Staying up until three in the morning wasn't too difficult to do. It was sleeping on the bus that was the hardest. Taking twelve hours to reach our destination wasn't a walk in the park either.
But once we got there, saw all of the beautiful skyscrapers and landscapes with the old-looking buildings, it was like heaven.
Last weekend I went on a trip to Chicago and, more specifically, to the beautiful Navy Pier. The beauty of the city wasn't the only thing that made this trip memorable, though.
I was there for a school conference called MBLGTACC which stands for Midwestern Bisexual, Lesbain, Gay, Transgender, Ally College Conference (we pronounce it "mumble-tec" for short). This was my third year going to conference, but it was every bit as fun and educational as the first one.
For this conference, I was there to learn about the LGBTQ+ community as well as be surrounded by people who I know are queer in some way. (Yes, there were allies there, but they were still associating themselves with the community, which is awesome; we all need our allies.) But I was also able to see the amazing city while I was there and that will be the thing that stays with me.
The last time I was in Chicago, I was with some friends that I don't talk to anymore. So going back to the city was kind of hard for me and I wasn't too excited about it right away because of that feeling. I felt like the city had been ruined for me, which was devastating because I remembered absolutely loving it.
But once I got there, I was fascinated by the architecture and the landscapes and the skylines all over again. I was excited about Chicago again, and I couldn't wait to explore the city a little bit, as well as learn more about the community that I am a part of.
The conference was tiring and busy and educational. It was like a whole semester of college classes in only one weekend. But I learned so much.
How the conference works, is the organizers make a bunch of different topics, such as The Queer Aesthetic; Queer People of Color; Finding Queer People in Books; The Queer Community and Mental Health; and Queer People and Religion. These are then hosted by the people who have submitted that topic and researched and planned their session. Each session gets an hour to talk about their topic and discuss if necessary. There are usually six session times slotted for the weekend, but this year they were able to fit in eight.
Because there are so many different topics, everyone who attends the conference gets to choose what session they want to go to. This could be coordinated with their groups so that they can bring as much knowledge back to their Sexuality and Gender Alliances on their campuses as possible, or it can be decided individually for what each person is most interested in.
There are also different events that separate the sessions. These are usually keynote speakers (my first year we had Laverne Cox from Orange is the New Black the first night) or meals, but there is also usually a drag show and either a dance party or, this year, a game night on Saturday night so that everyone can take a break and have fun.
Every year is different from the year before it, not only in the session topics and keynote speakers, but also in the location. They usually host the conference on a college campus. My first year they had it at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. The second year was at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
This year was also different because it wasn't hosted on a college campus and was instead in a building on Navy Pier.
Navy Pier was absolutely breath taking. I had remembered it from the last time that I was there, but it was even more amazing this time. The weather was actually nice for February and the sun made the water sparkle and the skyline shine. (Anyone who has seen my pictures from this trip was probably getting tired of seeing this skyline.)
For a conference like this, a person gets tired quickly, especially if they are introverted and don't really like mornings (me). So it was necessary to take some time for myself sometimes throughout the day, which is when I went outside and looked at the beautiful scenery that surrounded me.
I learned a lot from this trip. Most of it was from the sessions, but I also learned that I shouldn't let someone else ruin a place for me. If I did, I would have never been able to experience this city again the way I did last weekend. It was beautiful, magical, and captivating and I can't wait to go back.