UNO hosts largest LGBTQ+ conference in the Midwest, counter-protests WBC



Cassie Wade

The University of Nebraska at Omaha hosted MBLGTACC, the largest LGBTQ+ conference in the Midwest, over the weekend.

MBLGTACC stands for Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference. This year marked the first time in the conference’s 26-year history that it was held in Nebraska, Peyton Wells, one of the conference’s three co-chairs, said.

The theme for this year’s conference was “All Roads Lead to Intersectionality.” Wells said the finalized number of those in attendance wouldn’t be available until after the conference because on-site registration was available. An average of 2,000 people have attended in the past.

“For me, this conference will be successful if people are having a really good time and feel like they learned something afterward,” Wells said. “I’m excited to see people’s feedback after the conference, both what they enjoyed and what future MBLGTACCs can work on.”

UNO received the opportunity to host the event after bidding for the chance at the 2016 conference. Junior Matthew Dooley, one of the conference’s three co-chairs, said having the event happen after two years of planning was “super surreal.”

“It’s been almost like an out of body experience looking at how amazing it’s coming together,” Dooley said.

Dooley said seeing the attendees experience the conference is what he was most looking forward to.

“It’s one thing to have the abstract idea that you’re doing this for members of your community,” he said. “It’s another thing to see it actually start to happen.”

UNO sociology major Kana said they were most excited for the conference’s workshops and socials. Kana also said the conference gives students the chance to meet people from other universities and states.

“Being here at UNO, it kind of feels like a bubble,” Kana said. “We have a lot of cool things compared to other Midwestern universities, but it’s also cool to get perspectives from other people and network with them.”

Westboro Baptist Church, recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, traveled to Omaha to protest the conference. Attendees of the event as well as other supporters from the Omaha area came together on Saturday to counterprotest Westboro.

“I stand against hate no matter who the marginalized group is, and my daughter who’s here, she really stands up for the LGBTQIA community,” counter-protest attendee Michelle Lamere said. “People are people and nobody is in a position to judge another human being.”