This year GSA Network staff traveled to Baltimore to attend the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s national conference on LGBT equality, Creating Change. Over five days, activists from around the country, and the world, gathered in workshops and meetings to discuss the LGBTQ movement. We met up with GSA activist Shaily Haikimian, a student from Indiana University, and interviewed her on her experience at Creating Change.
Read the interview below or watch the video on YouTube.
Dulce Garcia, GSA Network: Where are you from?
Shaily Haikimian: I’m originally from the North suburbs of Chicago – Lincolnshire, Illinois - but I currently live in Bloomington, Indiana, at Indiana University.
DG: When did you become an activist?
SH: My freshman year of high school I decided to sign up for the Day of Silence. And I knew after that day I should start doing more. My sophomore year I started doing work with the GSA and my work really blossomed from there.
DG: You lead a workshop at Creating Change about GSA activism. What was it about?
SH: The workshop included ways to start a GSA and ideas to incorporate into a GSA. Many people don’t realize that almost always there’s a right to a GSA. If you’re in a community that says, “We can’t have a GSA because it’s against our values.” You know, the law is with you most of the time.
DG: What activism skills or new ideas from Creating Change are you going to take back with you?
SH: A lot of the conversations we had here were all about privilege – the privilege we have, when do we check our privilege, and when can we utilize our privilege to get our movement ahead of the game. It’s been a recurring theme at a lot of the queer conferences I’ve been to and I think that’s a huge take away – to make us all come together in our differences.
DG: What inspires you to be an activist?
SH: I think the youth really do inspire me to be an activist. When I see someone else or myself helping a youth become better and want to take another step to do more work or to even just come out. I think that is so beautiful. That means that our work is already successful when we can make kids feel comfortable with who they are. And I think that’s what continues to motivate me; because I know - even if we just change one life you’ve already made a difference.
Haikimian is making it better and creating change by educating others on how to start a GSA. To watch the full video, click here. Her story inspired us to create change, too.
To read more about Creating Change, visit: http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/01/creating_change_2012.html
Also at Creating Change, FIERCE youth 'mic checked' the Obama administration and call attention to the lack of support given to LGBT/Q youth of color. Youth across the nation are demanding their voice be heard!
See the video!