NGLTF Creating “No Change” 2013: Sue Hyde non-‘splains to the Lesbian Caucus, outlines Future Non-changes

The following is National Gay and Lesbian Task Force director Sue Hyde’s response to rejected Lesbian workshops and complete lack of Lesbian-specific  programming at NGLTF’s Creating Change conference.
This response was NOT freely offered but was prompted by the following inquiry sent by Lesbian Caucus facilitator Shannon Avery:
Dear Sue, 
I’m writing to you on behalf of the Lesbian Caucus, which was created at the 2012 Creating Change Conference in Baltimore. As you are aware, there was some dismay expressed by lesbians who felt disregarded by the conference agenda and the lack of lesbian-oriented programming. In response to that problem, Creating Change made room for the meeting of a Lesbian Caucus on Saturday, January 28, 2012. 

The Lesbian Caucus meeting was attended by approximately 85 individuals, many of whom expressed the following concerns:
*a desire to discuss “sex vs. gender” and how to navigate that space in a manner respectful of all members of the GLBT Community – including Lesbians,
*the need for concrete, practical guidance with regard to legal, health/medical and insurance issues as Lesbians age,
*the need for an experiential, intergenerational dialogue among Lesbians of all ages (several young women poignantly expressed disappointment at the lack of images or role models, specifically for lesbians),
*Lesbian invisibility, and
*Lesbian-safe space away from Male-dominated space, (One commenter noted that the welcome conference bag provided by NGLTF included a condom and lube, but nothing for Females. Other participants noted that the conference’s “gender neutral bathrooms” forced Lesbians to relieve themselves in space with Males – not trans women, mind you, but nontrans Gay Males.),
*the need for a communication platform for lesbians to network and communicate.
As a result of this discussion, the Caucus asked NGLTF to, among other things:

*include programming at Creating Change that addresses lesbian needs in the areas of health, family, legal and insurance problems, military issues unique to women, and discrimination,
*create images of women created by women,
*address oppression of Females in the GLBT Movement,
*create Lesbians-safe space, including the establishment of a Lesbian Suite at Creating Change,
*establish the Women’s/Lesbian/Women Same-Gender Loving Caucus as a permanent caucus,
*respect that the word “Queer” does not always include Females and use language inclusive of Females,
*extend scholarships to Women living in poverty so they can attend Creating Change, including scholarships for travel and accommodations.
Since the Lesbian Caucus was held January 28, some exciting things have happened – Lesbians have continued the conversation, both in our communities and on the Internet. We established an email list, a Facebook group (now with more than 600 members!), and a blog to allow us space to speak to one another and to find ways to rebuild our community. One of the themes that has resonated among this vast and diverse group of women is the feeling of alienation from mainstream LGBT organizations. We believe this feeling of alienation is rooted concretely in the exclusion and marginalization of lesbians and lesbian-specific concerns. 

We as Lesbians feel a renewed sense of purpose and community. It is our hope that the Lesbian Caucus, convened in Baltimore, represents a new beginning to increase Lesbian visibility and to ensure that Sisters are not left behind in this struggle for Equality.
I see that you are a member of the Lesbian Caucus (Facebook group) and that you have access to the documents attached to that group. Those documents contain a more detailed history and statement of concerns than what I have included in this letter. I hope that you have taken the time to read them and consider them as you begin preparations for the next conference in Atlanta. 

I hope to hear back from you regarding what efforts you are making to (1) address the concerns of the Lesbian Caucus, (2) include feminist lesbians in the planning process, and (3) include workshops and programs that are so vital to lesbians who attend the Creating Change conference.

