Centering the Margins 2020: Building Community and Rethinking Virtual Gatherings

This Saturday, October 17, the American Humanist Association will join the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance (LGBTQHA) in hosting the second annual Centering the Margins Summit, geared towards LGBTQ humanists, nontheists, and freethinkers around the country. Registration is free for our virtual convening.

In preparation for last year’s inaugural summit in Washington, DC, LGBTQHA Chair Diane Burkholder shared her vision for an event—and a movement—that breaks through silos in which people are asked to eschew important components of their identity in order to engage in the secular community. She remarked,

The process of moving out of these silos can be slow and painstaking, but the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance and the American Humanist Association are dedicated to building authentic relationships that foster leadership development, as opposed to tokenism. The first Centering the Margins summit will expand the room by making an intentional space and offering a program that reflects our real and varied identities.

Due to the uncontrolled coronavirus pandemic, Centering the Margins is going virtual this year, and the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance is pulling out all the stops to rethink what a virtual conference can and should look like. The event will be closed captioned, it will be held meeting-style so participants can engage each other on camera (or not), and the bulk of the summit will be comprised of interactive sessions, workshops, and small break-out groups to facilitate community-building and interaction. This is a unique opportunity to bring together LGBTQ humanists across the country without the barriers travel creates and to explore new models of inclusivity in this really messed up time.

And while much of the interactive engagement we do during the day will be for everyone to work on together, the summit will ground these exercises in caucusing, to enable BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) LGBTQ and white LGBTQ participants to engage in this work within affinity groups. Songwriter/musician Rogiérs Fibby and Burkholder will both facilitate workshops.

We also recognize that this work can’t happen in a day or through events alone—nor would we expect it to. Therefore, this year we’re continuing the conversation and strengthening the community we’ve been building. The day will kick-off with a discussion between some of last year’s speakers about how we sustain this work. Debbie Goddard, Lucky Garcia, and Verdell Anthony Wright will talk about what the last year has looked like and how the movement can push forward.

New to the conversation this year are Ginger Campbell, who will discuss the unique needs of LGBTQ nontheist elders, and Anthony Cruz Pantejos, a member of the Latinx Humanist Alliance who will explore what nontheist communities can learn from those outside institutional affiliation who claim to be “spiritual but not religious.”

Last but not least, Alison Gill will speak about American Atheists’ secular survey findings as they relate to the LGBTQ community.

So, LGBTQ humanists, freethinkers, and nontheists—if this is your first time hearing about Centering the Margins, please consider this your formal invitation to join us on Saturday for community and conversation.

There will be fun surprises throughout the day, but I don’t want to “give away” anything (wink).

Thanks in part to our sponsors, registration is free, and the event will kick off at 12:00 pm ET this Saturday, October 17, and conclude at 6:00 pm ET. We hope to see you there!

A note to cisgender heterosexual allies and accomplices: In order to bring a meaningful event to our community, we ask that allies and accomplices refrain from registering and instead watch the summit when it is published online in the coming weeks, which will help us create a community-centered space.