A Letter Regarding Conference and Hotel Pricing: Q Executive Director, Bukola Landis-Aina

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Dear Q Christian family,

I want to affirm the concerns that have been raised regarding 2020 conference pricing. Frankly speaking, I agree that anything that prohibits access to conference is a mistake.

As I step into this new role as Executive Director, having served as a board member for 4 years and then as a member of the executive leadership team since last fall, I am still yet fully adjusting to the responsibility that has been carefully entrusted with me.  I care so much for this community and everything that this organization has meant to me along my own journey of finding self acceptance and belonging. I know that so many of you have also been turned away from spaces that were considered home in the past. My heart breaks to learn that many receive this conference selection as being turned away once again.  

Honestly, my first instinct is to defend the decision that we made to select a conference location on the beach in Ft Lauderdale.  But I now realize that we did not fully appreciate how difficult it would be to mitigate the challenges to event access and participation that the hotel/conference pricing poses.  The many flights to Florida through the multiple international airports and the driveability from much of the South and East coast of the United States were the focus of our assessment regarding geographical access to conference, given that the conference has not been held in the Southeast since 2012.  

At the time of selection, the executive team expected that about half of conference attendees would obtain off-site lodging and intended to address the issue for those rooming on-site by budgeting for a deeply subsidized rate for all. Unfortunately, due to financial shortages in fundraising and summer retreat attendance, the organization is not currently in a position to offer deep subsidies to all attendees as originally planned.

So what can we do for this year?  In addition to providing scholarships for 2020 and providing a free livestream, we are able to offer to book at the $249 Q-subsidized hotel rate, and we are able to book these without taxes or fees so that the total price for Jan 2-5 is $747.  Q Christian encourages anyone who needs this subsidy to book here. Also, an unsubsidized option that avoids taxes and fees is available here.

Ultimately, we are already committed to event locations and pricing through 2022 but for future conference location selection, I am committed to ensuring that this does not happen again. I will work with our advisory boards to introduce transparency reforms around organization event location selections in 2023 and beyond.  We will aim to add the voice and vote of financially-disadvantaged community members at the table. I will work with our advisory board members and affinity/age group leaders to develop reformed event selection procedures in January 2020.

Please know that my commitment to this organization is not a mere job for me.  There is nothing corporate-minded about my dedication to this work. My wife and I have donated back my entire salary and more since I have come on staff. That’s how much this labor of love for my chosen family matters to me; this labor of love which lately has been a fierce fight for the life of this organization and to keep this family together.   

The work of Q Christian goes beyond the conference. Every day, we leverage our global platform of around 35,000 community members to explode harmful myths like the “dangers of a gay lifestyle,” and spread messages of hope and love for the LGBTQ community worldwide.

Proclaiming God’s love and affirmation of LGBTQ+ identity, we recently launched the UNCHANGED Movement, a affirmative and needed counter to the damage wrought in the name of God by the recent resurgence of ex-gay theologies behind the #Changed #Oncegay Movement.  Through countless shares of our content, our message spreads well beyond our enclave of affirming community. In less than a week, #UNCHANGEDLGBTQ received over 128,000 social media impressions, over 5,400 website visitors from 68 countries and at least 18 additional story submissions, reminding us just how important this work is to the LGBTQ+ community and faith communities across the globe.

There’s still so much work to do, and we need our friends and chosen family -- like you — to continue supporting us.

A lot has changed since my first conference, but one important thing hasn’t: QCF Conference is still a place where we show up for our chosen family.  Even if you show up disappointed and upset, your authentic self is wholly, unequivocally welcome at this family reunion we call the Q Christian Conference.

I hope to see you in Ft Lauderdale.