InterPride Annual General Meeting and World Conference
Indiana may not seem like the most likely place to hold an LGBTQ conference, but the state capitol, Indianapolis, has been adamant in its support of the community. From hanging a giant rainbow flag in the airport to redesigning the tourism website to include LGBTQ iconography, the Crossroads of America are more welcoming than you might think. In 2017, Indy will see hundreds of leaders from InterPride visit from October 5-8.
Gay Christian Network Conference
Religious members of the LGBTQ community often feel isolated within their faiths. At the country's largest gathering of gay-friendly Christians, more than 1,500 faithful will gather in fellowship, worship and solidarity. Featured speakers include worship leaders, retired bishops and trans-rights activists. The Gay Christian Network will meet in Pittsburg, PA, from January 5-8. Both LGBTQ Christians and their friends, families and allies are invited for a celebration of identity and belief.
National LGBTQ Taskforce Creating Change Conference
Pennsylvania is host to several LGBTQ conferences in 2017, in part to the state's anti-discrimination laws and attitudes. Philadelphia has prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1982, and several Pennsylvania-based Fortune 500 companies are known for their LGBTQ-friendly policies. On January 18-22, the City of Brotherly Love will host over 4,000 activists for talks on racial inequality, community service and religious faith. The conference scheduled is packed with day-long events, break-out sessions and even multiple dance parties. As one of the largest gatherings of the LGBTQ community, the Creating Change Conference cannot be missed.
State Pride Celebrations
One of the easiest ways to connect with your local LGBTQ community is to attend Pride Week in your area. Traditionally held in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots that launched the modern LGBTQ-acceptance movement, local Pride events include parades, speakers and gatherings. You can connect with political advocacy groups, discover health resources designed for your needs and make new friends in your community. Many events are free of charge. Smaller cities are often limited to a one-day parade or small series of gathering, but state capitals and LGBTQ centers like New York, Seattle and San Francisco have week- or even month-long festivities.
Out Women in Business
In New York City, a 2017 business-focused conference is offering mentorship for LBT women in the workplace. The Out Women in Business event focuses on the unique needs of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in the corporate work force. You'll network with like-minded women, listen to speakers who have successfully balanced their sexual orientation with the business world and learn how you can contribute to your company's mission. In 2017, the conference will take place on March 31.
LGBTQ people often struggle with high rates of depression, social anxiety and discrimination; large gatherings with others who share your sexual orientation can help you navigate these issues. If you're not ready for a large conference, gather a few friends and head to your local Pride Week. You'll be amazed at how much inner peace you can find at LGBTQ conferences.