Editor's Note: Guest blogger Jenny Blair is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Trained as an emergency physician, she practiced in several states before switching to full-time writing. Her work has appeared in The Washington Spectator, The Austin Monitor, Discover, New Scientist, and Seven Days Vermont; she twice won the National Headliner Award for her column with The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.
Chanting "Trans lives matter!", activists in Denver took over the stage Thursday evening at Creating Change, the National LGBTQ Task Force's annual conference. Warmly supported by the audience of thousands, the protest appeared to lead to the cancellation of a planned speech by Denver mayor Michael Hancock.
Led by L.A.-based Latina trans activist Bamby Salcedo, the activists stormed the room as political humorist Kate Clinton was taking the stage at the plenary session. Blowing horns and holding protest signs high, they streamed through the aisles of the packed ballroom. They then crowded onto the stage and began a list of demands on behalf of trans and queer people, particularly those of color.
The audience quickly realized what was happening, rose to its feet, and joined the protest with chants, cheers, and applause.
Citing the recent killing by Denver police of 17-year-old Latina queer woman Jessie Hernandez, Salcedo read a list of demands aimed at ending the frequent killings as well as the economic, health, and social subjugation of trans people. She demanded that the queer community devote more resources to queer and trans people of color.
"We're here for intentional, meaningful investment in our community," Salcedo said, "and our efforts to end this motherf---ing epidemic!"
She aimed her critique not only at lawmakers but at LGBTQ organizations, including the Task Force, which had invited the mayor of Denver to speak at the plenary. Salcedo asked conference attendees to "cop-watch" if they saw a police interaction.
The critique extended to hiring practices.
"LGBT organizations need to hire trans people and incorporate those people into leadership positions," Salcedo said. "If you serve us, you need to include us."
When Clinton regained the microphone, she had warm words for the activists.
"This is why I love Creating Change," Clinton said. "We've still got lots of work to do."
She and Russell Roybal, the Task Force's deputy executive director of external relations, thanked the activists for their action. Later speakers also turned to thank the group, which gathered on the side of the room after completing its protest.
Roybal then announced that the Denver mayor would not be speaking after all. The audience reacted with cheers and clapping.
Images via Twitter.