Dear Out in the Open community,
We know that everyone is talking about voting right now. Because we’re rural queer & trans people invested heavily in our collective liberation, here’s how we’re thinking about voting in U.S. elections these days. (If you’ve been with us for a while, you know we love a metaphor!) It’s like weeding in our gardens and fields. We need to be able to see the hornworms through the hogweed. And in order to do that we’ve got to clear the way.
We know that all those harmful hornworms are going to continue creating some devastation, defoliation, and munching away on our sweet sweet tomatoes all along the way— regardless of if we keep up with our weeding or not! And we can’t even see them if all the hogweed and lamb’s quarters are up to our eyebrows. Let’s pull these weeds out at their roots and then get to work disposing of all those sneaky hornworms (or potato beetles, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, corn earworms, etc. the pests are many!) once we can find them.
Is our weeding going to fix centuries of soil destruction and nutrient depletion? No. Is it going to fix decades of dismantling our collective ability to save seeds and replant as a result of GMO-laced seed? Certainly not. And also, voting is a thing we can do, right now, to make the conditions of growing easier. If we’re not dealing with weed pressure, the whole field is healthier.
We are up against it right now, y’all. Impending/present authoritarianism and fascism. Threats of no longer sending federal funds to Seattle, Portland, and NYC. People detained in ICE custody literally losing their bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. The looming end of reproductive rights for people with uteruses. On-going and rampant direct violence against Black people throughout the country. The likely rollback of many protections & rights won over the last several decades, fueled by mass movements and cemented legally by the Supreme Court. The on-going loss of hundreds of thousands more of our friends, family members, loved ones, neighbors, and our own lives to COVID-19. It is a lot.
So, join us in voting this November. In many communities across the country, including Vermont, mail-in and early voting has already started. If you are voting in Vermont, the date to mail ballots back has passed. Choose another method for returning your ballot! Think of November 3rd as your last opportunity to vote in this election, not your first. Check your registration and if you live in Vermont (like us!), the status of your ballot here. If you want to organize around defending democracy, there is a large list of resources compiled by Training for Change here. Our rural LGBTQ voices and our values matter.
And of course, continue joining us in the many ways of building rural LGBTQ community, visibility, knowledge, and power. Regardless of what happens this month or in a few months, we’ll be here with you working hard to move all of us closer to collective liberation for all people.
HB & Out in the Open
Dear Out in the Open community,
This time last year we were gathered at Green Mountain Camp in Dummerston, VT for the fifth annual Out in the Open Summit. We are really missing being together with you all right now! The theme of last year's gathering was Rest, Resilience, & Resistance, which we explored through things like: a group read of The Left Hand of Darkness; a day of queer & trans beekeeping down at They Keep Bees, a session on creating queer gym/workout spaces, a fall medicinal plant walk, many meals, late nights by the campfire with a bunch of rural LGBTQ folks, and by being together in the woods with all the magic that early fall can bring.
This October, as a staff, inspired in part by the 2019 Summit, by the always brilliant Nap Ministry, and by a number of groups we're connected to (namely Astraea Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy) who are doing something similar right now, we're taking an all-staff break from October 5-19th. After these past six months, this is needed time for us to rest and recuperate.
In the meantime, volunteer-run groups will continue as planned! And we'll be back refreshed and as always ready to go on the 19th.
Let us know if you have questions about what programming will continue over these next couple of weeks.
The time is always right to actively push back against white supremacy (and the hegemony of capitalism, and the crush of heteronormativity, and pandemic exhaustion, and...) this break is one way we're doing that. There are many others.
Onward towards collective liberation for all of us,
HB & Out in the Open
BLM Mural in front of Putney Central School, Putney VT. Painted 9/27. Photo by Justin Altman.
Here's some stuff to enjoy during this break:
We Feed Each Other: Rural LGBTQ Food Traditions Zine is now available!
A compilation of recipes, memories, and stories- connecting and fueling our rural LGBTQ communities.
Download your copy!
[image credit - Molly Costello]
SEPTEMBER CHALLENGE: Our friends at W.R. Metalarts have agreed to match all donations made to Out in the Open until we reach $2,500 or September ends-- whichever comes first.
Can you help us meet our Match? Click here!
Listen to our newest Radio Hour episode to be in conversation with Out in the Open staff, HB, Ain, and Eva! Hear about what politicized them, what they love about being rural queer folks, and a joke or two!
Get it wherever you listen to podcasts, on our website, and Mondays 2-3PM on WVEW 107.7FM in Brattleboro. All episodes can be found here: https://bit.ly/2FG7fw9
Dear Out in the Open community,
We know you don’t need an email from us to tell you how hard things have been lately. We’re coping with life during a pandemic that hasn’t resolved. Many of us are struggling with isolation, the oppressions of white supremacy, systemic racism and State brutality, housing and food insecurity, trans-and homophobic social media messages, seemingly impossible parenting decisions, seasonal and hormonal challenges, and more.
While honoring the realness of the struggle, we want to take a moment to express deep gratitude for each of you, and for the strength, wisdom and generosity of our communities. As rural LGBTQ folks, we inherit a tradition of radical people making radical change. We continue honoring their legacies while building toward our collective liberation through this movement moment and beyond. As HB told us back in April, “The only way through this, is through this together.” We’ve been doing it, folks! And we’re not stopping now.
