From August 5-August 8, 2010, Kathleen Marsocci and I attended The National Gathering, an annual conference of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) to exchange knowledge and information on GSAs, at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. It was great to see Brown and Providence again since I grew up about 20 minutes north in Lincoln, RI. We also brought along a Raleigh Charter High School GSA Executive Board Member Christine as an attendee. In addition to attending the conference as North Carolina representatives from the LGBT Center of Raleigh, we also presented the program Leadership in 72 hours.
We were extremely happy to attend The National Gathering and bring back a lot of useful information to help the GSAs in Wake County and throughout North Carolina. We were also happy to find a national conference that dealt with LGBT youth issues in a way that wasn’t focused entirely on turning youth members into activists. While activism is important, far too often I have seen groups train people just to help the group meet its goals. If you start with helping an LGBTQA youth become a leader in general, they can then be a successful leader in any way they want.
In addition to attending sessions and presenting, we also visited the Youth Pride, Inc. of RI community center. The facility had a library, dozens of games, staff and medical offices, and other resources for LGBTQA youth of the area. Of course, I couldn’t resist going out to the car to get a few copies of Estate Planning for Domestic Partners to give the center’s library and to one of the center’s staff members who wanted to be an attorney focusing on providing marriage equivalent rights. Just in general, it was great to meet so many wonderful people who give so freely of their time to help youth that may otherwise have been ignored.