By Natalie Slieter

Dakotas’ Equality Summit is not just for the LGBT community; it’s also for allies.

Leslie Jordan is the featured speaker for the Sioux Falls event that will be held September 9-10 at the downtown Holiday Inn. He’s an Emmy-award winning actor who’s known for his roles in Will and Grace, The Help, and American Horror Story. Jordan will perform his comedy act for attendees on Friday night at 8 p.m. followed by a meet and greet.

Conference chair for the Dakotas’ Equality Summit is Billy Mawhiney. He served on the board of the Center for Equality in Sioux Falls for several years. He says the goal of this year’s summit is for the audience to understand their stories matter and to connect the community through these stories.

“The idea is people are going to be talking about their personal stories and we’re going to be learning from these,” explained Mawhiney. “We have personal stories and then we have professionals who talk about that.”

On Saturday, attendees will get to hear from a mother who lost her son to suicide and the emotions that came with that loss. Someone will then speak about suicide prevention following this talk.

“We know what the struggles are internally and individually,” said Mawhiney. “This gives us that opportunity to build strength in numbers. Other people are fighting similar battles and similar struggles.”

Attendees will get to hear from several featured speakers on Saturday: Jeff Walker, a man living with HIV; Brett Ray, a trans author; Mara Kiesling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality; and finally Annie Lloyd, a community organizer and founder of Rapid City-based Buffalo Gals. All of these speakers will share their unique stories and the strides they have made as part of the LGBT community.

Read the full article in the September issue, or click here

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