Sunday, November 30, 2014

I can breathe in a small town

So about that fundraiser last Saturday.

It was for Green Mountain Crossroads, which is an organization I love and support, and which organization has also given me so much. And I am bad at asking for money, and did it poorly the other night, but I'm going to do it poorly here, too, because it matters to me, a lot. One thing that made it easier the other night was that I was talking to such a great and mixed group: rural queers, GMC volunteers, beloved allies. Oh, hey. That's a group not unlike you people.

Even before he started the "It Gets Better" project, sex advice columnist Dan Savage talked a lot to young LGBTQ people about how their lives would be better once they got old enough to leave their small towns and go to a city where they'd find more people like them. For some people, that is no doubt good and even life-saving advice.

But: I tried that.

I moved to a city in my 20s for many reasons, in part to find more queers. And... I didn't succeed. I found a handful of wonderful gay men, and eventually I found a closeted girlfriend. As much as I love (in some cases, still do love) that tiny handful of people, they weren't a big community of queers. They were great friends, but they weren't a wider circle of friends and acquaintances. Those individuals had my back and helped make my life fun and richer, but they weren't a network of support.

Those things, I found (eventually) when I moved back to a rural place, thanks in no small part to Green Mountain Crossroads and its predecessor organization.

That is what GMC does: It supports and uplifts rural queers. Some of that is community-building, in dances and social events. Some of that is support-type support, in a confidential queer-and-questioning youth group and a monthly trans pot luck and discussion and a local group for LGBTQ people with disabilities. Some of that is political organizing and leadership training and consulting with businesses and healthcare providers who want to be more queer-friendly*.

GMC is doing all that with the help of some dedicated volunteers and one part-time employee. We want to do even more.

Day 17 of our month of gratitude: I am so, so thankful for the work of Green Mountain Crossroads and other organizations like it, and I am very thankful for the folks who've supported GMC's current fundraising push. Want to be one of those people? The donate button's here. Small monthly gifts make even more of a difference, and you can set that up online, too.

*Helpful hint: If your business has bathrooms, and if they are single-person bathrooms, and if they currently have gendered signs on the doors, take those signs off, for starters. It just makes everyone's life easier and involves literally no commitment to the cause.