SENIOR STAFF REPORTER
For the first time in its 25-year history, the MBLGTAC Conference will be held at a school in Nebraska.
It is not just a first for the state, it is the farthest west the conference has ever been held.
MBLGTACC stands for Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Trans and Ally College Conference. It is the largest and oldest continually-held LGBTQ+ college conference in the nation. Founded in 1993 at Iowa State University, the conference has been hosted at a different school every year since then.
2017 was the conference’s 25th anniversary. It was held by the Chicago Coalition of Queer and Allied Students at several Chicago universities. In 2018, it will be held on Feb. 16 to 18 on Dodge Campus. The conference will utilize several buildings, including Sapp Fieldhouse, Health and Kinesiology and College of Public Affairs and Community Service.
According to Peyton Wells, one of three executive chairs for the planning committee, hosting the conference at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is a landmark for the school and the state.
“It will literally put us on the map for LGBTQ+ college students who had no previous reason to visit or consider Nebraska,” Wells said, “and it will speak volumes about the activism and community involvement that is really growing here in Omaha.”
The conference is expecting an attendance of over 2,000 people. It will consist of breakout sessions featuring educational and empowering panels, workshops and more. Its focus is on LGBTQ+ students, but it is open to all students and advisors. The admission fee is $75 ahead of time and $100 on-site.
“UNO hosting this conference sends a clear message to our college community that UNO is a safe and welcoming institution to people of many different intersections,” chair of public relations Matthew Dooley said.
The conference’s theme is “All Roads Lead to Intersectionality.”
“We want to focus on how other aspects of people’s identities [such as] race, ability [and] socio-economic status affects and overlaps with being LGBTQ+ and how those intersections of identities are historically ignored or further marginalized,” Wells said.
There is also an annual drag show and formal dance, which are both popular among attendees. “It’s a great chance for folks to reclaim the experience of a formal school dance, which might’ve been difficult for them in middle or high school,” Wells said of the dance.
There will be numerous networking opportunities for jobs and internships with nonprofits and corporations at career and resource fairs during the event.
The mission of MBLGTACC 2018 is to “educate queer and trans Midwest students to empower and celebrate their identities, while enabling them to resist oppression and develop resiliency against personal and societal injustices.” It is based on the five “pillars” of celebration, resistance, empowerment, education and resiliency.
“We think this is an amazing opportunity for LGBTQ+ students and their allies to be a part of some community-building programming,” Wells said, “and let the Midwest know that Mavericks support Mavericks.”