[Bolding by me-GM]

Apparently the answers to those three bolded questions are 1. Ignore the concerns of the Lesbian Caucus. 2. NOT include feminist lesbians in the planning process and 3. Continue to reject lesbian workshops.
But you can draw your own conclusions from her response below:
Hello Shannon,
Thank you for your note below and thanks to the sisters on this thread.
At the Task Force, we were happy to include the Lesbian Caucus as a late addition to the programming at Creating Change 2012.  I think the attendance number itself speaks to the interest in having more discussions and sessions at Creating Change 2013 in Atlanta that directly address the concerns of lesbians in the LGBT political movement.  So, congratulations to all of you for a very successful Lesbian Caucus.
Regarding the programming of the Creating Change Conference, about 65% of our programming content (workshop sessions, trainings, caucus sessions) is derived from session proposals submitted by interested people.  While it is not difficult to submit a proposal, the process itself is competitive in the sense that we receive about 350 proposals and typically schedule about half of those received.  The session RFP will go live on the Creating Change Conference web site in mid-summer; the deadline for submissions is Sept. 30, 2012.  In addition to posting at the Creating Change web site, we will also be sending it out to all CC12, CC11 and CC10 attendees for whom we have email addresses.  I look forward to receiving more proposals of interest to lesbians.  The Lesbian Caucus will be a part of Creating Change if it is submitted as a proposed session.  We do not independently schedule caucuses or sessions for which we don’t have a proposal, since each session needs facilitators and/or presenters.
The Creating Change Conference is titled The National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change.  With use of the phrase “LGBT,” we explicitly include lesbians in the name and the vision of the conference.  The Task Force does not typically use the word “queer” in reference to the organization’s programmatic work, but we have done so in specific circumstances.  For example, the Task Force has launched a campaign to include questions about LGBT people in future Census questionnaires.  That campaign is titled Queer the Census, the goal of  which is to “count LGBT people in Census questions.”  Use of the word “queer” in this instance was to deploy it as a verb, not a noun.
While we do offer scholarships to attendees, the scholarship programs are limited to registration fees and do not include travel or accommodations.  I do not anticipate expanding our scholarship programs to include travel and accommodations.  Registration scholarships are available to interested persons who submit a brief statement of application.  The registration scholarships offer two levels of registration fees: a $25 registration and a $100 registration.  As well, we offer a limited income registration of $150.  Our online registration operation will launch in September, 2012.
Since 2000, we have re-flagged restrooms at the conference site as “Gender Neutral.”  This is suitable and comfortable for many of our attendees.  There is always a set of restrooms that remain gender specific during the conference for anyone who prefers that.  In Baltimore, the gender specific restrooms were located adjacent to the Lobby Bar in the lobby area of the Hilton Baltimore.
The hospitality suites were launched in 1997 at the Creating Change Conference held in San Diego.  We specifically launched the suites to address an ongoing issue faced by young people attending the conference: many young people cannot afford the food/beverage costs associated with attending a hotel-based event.  Since 1997, we have added other suites, primarily for the same reason: to offer a no-cost food/beverage option to people who might otherwise be unable to attend Creating Change.  Certainly, the hospitality suites serve other functions, including community building, but from our perspective, the suites create a conference that is more accessible.  For Creating Change 2013, we have signed a contract that gives us use of hospitality spaces for youth, elders, people of color, disabled people, transgender people and bisexual people.   In future years, it may be possible to secure an additional hospitality space that could be dedicated to lesbians attending Creating Change, but for Creating Change 2013, the hospitality spaces available are already committed.
You also note below “images of women created by women.”  With respect to the 2012 Creating Change Conference recently held in Baltimore, our photographers were lesbians.  They took many photos of women some of which are posted at the Creating Change Facebook page.  We honored legendary lesbian photographer Joan E. Biren with an award this year; some of her pictures accompanied her award presentation and acceptance remarks.  We honored Kathy Greenlee, the lesbian Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Mira Patel, on the staff of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, is an out lesbian who spoke on the International LGBT Issues and Organizing panel on Saturday. Our executive director, Rea Carey, a lesbian, delivered the annual State of the Movement address.  The Emcee for our plenary sessions was Kate Clinton, a lesbian.  Scores and scores of lesbians presented at sessions throughout the program.  While I understand there is dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the content of the conference program, I want to point out the highly visible lesbians on the program because I think each of these women creates images of women, both of themselves and more generally of women in our political movement.
You also note below “oppression of Females in the GLBT movement.”  There is sexism in the LGBT movement, just as there is every other kind of ism in the LGBT movement.  An important purpose of the Creating Change Conference is to bring together a diverse and varied group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people so that we can learn to work together better and more authentically as who we are and what our lives represent.  I and other staffers at the Task Force strive to make Creating Change a place and a space where our voices, visions and energies will be valued and respected and where we join together to build a stronger movement for freedom and equality for all.
Thank you again for sharing the outcomes of the Lesbian Caucus with me!
Sue Hyde


Join the Lesbian Caucus on Google:  HERE.
Or join on Facebook:  HERE.

