Empty seats were a hot commodity on the first day of the WorldPride Human Rights Conference.
Several of the panels at the conference, taking place at the University of Toronto through June 27, filled so quickly that attendees had to find other sessions to take part in.
Brenda Cossman, co-chair of the event, is pleased with the turnout, which includes delegates from around the globe. “It turns out if you throw a party, people will actually come,” she says.
With more than 60 panels over three days and topics ranging from LGBT rights in the workplace to queer health, even the presenters are finding it hard to see everything they want to see or say everything they want to say.
Albert McLeod presented at a morning panel on June 25 about First Nations two-spirit activism. “I felt kind of constrained in the time that we were given,” he says.
Kenita Placide, the co-executive director of United and Strong Inc in St Lucia, was happy to have a chance to meet others in the LGBT community who are a part of the Caribbean diaspora. But equally important was the opportunity to see the faces behind the stories of LGBT activism that are told around the world. “It brings the true human being to the table,” she says.
For Torontonians like Lino Vieira, a communications officer at the Public Service Alliance of Canada, it was a chance to see what LGBT communities face outside the relatively open confines of the city. Vieira told Xtra that he hopes that with what he’s learned at the conference, his union can really start thinking about how to deal with trans issues in the workplace.
Even Cossman is learning new things. She is most excited for a panel about a group of elder LGBT activists in Taiwan, which takes place June 27 at 10:45am. “I had no idea there is LGBT elder activism going on in Taiwan,” she says.
The WorldPride Human Rights Conference continues at the University of Toronto through June 27.