Rural and small town LGBTQ community comes together for two-day summit

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GUILFORD >> Fifty lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people are expected to arrive for the Open Summit for rural and small town LGBTQ folks this weekend, kicking off with a pot luck dinner at the Broad Brook Grange on Friday and finishing out with a day of hands-on activities on Sunday. Building on the success of last year's event, this is the second year for The Summit, organized by Green Mountain Crossroads, (GMC) Out in the Open — a Brattleboro-based organization connecting rural LGBTQ people to build community, visibility, knowledge, and power.

There is a common myth that LGBTQ people only live in cities and urban areas, GMC is out to bust that myth, and to provide support to LGBTQ people who are members of small town communities in rural areas where the feeling of isolation is common. GMC was organized to provide a better connection among LGBTQ people. The Summit is one means to provide that connection, serving as a vehicle to share experiences, resources and offer or receive advice. There is a real power in groups, in people talking, in an environment where there is no judgment.

HB Lozito, Executive Director of GMC said, "We at Green Mountain Crossroads are so excited for this year's Summit. As an LGBTQ person living rurally, I find that when I am at an LGBTQ conference, it is majority urban people. When I am at a rural conference, it is majority straight, cisgender people. Out in the Open is one of the few gatherings in the U.S. for LGBTQ people of a rural and/or small town experience to come together, meet each other, and talk about our shared experiences from both of those perspectives. This year, we are so pleased to be at the Broad Brook Grange in Guilford where we get to celebrate the place granges have held in rural history and community and also our amazing communities here in southern Vermont."

The first event is the pot luck dinner on Friday, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Broad Brook Grange on Guilford Center Road in Guilford, where registered participants may become acquainted in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. On Saturday, also at Broad Brook Grange, meet for coffee at 9 a.m., then on to conversations at 11 a.m. for a full day of thought-provoking ideas. Lozito said, "This is a participatory day with no presenters or "experts," rather we convene this gathering with the understanding that our daily experiences living, working, and organizing as rural and small town LGBTQ people make each of us an expert. We have selected a handful of topical conversations such as anti-racism in mostly white communities; food & farming; healthcare; and misogyny and patriarchy in LGBTQ communities that GMC will facilitate but it's up to the participants in those rooms to discuss and strategize about how each issue comes up in their lives and intersects with their LGBTQ identities."

New this year, organized by Sam Bonsevich, will be a public moth-style storytelling event at The Root Social Justice Center, 28 Williams St., Brattleboro on Saturday, featuring stories by and about rural and small town LGBTQ experiences from 7 to 9 p.m.

Also, new this year are a day of making and doing with workshops and outdoor activities on Sunday in response to feedback from last year's summit. Workshops in tofu making, poetry writing, literary writing, zine publishing, knitting, tincture and salve making, and bread baking; a plant walk in Guilford, and a hike led by the Venture Out Project (of Northampton, Mass.) are a few of the options for participants.

To register for the weekend events (required) and to see the schedule, visit greenmountaincrossroads.org/out-in-the-open.

The Summit presented by Green Mountain Crossroads (GMC), Out in the Open is open to any LGBTQ-identified person of rural and/or small town experience. There are a few remaining free tickets for those that would like to join but are unable to pay.

For more information about Green Mountain Crossroads visit greenmountaincrossroads.org

Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.


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