It's my favorite time of year...

It’s Pride Month, y’all! Yep, I was raised in southwest Virginia and I like to use the term y’all – especially during Pride month.  Because y’all means ALL, as my rainbow pin on my bag proudly proclaims. It is a fully inclusive way to address everyone, regardless of gender, affectional orientation, race, ethnicity, or any other intersections of the diverse identities that make us amazing humans.  

What do I love about Pride month? Well, for starters, it is a month devoted to raising awareness of current issues facing the LGBTQ+ communities. It’s a month dedicated to peaceful activism and conversation about ways we can continue removing societal barriers for ALL to live happy and fulfilling lives. It’s a time to celebrate LOVE in all forms.  

It’s also the one month out of the year that I get to spend a week at Diversity Camp with LGBTQ+ youth from all across the state of Virginia, and some surrounding states too! If you haven’t heard of Diversity Camp, it is a little piece of heaven in the mountains – far from cell reception – where queer and trans youth come together to spend a week outdoors in a traditional camp atmosphere. Imagine camp fires and s’mores, swimming and hiking, singing and dancing, art-making and games, and most importantly….imagine a caring, safe space for folks to come as they are and be embraced, accepted, and affirmed fully and whole-heartedly. This is Diversity Camp, y’all.

This year, I will be offering several workshops to middle schoolers and high schoolers. For the past few years, I have facilitated Qoya movement workshops to help youth connect to their bodies in a fun and affirming way. Qoya is a contemplative movement practice that provides a roadmap for slowing down to feel, connecting with our hearts, dancing our intentions into being, and exploring movement as metaphor for our lives. This year, I will also be leading drum circles for each age group. Drum circles facilitate community building, cooperation, connection, attunement, and a sense of belonging. Using a variety of percussion instruments, we will play with rhythmic expression and response. Both Qoya and drum circles reinforce an important message: there is no way you can do it wrong.

This year, if there is one message I wish for our youth to receive, it is the permission to be, feel, and express authentically who they are. I hope we can give ourselves the same permission, so that together we can make this world a more welcoming place for everyone.