Iowa college group to debut gay conference

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 14 2002 12:00 AM ET

A University of Iowa gay student alliance plans to host the first Queer Iowa Student Conference next month in Iowa City, according to The Daily Iowan.

UI senior Cianan Russell, the cochairman of the conference, said many gay, lesbian, and bisexual groups across the state are unaware there are other such organizations. One goal for the October 19 event is to let those groups know they are not alone. "One of the greatest difficulties for a group or for someone when they first come out is the fear that they're alone," he said. "This will give us opportunity to give advice and share ideas."

Russell and conference organizer Jessica Brackett said they hope the conference will become an annual event. Both say the current Midwest conference, which this year is scheduled for Ohio, is held too far away and Iowa groups are not able to attend. If this conference is held yearly, it will give Iowa groups a way to connect and develop a community, Brackett said. This week the local organization will send 500 letters to high schools and colleges in all parts of the state to inform them about the conference. Brackett said she does not know how many people to expect, but she said the group will be satisfied to organize the convention.

"I'm really looking for an outstanding turnout," said conference organizer Liz Van Deusen. "I'll be happy whether we get 50 or 500."