Creating Change newbies feel empowerment, learn lessons

Q&A: Charlotte's Micah Johnson and Columbia's Justin Wise

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: January 26, 2013 in News

[Ed. Note -- Our editor, Matt Comer, is covering the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change conference live from Atlanta. Follow updates online at goqnotes.com or on Twitter @qnotescarolinas. The conference hashtag on Twitter is #CC13.]

ATLANTA — First-time attendees of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference say they’ve felt a sense of empowerment as they meet activists from across the country and prepare to take lessons learned from conference workshops back to their work at home.

Micah Johnson, school outreach coordinator for Charlotte’s Time Out Youth, is attending Creating Change, the nation’s largest gathering of LGBT activists and organizers. So is Justin Wise, an active member of the Columbia community where he serves on the Harriet Hancock LGBT Community Center Board of Advisors and on the board of South Carolina Pride, among others.

qnotes had the opportunity to catch up with Johnson and Wise this weekend to get their thoughts on the conference. Their edited responses below.

Matt Comer: Had you ever heard of the Task Force and Creating Change before coming to the conference this weekend?

Micah Johnson

Micah Johnson: I’ve been familiar with the Task Force for a couple years. I’ve never been able to attend. My past work didn’t involve LGBT youth specifically.

Justin Wise: Yes. I knew it was a lot of fun and there were a lot of sessions. I hadn’t been able to come in the past because of school.

M.C.: Now that you are here, what are your impressions?

M.J.: It is awesome. There’s so much energy and passion here. It’s almost overwhelming — that energy alone. The amount of information I’ve been getting is awesome. I get to the end of the day and I’m tired.

Justin Wise

J.W.: It has been overwhelming, seeing all the sessions and workshops and all the people.

M.C.: What have you most enjoyed while you’ve been here?

M.J.: I attended the Safer Schools Institute with the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network and the Racial Justice Institute. Of the two, the Racial Justice Institute is where I probably had the most growth personally. It was very deep, very thoughtful through the entire day.

J.W.: I enjoyed a workshop on the South, God, sex and politics and a session on “hanging out and hooking up,” which was about sex education and safety for young people.

M.C.: Are you looking forward to taking the lessons you’ve learned here and applying them at home?

M.J.: Yes. Here is like you get bits and pieces of information, which can be kind of frustrating. But there are definitely pieces I’m taking back.

J.W.: I’m going to take those lessons back to the organizations I’m involved in and train others on the issues, especially on some of the sex education topics I learned.