24 thoughts on “NGLTF Creating “No Change” 2013: Sue Hyde non-‘splains to the Lesbian Caucus, outlines Future Non-changes

  1. with that many proposals, and no lesbian content, you think they’d be asking themselves some SERIOUS questions as to they ended up with such a non-inclusive conference! If no lesbian proposals had been submitted , or any that were were rejected, ANY decent organisers would be asking themselves — what the hell are we doing wrong, because we are FAILING dismally in our stated aims, and can’t legitimately call ourselves “The National Conference on LGBT Equality”, if lesbians aren’t represented.
    What about the 35% that wasn’t based on submitted proposals?
    In fact, if it were me, I’d be using this as a prime example of what change is still needed, because if even the LGBT equality conference can’t get lesbians more visible, what chance do we have in the rest of society?
    Lesbians are in the name and the ‘vision’, what more do we expect? Because they don’t seem that bothered!

  2. I’m not talking tokenism here, WITHIN a sea of past, present, future males, I’m talking LESBIAN SPECIFIC PROGRAMMING…not workshops Lesbians are leading that are fore the entire alphabet soup, or workable in Sue Hyde’s estimation.
    At least the Creating Change I attended in 1999 DID have a ‘Feminist Butches’ workshop which I attended, and loved, but of course the FTM’s crashed it and had to get their two cents in in the question and answer period. Even though they had TONS of their OWN workshops. But there wasn’t nearly enough Lesbian content for my tastes to want to come back EVER to Creating Change, and I can see Creating Change hasn’t changed at all! And Sue Hyde is still the ‘go to’ person for leading workshops…..from then to now. Excuses, excuses, excuses, she’s a typical politician. It’s time she stepped down and let another Dyke identified Dyke take her place! Time Lesbians organize on our own again, and not kowtow to the alphabet soup movement…..which is why we broke off in the first place. Simply too damned male identified, and transapologist for my tastes! I’d much rather go to Michfest!

  3. Lesbians are the bottom of the heap. This is partly about money and careers, so why have Lesbians involved.
    Thank you, Gallus, for the update!

  4. It’s always worked better for Lesbians to have our own spaces, conferences, gatherings, etc. That’s how our movement started. But they should at least be honest and take the “L” out.

  5. I just LOVE how Sue Hyde says ELEVEN MONTHS isn’t enough time to reserve a suite in a hotel. Hahahahaha! Jesus. The ugly.

  6. “Since 2000, we have re-flagged restrooms at the conference site as ‘Gender Neutral.’ This is suitable and comfortable for many of our attendees.”
    Translation: We don’t really care if women — especially rape and incest survivors — are hideously uncomfortable sharing bathrooms with men. We just want to make sure that “trans women” can whip out their junk and wizz where ever they wish. Because, after all, they were born male and males COUNT. Females? Not so much.

  7. “For Creating Change 2013, we have signed a contract that gives us use of hospitality spaces for youth, elders, people of color, disabled people, transgender people and bisexual people.”
    Translation: The needs of youth, elders, people of color, disabled people, transgendered people and bisexual people are what we care about. We don’t really care about the needs of Lesbians in general, even after a Lesbian Caucus convenes and TELLS US what they need. Can’t y’all just come and be invisible again?

  8. “Thank you again for sharing the outcomes of the Lesbian Caucus with me!”
    Translation: We plan to ignore 99% of what y’all told us you want and need in future conferences and in the alphabet-soup movement in general, but hey, thanks for wasting your time and allowing us to pretend to care and pretend to listen! Have a nice day!

