A local LGBT organization will serve as the host group for a national convention that seeks to produce a realistic and tangible plan to alleviate prejudices plaguing the community.
Men of All Colors Together will host more than 125 people from around the country for the National Association of Black and White Men Together annual conference, July 29-Aug. 1 at the Crown Plaza Hotel, 1800 Market St.
MACT last staged the conference in 1999, and this year’s event, “Blueprint for Change: Yes, We Can, Together!” seeks to design a plan to unify the LGBT community against homophobia, racism and sexism.
“There are a lot of changes taking place in our community, and these are changes that won’t take place successfully unless we plan for them,” said Aaron Libson, co-chair of the event. “We have to decide what kind of change we want to see and how we can go about achieving it. This is a step that the LGBT community needs to take together. We need to be inclusive and we need to plan together, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The convention will feature numerous workshops and panel discussions, most of which are free and open to the public, and which will address a diverse repertoire of issues such as health, spirituality, the economy and the process of community organizing through modern technology.
Libson said convention organizers tried to design programming this year that encompasses all facets of the LGBT community, including transgender individuals.
“For a long time, that community has kind of been put on the back burner, so we wanted to make a special effort to do outreach to this community and make sure their views are represented,” he said.
In addition to the educational goals of the conference, Libson said the event also has a social component. Throughout the weekend, guests can partake in a pool party, a Talent/No-Talent fundraiser — a competition Libson jokingly promised will “combine people from both of these categories” — and a social at 12th Air Command Friday night.
On Saturday, the convention’s banquet dinner will bring together LGBT leaders, community members and special guest Patti LaBelle, who will receive an award from the organization for her commitment to the LGBT community.
While Libson noted that barriers among people of different races and sexual orientations have lessened since the last time MACT hosted the national convention, the organization still has important work to do to continue to fight societal biases.
“Nowadays we see that people can flow back and forth through all communities and it’s very common to see multiracial groups in all kinds of social circumstances, and that’s presented a challenge to us,” he said. “When you’re trying to fight for something and you achieve part of it, you have to answer the question, ‘Do we still have a reason to exist?’ That’s one of the things we’ve had to answer and I think we do; we just have to constantly try to reinvent ourselves and create a new plan, and we want to do that with the help of our friends in the community and our allies.”
For more information on the event, visit www.mact-phila.org.