Members of the local LGBT health community gathered Nov. 10 to start planning the hosting of an upcoming health conference in Chicago.
This summer, Chicago will host the 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit in conjunction with the BiHealth Summit. The conference, themed "Health Through the Life Course," will take place Aug. 14-18 at Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan.
According to organizers, the annual health summit differs from traditional health conferences. One of the key differences is that the National LGBTI Health Summit is organized by a wide variety of individuals, from those working directly in LGBT health to those with little or no health experience. Organizers encourage anyone interested in becoming involved in the planning process to do so.
That is not the only way this summit differs. At the recent community planning meeting, organizers said that during the conference there will be activities for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their level of health experience. In addition, there will not be a focus on celebrities or big names, and there will be a focus on allotting time for those involved to mix and mingle outside of workshops and other programming.
"It's really a great way to engage everyone in a national movement," said co-chair Jim Pickett. "It's a way to bring the local to the national, and bring the local community together."
The National LGBTI Health Summit is "dedicated to preserving, improving the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual and environmental health and wellness of LGBTI people." The first one took place in Colorado in 2002. Previous ones have been held in Philadelphia and Cambridge. Each year, people from a wide variety of backgrounds health, activists, grassroots organizers, spiritual leaders, those living with HIV/AIDS, writers and others attend the summit and help organize it.
The conference will be held in conjunction with the BiHealth Summit, which will take place Aug. 14, 2009. This event will concentrate on bisexual health, but organizers said that bisexual health will also have a broader presence within the National LGBTI Health Summit.
The event's fiscal agent will be Howard Brown Health Center. Organizational partners include, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Center on Halsted, Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Howard Brown Health Center and Test Positive Aware Network.
Organizers are excited to bring the health summit to Chicago during the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. "We'll be really capitalizing on that," Pickett said. "This is not just any year."
The first large planning meeting will take place in January. For more information on how to become involved, e-mail co-chairs Cat Jefcoat or Jim Pickett at CatJ@howardbrown.org and JPickett@aidschicago.org .