University of Richmond hosts its second annual Q-Summit, a gathering of young queer activists, next Saturday, March 28th.
Joining forces with VCU’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program, SCOPE (Students Creating Opportunities, Pride, and Equality), SONG(Southerners on New Ground), and ROSMY, University of Richmond’s Common Ground office creates a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer-identified youth (ages 17-25) to come together and focus on skill-building, sharing stories, and motivating each other to make change.
Q-Summit will take place next Saturday, March 28th at UR’s Tyler Hanes Commons. Tanner Kerckhove, media and public relations manager for this year’s summit, emphasizes the regional aspect of the event, explaining that it “promotes collaborative discussion of topics that are directly relevant and unique to LGBTQ youth in the South. We are able to engage in dialogue that is guided by and meaningful to our peers.”
While conferences of this kind aren’t new to the LBGTQ community, they still aren’t prevalent in our area of the country. Says Kerckhove, “As far as I know, Q-Summit is one of the only if not the only gathering of queer youth in the South. Other conferences focusing on southern LGBTQ experiences exist, like Washington and Lee’s Equality Gala, but I believe we are the only conference that specifically centers the experiences of youth. Because of the involvement of ROSMY and SONG in our area, who are both partners of Q-Summit, I think Richmond is in the unique position of being able to refocus LGBTQ conversations.”
The organizers hold tight to the youth restrictions as well, with only speakers in the specified age range asked to speak. “Q-Summit is open to participants of all ages. However, attendees over the age of 25 are asked to respect the youth-run space and act in allyship with youth rather than centering their own experiences,” says Kerckhove.
Last year, UR’s Collegian reported that the first Q-Summit was a smashing success:
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.”
The day’s schedule is available online, and consists of breakout sessions, lunch, and a keynote address by Salem Acuña, an organizer for SONG. Expect much inspiration and confidence, as well as the opportunity to meet like-minded people and forge potentially lifelong friendships.
Q-Summit is free, but the organizers do ask that you register beforehand.
- Saturday, March 28th • 8:30 AM – 6:30 PM
- University of Richmond, Tyler Haynes Commons, 28 Westhampton Way