I am just now getting around to writing about SalonLGBTQ. Some of you just freaked out and probably navigated away because of the LGBTQ. Those letters frighten people. Those letters make people want to disengage. Those letters confuse people... "WHAT DOES THE Q MEAN, OMG!" Well.
The "Q" in SalonLGBTQ stands for queer. It is what I am and it is what a large amount of the population identifies as. So WHY would the people of the LGBTQ community need a social media conference? I can hear it now...
"We don't have a straight conference! Why do you need a queer conference."
I am going to answer that question and TRY not categorize you with same people who ask me: "If Blacks get BET why don't Whites get WET."
We need a SalonLGBTQ because the mainstream social media conference don't fully support this demographic. Not that some haven't tried. I give mad props to Blogher for the things they have done. Queerosphere is awesome and the two years I have attended I've seen some great conversations being ignited for and about the queer community.
But. we. are. still. underrepresented.
I've planned a social media conference before. That shit ain't easy. I can't imagine trying to get sponsors to take a "risk" with the queer demographic... but you know what? Some did. And to those few I will be forever loyal. Those sponsors get it. They understand the power and importance of the queer demographic. The LGBTQ social media community is large and diverse community with much to offer readers, followers, and consumers. SalonLGBTQ and the sponsors who helped launch this inaugural year get it.
The conference was an informal and friendly atmosphere. We kicked things off with #SpiritDay Welcome Reception thanks to Riptide Publishing
The conference sessions boasted social media power houses like Shawn from Logo, Joe from True Colors, Schmutzie, Reneé from Wells Fargo, and The Gay Dad Project. The sessions were brief bio panels with question and answer style segments. Each panel/session I attended had an intimate feel and there were lots of questions and comments. More than feeling like you were being taught or talked to by the "expert", there was a feel of community debate and brainstorming. The environment was give and take. Several times I heard speakers say, "I don't know." I tried not to gasp.
Why? Because so often in the conference environment people try to embody expert and pretend they know ALL THE DAMN THINGS. It takes guts to be vulnerable and admit you aren't sure. These speakers were good at what they do AND humble enough to say "I don't know." I totally digged it.
The food was good (Atlanta knows how to eat!)
The layout was small and easy to navigate
and the schedule was just busy enough to keep my interest.
None of these things made the conference special for me. What made the conference special to me was this was the first time, EVER, I have attended a conference as a professional where I felt I had a safe space, a haven, to be myself. Sure there were the uncomfortable dynamics of dealing with personalities I don't mesh well with... but unequivocally I never felt that pause where I had to explain what it meant to be a "queer woman". I found myself not being the token black or queer. I found myself talking about things that I was passionate about without hesitation. I've never experienced this level of letting my guard down before, save therapy.
SalonLGBTQ has a lot of growing to do as a conference, as most young conferences do, but what it got BEYOND right was the dynamic and open people that supported the conference in it's first year... and I am happy to be one of them. Have I also mentioned. I love Deb Rox. I do. I love her, like whoa.
See you next year Salon LGBTQ
Follow some of my favorites from SalonLGBTQ, y'all!** And stay tuned for follow up SalonLGBTQ posts**
- :::Neo L. Sandja is a man of Trans experience, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and currently living in Atlanta. He is the president and owner of FTM Fitness World
- Amanda K. Zweerink is the Vice President of Marketing for Life360
- Brent Almond Design Nut , DesignerDaddy.com, Follow him on Twitter at @DesignerDaddy.
- Mike Street is a Senior Digital Strategist based in Harlem, NYC. Facebook page all about Harlem .Follow Mike on Twitter at@MrMikeStreet.
- Susan Goldberg is a writer, editor, essayist and blogger, and coeditor of the award-winning anthology And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families. Read more at Mama Non Grata. Susan tweets at@mamanongrata.
- :::Toni Rocca is a Queer Rights Activist and visionary behind the hit gaming convention, GaymerX.
- :::Emily Keenan is the Editor of 4 Real Equality Weddings, an LGBTQ wedding blog.
- :::Shawn Hollenbach is the Manager of Social Media Content at Logo
- :::Polly has been blogging about her experience as a lesbian parent since 2006, at Lesbian Dad