The Collegian
Monday, June 05, 2023

First Q-Summit joins southern youth in queer activism

The first Q-Summit to be held at University of Richmond was a roaring success, and joined over 100 southern youth and queer activists to strategize the future of the LGTBQ movement, according to Wesley Meredith, co-president for Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity.

Q-Summit was held on campus March 22, and the scheduled events lasted all day: breakout sessions on narrowed topics in the morning and afternoon; a keynote address from Loan Tr\0x1EA7n, a mixed-race queer storyteller and aspiring educator after lunch; and a Q-Summit After Dark Dance Party at night. The event was defined as "a gathering of queer youth (18-25) leaders across the south for a day of movement-building, skill-sharing, and best-practices development," according to the event's page on Common Ground's university website.

Approximately 130 queer, southern youth came to the event from a variety of Virginia and regional schools, said Erik Lampmann, a senior and one of the students involved in the organization of Q-Summit. Students from as far away as Houston, Texas, and as close as Virginia Commonwealth University and Randolph-Macon College were in attendance.

"[I]t was incredibly heartening for me to see so many queer and gender non-conforming youth affirm our efforts at transformative change here on campus," Lampmann wrote in an email. "I'm proud that they'll go back to their institutions with the image of UR as an inclusive, intentional and innovative campus."

One of the main goals of Q-Summit was to center the voices of transgender youth, said Gina Cruz, a senior who served as a volunteer coordinator and intern for Q-Summit. This included an all-gender bathroom on the third floor of the Tyler Haynes Commons, where the breakout sessions were held. Bathroom access is a big issue for those who identify as transgender, and it is a privilege often overlooked by cisgender people, Cruz said. At Q-Summit, each participant also wore a nametag that denoted the person's name, school affiliation and which pronouns to use when addressing the participant, including "he," "she," "they," or other acceptable pronouns.

The breakout session topics for the event ranged from "Legitimizing the Other: Are You Gay Enough?" to "Queerness and Christianity" and "Grasping at the Roots of Our Future: Women and People of Color and the Path to Reproductive Justice."

Four sessions were led by Richmond students, including "Wide Pride Caucus: Activists of Size Unite!" led by Cruz.

"I wanted to spark conversations on a topic that often isn't talked about," Cruz wrote in an email. "In my experience, fat activism has more of presence online than anywhere else and if you don't know where to look you may miss the movement altogether."

Cruz said she felt the session went well and the attendees were all interested in the concept of fat acceptance, though it was a small group.

"I can't begin to explain the feeling of safeness that comes with being in a room where you know you can fully be yourself and take off your armor," Cruz said.

Q-Summit also had a presence on social media as attendees were invited to use the hashtag "#URqSummit" to chronicle the day's events on Twitter. During the day there were screens projecting the tweets with the hashtag, Meredith said. The social media response on Twitter to Loan Tr\0x1EA7n's keynote address was positive and Amanda Lineberry, a senior, tweeted, "Haven't felt southern pride like this in a long time."

Q-Summit was a partnership between the University of Richmond's Office of Common Ground, the university's Q-Community, SASD, Southerners on New Ground and Richmond Organization for Sexual Minority Youth.

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