This month, we’re celebrating our community successes, expressing our love and appreciation, and inviting you to keep collaborating for all that's still on the horizon.
Mutual Aid Fund Success!Wow. Over the past two months, you donated, requested funds, boosted the signal and made it happen! Through our QTBIPOC/LGBTQ+ Mutual Aid Fund we have been able to redistribute $19,614 to our community members in so-called Southern Vermont, Southwestern NH, and rural New England. All of the money received from your donations to the Mutual Aid Fund were distributed to QTBIPOC/LGBTQ folks who were financially impacted by COVID-19. We have paused requests for funding for the time being while we replenish the fund and review our capacity to continue administering the Fund.
Our beloved monthly sustainers and Movement Building Fund supporters also contributed to this success -- your contributions allowed us to make up the difference- ensuring that everyone who requested funds received funds.
Here are some numbers (mostly because Ain was excited to make an infographic for you!):
We also know that what we do together can't be measured in numbers. It’s messy and powerful. It’s emotional, individual, and collective. It looks like a slow burn—maybe even invisible to those outside our communities—until it erupts into protests and policy changes, art and song, love affairs and revolution.
We see, appreciate, and rely on folks sharing financial resources to fund our work and survival needs. At the same time, our work together is about so much more than money. We are deeply grateful for all of the ways our wonderful LGBTQ community engages with this work.
More great ways to engage this month:
Sign up for the Rural QTBIPOC Binder Give-A-Way! We are partnering with our friends at Shapeshifters to give away custom binders for our rural QTBIPOC community members nationwide. Entries will be chosen at random through the rest of the year.
Request a “back-to-school” care-package! This next round of care-packages is for rural LGBTQ parents and parents of LGBTQ youth (items to be sent are for 2-16~ year olds). There are a limited number available. Please request one, and we’ll do our best to send you one!
Get involved with the Rural Queer Community Care Network!
--> Join the care-network phone-tree
--> Ask for and offer material supports for folks in Southern VT.
--> Donate to the Rural QTBIPOC/LGBTQ+ Mutual Aid Fund
Send your submissions to our We Feed Each Other: Rural LGBTQ Food Traditions Zine! Food supports and nourishes our movements for social change. Share your rural LGBTQ food stories, memories and recipes!
Attend a virtual group or drop-in space! We may be physically away from each other right now, but there are many ways to stay connected to rural LGBTQ community at this time. Full calendar of ongoing offerings here.
Even while physically apart, know that we are here appreciating and holding space for one another.
Let’s keep going in the spirit of mutual aid.
Ask for what you need.
Share what you have.
And keep organizing together for our collective liberation.
With solidarity and gratitude,
HB & Out in the Open
Dear Out in the Open community and rural LGBTQ folks everywhere,
Since 2015, mid-Summer has traditionally been the time when we’re opening registration for our annual Out in the Open Summit for Rural & Small Town LGBTQ Folks, getting workshops lined up, planning menus, and having retreats as a Summit planning team. For each of these past years, The Summit has been a gathering place to collectively discuss and explore our rural and small town experiences as LGBTQ people.
At the end of 2019, we started expanding the Summit in some exciting ways that we’ve been thinking about for years. We have been working with folks in Maine on bringing the Summit there this year in addition to in our home here in Southern Vermont. And we are in conversation with friends and collaborators in Kentucky about some cross-regional collaborations as well.
Due to the Pandemic, our Summit planning has taken a turn inwards, temporarily. We are entering a Summit Year of Cover Cropping and will be building and deepening our relationships with folks in Maine and Kentucky over the next 12-18 months (and beyond) working towards even more expansive and abundant gatherings in 2021 or 2022.
In a time when, as rural LGBTQ folks, we may be experiencing even more acute isolation than before the Pandemic- we are deeply saddened that we won’t be hosting the Summit in-person this year. It has been meaningful in a transformative way to come together in community, to rest, to build, to dream, and to create with each other. As one long-time Summit attendee has said (paraphrasing here), The Summit has become like their queer family holiday: something to plan a year around, a place to re-connect with folks we may only see once a year, a place to share meals and laughs and much more.
We want to assure you that the Summit isn't going away, we're just working differently in this time in order to give our community a deeper and more powerful experience a bit down the road. In other words: we are letting our already strong roots grow deep; we are letting our proverbial fields rest while also adding needed nutrients by growing relationships, collaborations across geography, and Summit ideas; we are building our soil over this next year so that when we come back to plant and harvest in 2021 (or whenever the pandemic next allows), our Summits will be even more powerful and full that before. We believe that as a result of this deep time a bumper crop of Summits are coming our way in the near future!
In addition to all the things you see below, we’re working on some Summit-like virtual & analog opportunities for later in the Fall. We’re thinking about way to explore the same kind of political education and what we’ve come to call ‘rural living skills’ that we have at a typical Summit but in pandemic-proof ways (it won’t be all zoooooms, we promise!). As always, if you have thoughts/topics/projects/etc. that you think we should be building around, let us know.
Rest assured, Out in the Open is staying put, and so is our work with our rural LGBTQ community.
Some of the ways you can engage right now are:
We are building and creating for the long-haul— holding our values of queer joy, anti-racism, resistance, and connection. Although we won’t be physically in person this year, we are building strong, lasting connections in our rural LGBTQ communities this year and every year.
Much love for all that has been and all that is yet to come,