The largest and most comprehensive LGBTQA and Ally youth issues conference in the world, True Colors XXIII, are seeking volunteers to help out when they come to the University of Connecticut Storrs campus during spring break.
Founder and current Executive Director of True Colors Robin McHaelen, facilitated a meeting Tuesday night at the Rainbow Center for students interested in volunteering at the conference and how they can help make it a success.
The conference will be held on March 18 and 19 and will focus on intersectionality. McHaelen defined intersectionality as human beings having many identities that intersect with each other.
“Sometimes we privilege one [identity] over the other,” she said.
To help put it into better context, a returning volunteer shared that she identifies as a gay Christian. When she’s in church she might be less likely to show her “gay side” and vice versa.
McHaelen said it is important to create space for each identity to be acknowledged and valued, something the conference will do.
The two-day event will bring together the best professional minds across an array of disciplines such as: child welfare, juvenile justice, clinical treatment, K-12 education, college environment and curricula, administration and policy. Also present will be advocacy workshops for youth and adults, spiritual institutes and workshops for parents and family members, youth and allies, according to the True Colors website.
McHaelen emphasized the goal of the conference is to create a welcoming space for participants to feel valued and comfortable; and how volunteers help create that atmosphere.
She then asked those sitting in the room to offer what made them feel welcomed.
Responses ranged from being addressed by name, enthusiasm of an environment, seeing a crowd of people, community connection, transparency and positive body language.
“The primary job (as a volunteer) is to make sure everyone feels welcomed,” McHaelen said.
For Kenny Glazer, a first-semester illustration major who attended the conference for three years with his high school’s Gay Straight Alliance group (GSA), this will be his first year volunteering.
Kylie Miller, a first-semester history major and friend of Glazer, said if it weren’t for him she would have never gotten to experience the conference. Glazer had bought her ticket to attend the year before.
“It was the most amazing experience, I had never been to anything like that,” she said. “I finally felt accepted.”
First-semester ACES major, Katherine Folker, said that True Colors creates a necessary environment for LGBTQA individuals to be loud, proud and encouraged.
Meetings will be held Feb. 2, Feb. 16, March 1, March 8 and April 5 in the Rainbow Center, located in room 403 in the Student Union. Students are welcome to come to any meeting at any time to get involved. For more information about the conference visit ourtruecolors.org.