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,