Friday, July 13, 2018

My Visit To Camp Brave Trails - The LGBTQ Teen Leadership Summer Camp I Wish I Could Have Gone To When I Was A Teen!

What an experience!

Deep in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles, at a summer campgrounds, in a dusty community hall next to a small stream. With rainbow flags, and unicorns, and visible symbols of pride everywhere I turned...

The 60 campers gathered, along with many of their counselors, and I got to tell the story-behind-the-story of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill!"

This was so
amazingly important

and wonderful

The teens were so focused, and appreciative, and snapped their agreement at a number of things I shared, and applauded so heartily after I read them a section of the book—the section where I gave Wyatt the same goosebump moment I had, of realizing that maybe Abraham Lincoln was in love with another guy.

I answered questions, and then my time was over, and they dove into their social activism projects.  I hung out, had dinner with them afterwards and all in all spoke with maybe twenty of the young people. I signed their ARC copies of my book, I signed their journals, I even signed one of my bookmarks! (I had bookmarks to give away, too!)

One handed me my first piece of teen fan art! (Click here to see it.)

Nice things the teens said to me about "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" that I quick-jotted down afterwards so I wouldn't forget:

"I read it in 24 hours. It was good!"

Said while holding my book in their hands: "Thank you. I grew up without seeing any queer representation in media, so it means a lot." 

"I read it and really liked it."

"Thank you so much. This means so much to me."

They asked more questions, shared about their own writing, and overall gave me so much hope. We did this—our community came together to fund giving these young people each a copy of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" as part of a vision to empower them... and we did!

It was a huge moment, and I'm so grateful. My thanks to Jess and Kayla for indeed being BRAVE and putting forth Camp Brave Trails as my non-profit partner in getting 810 donated copies of my book into the hands of LGBTQ and Allied teens!

And if you are—or know—an LGBTQ teen, check out Camp Brave Trails. There are still a handful of spots left in some of their summer sessions, and the environment of being marinated in so much love and acceptance with a group of LGBTQ peers seems absolutely wonderful and transformative.

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