June is usually a busy time for Queen City Pride. The Manchester based LGBTQ organization has always held annual Pride Month celebrations, but Pride celebrations had to be moved online this year. Three Queen City Pride organizers, Elliot Wood, Birdie de Bruyn and Richella Simard want LGBTQ+ New Hampshire residents to still feel supported, so they are launching Queer 101 - an online weekly educational series on how to be a better ally and advocate for the queer community.
Elliot Wood joined NHPR’s All Things Considered Host Peter Biello to talk about the project.
(Below is a lightly edited transcript of the interview.)
So what was it like to not have an in-person Pride this year?
It was it was hard at times for a lot of people, I think. But even though it was a little discouraging in that many of the events in New England were canceled, we were still able to hold a lot of them online. But we all recognize that Pride is something we can celebrate year round, whether that is in-person or online. You can still be proud and celebrate your queer identity.
So tell us about this pandemic and what it's like. Is this pandemic a particularly hard time for the LGBTQ+ community? And if so, how?
Yes, it is definitely difficult. So New Hampshire, as a more rural state, it is tricky to gather the queer community together, even not in the midst of a pandemic. So not being able to hold events in person and make those face-to-face connections made us really rely heavily on Zoom and the Internet, and ways that we can have events online and still celebrate Pride and everything that goes along with that. And that's part of why we wanted to start more programs where people can be involved no matter where they are in the state.
So tell us a little more about Queer 101. Where did this idea come from?
We wanted to have a reoccurring event weekly where people had an opportunity to have access to more educational materials. So we created Queer 101 where participants can learn a wide variety of information focusing on LGBTQIA topics. And every Tuesday we will pick a new topic to discuss, like how to be a stronger ally to the queer community, pronoun do's and don'ts, resources for queer folks that live in New Hampshire, vocabulary, history, and so much more than that.
And is this program designed for queer people themselves? Is it more for straight people who want to be better allies? Who's the primary audience for this?
So our goal is to provide information that can be beneficial to both allies -- it is an ongoing process. People have to recognize that there are always more ways to learn. And a crucial piece to being a strong ally is staying actively engaged to help create a safer environment for LGBTQ people. But we also recognize that it can be difficult for queer Granite Staters to access resources that are relevant to New Hampshire and local to where they live. And we wanted to alleviate some of the struggling, finding that by creating a page where that information will stay up continuously and will always be available to people that are in need of more education or also resources for themselves.
So what do you hope people come out of a Queer 101 session feeling or thinking? What do you hope people get out of it?
We're hoping to just in general, increase the public's awareness to this variety of topics to create a deeper understanding through people's experiences and identities. So people can better open their hearts and their minds to our community, because queer education can be a blind spot to the public. So creating a space where that is the focus makes a really big impact.
To what extent does the LGBTQ+ community struggle with racial inclusion?
I think that the two are definitely closely connected. And that's why we're striving to have intersectional justice within the queer community for queer, trans, Black, Indigenous people of color because it speaks volumes to the adversities that queer and trans people of color face in life. And by acknowledging intersectionality, we at Queen City Pride hope to represent and spread awareness on the differences that members within our community face, not only as a queer person, but also as a queer person of color or a queer woman of color, and sharing how this affects our community and how these characteristics can be combined in a positive way to better create a more just space for queer trans people of color.
So what's the next step in your plans for Queer 101?
Today, we're featuring five ways to be a better ally. And so we have a bunch of information for people that aren't members specifically to the queer community, but want to better support it. And next week, we're focusing on queer trans people of color and shining a light on that. And just the basics. But then also the more in-depth education as well. And why it's really important to highlight that aspect to our queer community now.