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March 2010 Email this to a friend
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Leaders: retreat is not a secret

By Joseph Erbentraut

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When word leaked out that 45 of the country's leading gay activists had gathered to discuss the formation of an ACT UP-like organization, the gay blogosphere went wild.
With only scattered bits of information available, bloggers focused on Kip Williams and Robin McGehee, who quickly emerged as the co-organizers of what's being referred to as the Radical Minds Retreat.
In an attempt to squelch complaints that the retreat was secretive or elitist, Williams and McGehee, organizers of last fall"s National Equality March, released a statement following the invitation-only event outside Knoxville, Tennessee.
"We had one thing on our agenda: Discuss ways to build a national network of activists to demand full equality now," they wrote. "We want to be what Kate Bornstein described as 'an unpredictable outspoken force,' and we want everyone at the table."
Neither Williams nor McGehee responded to inquiries from Guide magazine. After numerous attempts to reach others who were there, a reporter finally spoke with Conrad Honicker, an 18-year-old activist from Knoxville.
Honicker said the gathering was "the most diverse group that I've ever been around." He said those at the meeting included both seasoned and young activists.
When asked if retreat participants had been instructed not to speak to media about the retreat, Honicker said: "We were asked to be sensitive that some people might not want their name attached or feel comfortable being quoted without their consent. If we were "primed," it was from a place of respect for the individuals in that room."
Activists met again at an open workshop, presented by McGehee and Williams, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change conference. Honicker described it "somewhat as branching out to the wider community around the ideas of radical inclusiveness and civil disobedience within the LGBT movement."

Author Profile:  Joseph Erbentraut

Joseph Erbentraut is a Wisconsin-born freelance writer and editor currently living in Chicago. His articles on politics, music and culture have been featured in the Village Voice and other publications. He also blogs at Chicagoist.


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