The University of Tennessee - Knoxville is set to expand its support of diversity with its first LGBTIQ conference on Saturday, Oct. 22.

OUTstanding is a free, one-day seminar exploring, celebrating, and building bridges around LGBTIQ issues. Anyone, including UT faculty, staff, and students as well as community members, local organizations, regional groups and other education institutions, are welcome to attend.

This inclusiveness is a crucial element in advancing equality issues, according to Steve Stothard, a UT-Knoxville graduate student and organizer for OUTstanding.

"Success to us means that everyone come away from OUTstanding with the tools, contacts, and hope necessary to keep fighting for equality and compassion," he says. "It's about strengthening our community and hopefully organizing an OUTstanding Seminar every year so we can also strengthen our collective voice for equality into the future."

Stothard acknowledges the assistance of campus resources such as the OUTreach LGBT & Ally Resource Center and the Commission in continuing dialogue about these issues. OUTstanding will serve as a rare opportunity to collect the area's advocates in a friendly setting.

"We're awed and inspired by the organizations and people who've been working in the community, on campus and in the region for years," Stothard says. "We just hope to support and add to the great projects and groups already here in East Tennessee.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Keith Boykin, editor of The Daily Voice online news site, a CNBC contributor, a BET TV host and a New York Times best-selling author. Other activities during the day will include a number of presentations and workshops centered around LGBT issues.

"We are looking forward to a wide variety of creative, inventive, and thought-provoking proposals from diverse individuals, organizations and groups on LGBTIQ Issues," Stothard says.

OUTstanding organizers encourage presentations with a balance regarding topics, formats, and audiences. For more information, visit

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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