  9. Good night! (as my grandmother used to say)
    What a bunch of *politic* boilerplate bullshit. Chonky and I are of the same mind that we really should just take our L someplace else – who wants to be associated with all of them anyway?
    I mean, we screamed bloody murder when they added the “B”…

  10. Seeing as women as a class earn less than men do, and seeing as how Lesbians are likely to earn even less, why wouldn’t the Task Force provide a hospitality suite for Lesbians–if economics are really the reason?
    I attended one CC back in the 90’s, having been asked to sit on a panel on media relations; my presentation was not Lesbian-specific, and I don’t recall any others that were, either. I DO recall that workshops and panels etc. on AIDS were the most prominent. Of course, these were by and for men, primarily.
    I would love to know how contributions to NGLTF break down by sex in terms of numbers of donors (rather than amounts of donations.) I’d bet anything that more women than men donate, even if we have less to give. I’d bet even more that tranz people don’t do much giving at all, to anything. They seem, to me anyway, like a lot of takers. (I wish I were wrong, but I bet I’m not.)
    How do we find out?

  11. Lesbians need to organize and create change on our own. It’s time to stop being the alphabet. We were perfectly fine with our own community, and it is a complete waste of time to deal with politicians and non-profit organizations. The letter was a complete obfuscation, but hey, lesbians do have these jobs, but somehow, in my experience, lesbians always seem to get short shrift.
    A hospitality room of our own? A lesbian only hospitality room, so lesbians nationwide can organize… it seems they try to prevent this. I’m willing to bet that gay men and government grants are the big money makers for this organization.
    And when we switched to this fundraiser non-profit model of activism, lesbians really lost out big time.
    That’s when it really started to go down hill fast.
    600 lesbians on a FB page is enough to create change nationwide that will be 100% beneficial to lesbians. We need to be donating money to lesbian only things, and we need to take our labor away from this non-woman loving environment. There will always be token lesbians in these non-profit organizations, writing stupid letters like this. It’s their mentality, and they won’t change. It’s about their jobs, careers, and the trans lobby.

    1. “It’s time to stop being the alphabet.”
      Absolutely, ShielaG. I think for women in general that’s a real problem, we always get pushed into putting everyone elses needs before our own. Before you know it, it’s all about the alphabet and our particular letter just fades away and goes missing. There’s no “W” and now there’s no “L,” either.
      “With use of the phrase “LGBT,” we explicitly include lesbians in the name and the vision of the conference.”
      This is such a typical gaslighting tactic. It means, “you’re crazy, you have all the representation you need!” Recently we had an all male panel of congresscritters who thought they were doing a fine job hosting a hearing on women’s healthcare. Hey, no need for any actual women to be involved, your name is already in the subject matter, so you’re being represented just fine! See how that works?
      This conference has an obligation to practice some affirmative action or whatever you want to call it. It is their responsibility to do everything in their power to make sure the “L” is being represented. For example, if everybody was male or everybody was white, it is not acceptable to imply that it is the fault of women or minorities. If you are organizing an event that is truly dedicated “to bring together a diverse and varied group,” then your job is to make sure that you have scheduled equal time for everybody.

  12. As I said before, we have to go back to the basics.
    Basic concept one: organize lesbian only conferences. Basic concept two: Get used to funding our own events, and becoming more economically self-sufficient. We don’t need gay male money at all, but we do have to be more serious about our funding prioritites.
    Get away from the non-profit tax structure completely, it forces you to do things that are not good for lesbians overall. Beward the structures!
    Become more disciplined, have higher standards.
    Deal directly, to make sure FTtrans are evicted immediately. Get security help right away, and don’t play games with them.
    Gaslighting over the L in LGBT is really what it’s all about. The non-profit sell out lesbians always use this feeble excuse, and they know they are lying. That’s what so creeps me out with these people. They are careerists, not community based, it’s a big difference.

  13. NOw I KNOW I’m not crazy. Cuz I’ve been shouting at the wind saying all these same things, for years. As far as I’m concerned Sue Hyde and Kate Kendall(NCLR) can go fuck themselves and their nonprofit sellouts to Lesbians they rode in on. These monied Lesbians DO NOT represent me, but they are oh so eager to represent trans. Thanks all, for restoring my Dyke sanity! And no, I won’t go back to Creating Change. And so Lesbians should have THEIR OWN hospitality suite, and take donations if need be for it, and show up en masse in protest at Creating Change, get Lesbian t shirts, colors, signs, ect. to SHOW them we are no longer willing to be invisible and subsumed around the rest of the alphabet, if we even want to waste time with them……..and not rely on these sold out gay nonprofits to even represent us…cuz obviously THEY DON’T!!!!!

