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To: Governor Scott,
Cc: Vermont State Legislature, local Selectboards
As Vermonters, we are now in a global crisis along with the rest of the planet. We thank the State and local governments that have already taken some swift action to create protections during this time. As voices from the LGBTQ, Black, POC, disabled, working class, and immigrant communities, we know COVID-19 impacts our communities disproportionately.
As a community we are being asked to self-distance and quarantine in order to save lives and bring about the end of this crisis more quickly. We know every person within our community is impacted by COVID-19, from work stoppages to sickness, to increased fear, anxiety, and isolation, and that most Vermonters want to do their part for the greater good. We also know that in order to fully engage in adequate self-distancing efforts people need safe housing, economic resources, access to health care, and critical protective equipment. We hope you will act to help keep everyone in our communities safe and able to weather this storm.
There is an ongoing obligation to continue implementing steps that will keep all people in Vermont safe during this COVID-19 crisis. We believe these actions will support the health and wellbeing of all members of our community and urge you to put them in place:
Out in the Open
The Root Social Justice Center
Lost River Racial Justice
Vermont Workers Center
Pride Center of Vermont
Dearest Out in the Open Community,
For so many of us, the world is a totally different place than it was when I last wrote you all almost four weeks ago. For so many of us, this present reality is not so different from the one we were living in February. With the veil having been pulled back to reveal even more clearly the lack of justice, equity, and access to power and resources so many of us have been screaming about for far too long. It has been a painful few weeks. And as my therapist so wonderfully reflects when I come to her saying "I am not sure I can handle this (whatever the "this" is at that present moment). She says, "You are handling it. This is part of you handling it." We are collectively handling this time even when the supports we were told existed have fallen flat and we're collectively and individually left searching for a solution.
When I last wrote you all, I was feeling a lot of grief. I am still having many periods of grieving right now but the prevailing things I'm experiencing presently are a strong desire to stand together, support each other, and love each other through this struggle and beyond the next one. It's what we as LGBTQ folks have always done and what we as rural people have always done.
It's why Out in the Open continues building community and support structures outside of the State even through the best times. So that we're already here for each other in the worst. Because in times like these, we need each other. And while we've witnessed and participated in an incredible ability for webs of support and mutual aid to spring up so quickly right now, having existing trust and relationships with folks helps immensely and allow us to come together more quickly in times like this, when we need to. The only way through this is through this together.
And I promised you all an update on or around April 6! So, with all of this in mind, we will be continuing to balance both holding community close and keeping shared public health at the forefront. Some updates:
With solidarity and love,
HB & Out in the Open
We are here to support our rural LGBTQ community in this time and always. We are working continuously to make virtual space for our community to connect and support each other. Our recurring group spaces have moved to meeting virtually. If you would like to attend - please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our calendar which is being updated regularly.