Hurricane Sandy is starting to batter the eastern coast of the US, the worst storm in 20 years to hit the region, but Out & Equal’s LGBT Workplace Summit is still on.
The event in Baltimore is in the path of the storm which is whipping up strong winds and torrential rain.
Many delegates and some key speakers have been unable to travel to the city in Maryland with trains cancelled, airplanes grounded and warnings not to travel on many key roads.
Sandy has been dubbed a Halloween ‘Frankenstorm’ and is expected to hit up to 60million people, causing flooding and power outages.
But despite that, Out & Equal organizers estimate hundreds are already attending the preliminary day of the conference today (29 October). Today is mostly set aside for workshops and registration.
To keep people safe, organizers are cancelling this evening’s welcome party and tomorrow’s workshops. They hope to resume on Tuesday evening with a reception and to roll the rest of the day’s events into Wednesday and Thursday. Celebrity guest Joan Collins is now hoping to speak on Thursday.
Teddy Witherington of Out and Equal told Gay Star News: ‘A lot of our international guests would have come in earlier and were planning to come in earlier.
‘This is every event organizers’ nightmare but having said that we are no strangers as a community to putting on events under difficult circumstances.
‘What differentiates an event like Summit is, for us, this is a matter of utmost importance. When I gave a pep talk to the team yesterday I found myself saying if there had been a storm on the night on the Stonewall Riots they wouldn’t have gone home. We can’t put our movement on hold for a year because of bad weather.
‘Safety is our primary concern. We don’t want anyone to be at risk so we are in lockstep with the city authorities here to ensure we evaluate people’s safety on a continuous basis.’
Despite the weather, GSN is at the summit of which it is a media partner, monitoring developments.