The Queer and Allied Youth Summit 2022

The Queer and Allied Youth Summit 2022

Rachel Ledoux, Writer

On May 21, LGBTQ+ youth and their allies came together from across Vermont for a day of pride, allyship and activism. The Queer and Allied Youth Summit, as it was called, was put on by the Brattleboro Union High School Queer-Straight Alliance along with the support of Outright Vermont.

This event, which has been canceled for the past two years due to COVID, is an amalgamation of Outright’s work throughout the year from the Youth Organizer programs, to the GSA Conference to Leadership Day. It was a tradition that many queer youth look forward to throughout the year, and they were excited to see its return.

The day started early for me and many other attendants. Outright offered buses to bring kids to the conference from further areas of the state, such as St. Albans.  About 200 students attended the event.

The day-long summit featured a variety of events, designed to help youth and adults connect over issues that matter to them. It began with a welcome meeting, then attendants were able to split into small groups to discuss different identities, such as asexuality/aromanticism, racial identities, trans and non-binary genders and many more. There were two rounds of these small groups, one before and one after lunch.

After the second round of groups, attendants marched through the town, yelling chants and making themselves visible in the community. I sat this part out due to the extreme heat and instead hung out with a few others in the high school’s multi-purpose room offered to store belongings and cool off. There was a small free period then, where folks could run through sprinklers, play yard games or just sit and talk. Some participants held a karaoke and speak-out session, including a spirited rendition of “Let it Go.”

Then, after a macaroni and cheese dinner, came the focal point of the day: Outright’s Queer Prom. 

According to V Pearson, one of Outright’s staff members and coordinators for the Youth Organizer program, the prom, which was canceled along with the Summit the past two years, is a highlight for the program.

Attendants dressed in their finest, many according to the “Magical Fantasy” theme of the day. Outright offered free makeup items as well.

Prom was by far a favorite portion of the day, at least from what I observed. A variety of dessert items were offered, and attendants were able to make song requests. There was also a photographer present to take photos for whoever wanted them. I, for one, had a fantastic time and ate at least a dozen Rice Krispie treats.

After that, though, it was time to pack up and return home. All in all, the Brattleboro Summit lasted from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., not including the 4.5 hours it took for me to travel there and back. 

It was a day of fun, even with the overheating, and a great opportunity for queer youth to make friends and be who they are in a safe place.