Amid the rain and humid whether a solitary figure walked, paced back and forth while waiting for a ride. While this figure walked he listened to death metal and tired his best to pass the time. An onlooker might think what this person was doing all by himself loitering around a Best Western Inn, others might disregard him as a weirdo. But not me, why? Because that figure was me!
Such a situation is not an uncommon occurrence for many young grassroots activists. Deprived of means of transportation such people will do anything to snare a ride, especially if it is to such a highly anticipated event such as the Maine Queer Trans Youth Summit.
Fancying myself a reporter I undergo such experiences routine but it was always good to not spend too much time in the wild; needless to say I was relieved when my ride came and we were on our way towards the Summit. The van ride was filled with about half-a-dozen other college students all of whom were eager to arrive at one of the few events in the year where Queer youth such as themselves weren’t ostracized.
Arriving at the Lewiston-Auburn college of Southern Maine everyone signed in before taking their seats in a wide chamber clearly designed for convergences such as these. The speaker talked of life beyond equality and how one day complete equality would be ours if we decided to fight for it. Yet arriving late as my group did most of the opening presentation was lost to us.
Such proved not to be a problem; however, as afterwards the great mass of young people dispersed to attend their chosen workshop. With so many great workshops on the agenda missing out on some of the commencement speech proved little more than numbing. The workshops were many and great and I had a great difficulty in choosing which one to first attend.
Ultimately, though, I decided on the shop on cyber-bulling hosted by Kay Stephen (Author of Cyber-Slammed). During this workshop we were given a quick run-down on what constitutes cyber-bullying, the different kinds of cyber-bullying, and the six primary methods bullies along with some simple counter-measures one could enacted to protect one’s identity. The workshop proved to be enlightening and something which would be of value to my own efforts to prevent cyber-bullying.
Following the end of the first workshop was a brief lunch break where attendees could feast on the myriad assortment of meals and drinks. Cruising along the hallways one could pick up a veritable array of free loot at the numerous tables.
Moving past the lunch break was a period of safe-sex and HIV prevention lectures and games. Attending a group which played a AIDS prevention version of Jeopardy, and being accused of witchcraft for our winning knowledge, it was among the funniest amusements of the day; fun disguised as learning could not be a better combination for the young persons in attendance.
Post-HIV prevention games marched the second series of workshops. Once again my brain was wacked by which one to attend by after some mild mental gymnastics decided on “How to Support and Start a GSTA.” The speakers were from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (G.L.S.E.N). Our hosts proved to be knowledgeable activists and officiated on each attendee’s needs (which proved to be diverse as among the youth who joined each had a different situation). I gave some vital contact information which I hoped would be worthy for future efforts and went on my merry way.
But alas with the end of the second series of workshops also came the end of the day.
Shuffling back to the chamber where everyone met at the beginning of the day we listened to a powerful speaker bellow about the history of struggle the Queer community endured and fought and advocated. His words were only matched by his passion and by the end of the speech he, a professor at the college, received a standing ovation and several thanks for his energy.
So ended the gathering everyone has been excited for. While you would have had to truly be there to experience it in its fullest form such were the details in rough. People from all over the state came, friends were made and relationships of struggle born. Until the next year no one would know what would come of everyone’s interactions but anyone, on the other hand, would know that judging from the enthusiasm, the results would be grand.