  14. As I said before, we had very strong lesbian feminist communities, events, magazines, music festivals, fairs, theater, book stores, cafes… I could go on, and none of these things were non-profits. None of these things had anything to do with men, and certainly the trans invasion was almost non-existent even 20 years ago. But what happened, is certain lesbians saw a big break with the AIDS epidemic, and decided that they wanted to be the head honchos of a lot of gay male organizations. I think all that wasted time gaining entry to these groups took away from the energy of lesbian feminism, collectives etc.
    So now we have women who just lie to stay in power, like any politico out there. And they even look alive at times, it’s weird. They seem unaccountable to any strong community…. so we need to think about this. How could a strong community, say 1000 committed dykes be ready to spring into action, to set up hospitality booths, to have security, to create power.
    We have virtually nothing in common with gay men, trans and certainly more in common with het women.
    And a lot of us have been uneasy about non-profitism for a long long time now. I’ve personally known many grass roots lesbians, who, well got swallowed up by this stuff. The Hyde woman being the latest example. Now our voices are being heard, we’re finally laying it on the line here. Women are waking up, writing letters, getting a clue. They depend on a slave labor, on our willingness to have “coalitions”– another fancy word for lesbians last and everyone else before our interests.

  15. Our interests are very clear. We want space we control without exception. We want places of our own to discuss our own issues free of trans invasions or bi invasions or other disruptions. We want LESBIAN and WOMEN to be in the headings.
    I’ve been putting my foot down very clearly, and this blog gives me a feeling that we have a shared best interest. Women have the hardest time putting ourselves first… we know we are trained to be the slaves of everyone else, to slobber over every damn cause but our own. This is patriarchal conditioning, and it is HARD to overcome. It’s why we have to have lesbian only space, so that lesbians can talk, meet organize without interruption, disruption and drama. And we have a right to demand this very loudly, and we should be very careful who gets our money, and I can tell you right now, if it isn’t lesbian only… if it’s the alphabet, count me out.

  16. As I read Sue Hyde’s reply I had to keep reminding myself, “this was written by a woman.” Her reply used the kind of obfuscation and condescending tone I would have expected from a man in her position. Careerist? She must be. The conference strives to welcome a diverse and varied group, but once your check clears no one said you could speak. Show up, pay, stand at the back of the room and shut the fuck up. Sue Hyde and the organizers of this conference need to lose their lesbian subsidy. And just in case you didn’t already know, Sue would like to inform you that Kate Clinton is a lesbian and the word queer in this context was used as a verb, not a noun, for all you grammatically challenged lesbians out there living under rocks. I don’t think I could have found her response more insulting if she’d concluded every sentence with “OK, sugartits?”

  17. Darcie, I’ve noticed this condescention just about everywhere these days in these “community” organizations. I never thought I’d see the day where we had condescention, PR blather and out and out rejection of lesbian needs done by other lesbians!
    They want those jobs. I don’t know what they pay, but they have these jobs, and if you want to keep them you have to tow the party line, which is what Hyde is doing in this letter. They know they sold out years ago.
    Recently I was talking to one of these “queer” social service hacks, and even she had a smarmy condescending tone to her voice… the kind of voice men use “now dear calm down” or “honey it’s time to take your meds…” you know that creepy tone of voice.
    I was just shocked to hear it, because never before had a lesbian EVER talked to me that way. Yeah, they made “queer” a professional occupation, and out the window went the community service!!!

  18. Maybe Sue Hyde is in need of a career change? Perhaps she could get a job denying health care benefits to cancer patients? Or denying home mortgage restructuring to the elderly? Or explaining to the families of suicides why they won’t get a life insurance pay-out?
    She seems to really enjoy working her way through the many and varied ways of telling other people, “No” — even people with whom you’d expect her to be supportive and respectful.

