Fall 2001
You Came! You Saw!...You Were Happy!
A Review of the 2001 Conference
LAGPA's Seventh Annual Pride conference, held at the Sofitel on June 23, was a true turning point in queer conferences in California. Cosponsored this year with Tarzana Treatment Centers, Inc. and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, the collaboration between these three organizations speaks to our mutual community building efforts and the desire to partner with like minded organizations to support the needs of our community. The theme this year, Spanning the Divide: Creating Connections in Mental Health, provided the umbrella concept. A record nine workshops covered subjects ranging from the psychoanalytic to art therapy, and from transgender topics to work with bisexual clients. The presenters were  widely published authors and well renowned speakers in the field of GLBT mental health.

One speaker, Carlton Cornett, ACSW, is running for Congress next year. The committee which produced the conference had taken a serious look at the diverse needs and wishes of LAGPA members who had said that they wanted well known and informative presenters. Members of the committee worked for six months seeking out these speakers who in turn, responded with generous enthusiasm and excitement to be a part of this event. They traveled from far distances like Carlton Cornett, ACSW, from Nashville, TN, Sari Dworkin, PhD from Fresno, CA, Kathleen Ritter, PhD, from Bakersfield, CA and especially our keynote speaker, California State Senator Sheila Kuehl from Sacramento.

Our attendees also came from far and wide including Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona and we were blessed this year with twice as many attendees as last year. Among the one hundred twenty-two people who attended, most returning members renewed their membership with LAGPA for an extra conference discount, and we had over thirty new members join LAGPA for the first time. The member information table, which provided space for attendee flyers regarding their professional endeavors and announcements was overflowing with useful information.

Our keynote speaker, Sheila Kuehl, infused the conference with the power of her presentation, reminding us that we are agents of change, and we can work miracles in our workplace, our homes, our community, and amongst each other. She shared stories of her experiences as a legislator in Sacramento, and through working with her colleagues and getting to know  the other legislators, she created an opportunity to change minds and hearts, and opened up a healing process for many in the capitol, in her district, and here in Los Angeles. Such a wise challenge, along with encouraging examples of how we can transform the world we live in, was the best summary of the conference. By paying attention to the many wonderful facets of our community and how individual people experience their lives, we can effect change.

Hand in hand with this were the lessons learned in the twenty years of working in the GLBT community by featured speaker Carlton Cornett, ACSW. He indicated that when he started as a psychotherapist, he had a mission of his own, which he quickly realized was not in tune with what his clients needed. Once he changed that perspective and listened to the persons he served, he was reshaped. This grew into to a life of professional and political activism, which has eventually led him to work beyond his office, and currently to a bid for the House of Representatives. Of all the elements of a successful conference, the most important is the people who attend and play an active role in each session. Through the honest and detailed evaluations, you told us how much you enjoyed the conference, what worked and what did not work for each of you. These composite evaluations are a guiding element in producing next year's conference. We look forward to growing even bigger and better next year. Send in your suggestions or join the Conference Committee who are already actively working on the event. Most importantly, save the date June 22, 2002.         

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