  19. “How could a strong community, say 1000 committed dykes be ready to spring into action, to set up hospitality booths, to have security, to create power.
    We have virtually nothing in common with gay men, trans and certainly more in common with het women.
    And a lot of us have been uneasy about non-profitism for a long long time now. I’ve personally known many grass roots lesbians, who, well got swallowed up by this stuff. The Hyde woman being the latest example. Now our voices are being heard, we’re finally laying it on the line here. Women are waking up, writing letters, getting a clue. They depend on a slave labor, on our willingness to have “coalitions”– another fancy word for lesbians last and everyone else before our interests.” -Sheila G
    Sheila, I so agree with you. I’ve been saying this same shit for years, and have been continually accused of being ‘too Separatist’ EVERY TIME I put Lesbian interests first and foremost….well yes, I am….but women these days are accused of being Separatists or that it’s Separatist to even have women only, much less Dyke space, that REALLY IS women only or Dyke space….like you shouldn’t even mention it cuz the trans and their gay male friends will be excluded……awww…….
    Now, Hyde, is not
    ‘the latest example’…she has been around like I said since I went to Creating Change in Oakland in 1999! So her time, 13 years, has been quite a long stint while denying more and more Lesbian only workshops over the years…what a sellout!
    I myself wanted to propose a workshop for Creating Change, and she effectively shot me down, so I didn’t bother…but I DID work on the 12 step committee to get into the rather very expensive event for free…..($200 at that time).
    I’m sure she’s making anywhere in the neighborhood of $75,000-150,000 a year for her position of power…..yeah I’m sure the gay boys pay her well….too many Dyke friends and partners I’ve known have worked nonprofits, and being the endline lowest paid workers dealing with often difficult and needy clients have been worked to death, given minimal benefits, little respect, barely any raises, while the administrative staff makes $70,000 to $150,000 each, especially the out of touch Executive Directors…..I think ‘nonprofit’ is a way to just rip off those who are at the bottom of the totem pole in the work world and expect them to ‘give all’ for the cause, while the upper echelon fatcats, though paid less than in the private sector, still get to do a bunch of luncheons and conferences with the powers that be, including the kissing ass they gotta do to raise funds from the rich who ultimately pull their strings and the governmental/political powers that be as well, with not too much accountability from the rank and file community members whose individual bucks they also rely on, and beg for. And if you’re a Butch Dyke, you’re gonna be treated even worse in these nonprofits, while the queeny gay boys, are seen as the lil media darlin’s and given alot more pay and privilege. Yep, I can speak personally to this having seen my friends and partners suffer under the exploitation of these nonprofits…..
    But a Lesbian who plays the power games, and isn’t too threatening to the male status quo, or too Butch or too radical or out there or whatever…..CAN make it, as long as she plays ball, and sells her sisters down the river…..
    Well, we can play ball, too, but let it be hard ball, and we aren’t fooling around anymore, or giving money to you to continue to sell us and our communities and our spaces and identities and very beings out!

  20. You’re absolutely right, Sheila — like many predicted in the Seventies, if you become part of the system, then you really do become part of patriarchy. I can imagine the offer of a job doing Lesbian or Gay community work sounded like a very good deal in the beginning. And then the career becomes more important than anything, even if it means selling out Lesbians. The incredibly and creepy patronizing they do just adds insult to the injury. (Yes, like the victim of psychiatrists being told, “This is for your own good, dear,” as they attach the electrodes. Do they get trained in the same place?)
    I’m guessing that those few who tried to keep working for Lesbians were gotten rid of. It’s been years now that Kate Kendall chose a man (M2T) as their new lawyer because my Lesbian friend who applied was “too Separatist.” She would have devoted her life to helping Lesbians, but I realize now she would have not lasted because they primarily do not help Lesbians.
    You’re right, Rose. If Sue Hyde loses this job, I’m sure those agencies doing what you described would be happy to hire her.
    So much money and so many resources, with too much of it donated by well-meaning Lesbians, and it goes to not just help everyone but us, but to those working against us. Wouldn’t it be a tiny bit more tolerable if they just admitted it instead of the patronizing crap? But then they couldn’t con so many Lesbians.
    Another problem is that when you try to talk to other Lesbians about all this (like when NCLR was featured last week at a local Lesbian event in order to get more donations), that most get very hostile and think you’re being too negative and they just don’t want to know.

Comments are closed.