CAMPING WITH THE QUEERS
Okay, so maybe the title and header are a little misleading. It was four days. And we stayed in cabins, so I guess it doesn't *really* count as camping, but the prevailing idea remains, and I think it's really important to write about it and talk about it.
As a queer person, and specifically as a queer Christian who grew up in a lot of conservative Christian circles, I went into this four day glamping trip with exclusively other queer people with an odd mix of sheer excitement, trepidation, and wonder. I mean, when you really think about it (and when I would tell people about what my plans for the end of July were), it does sound a little crazy doesn't it?
I was about to fly from Minneapolis to Nashville to go to "queer summer camp," as we had all collectively dubbed it, with about 15 other queer people that I had only otherwise met on the internet, specifically from Twitter. Sure, many of us had interacted extensively online before and many more of us had FaceTimed each other or otherwise gotten the chance to spend time together virtually, but this four day trip was going to be the first time that many of us would be meeting each other in person. And for me, it was going to be the first time I would be meeting any of these people in person.
So, needless to say, some of friends asked the normal questions. Are you nervous? How do you think it's going to go? Do you think you'll get along with them in real life? And of course, are you sure this is safe?
Oddly enough, my most certain answer was to the final question.
I WAS ABOUT TO FLY FROM MINNEAPOLIS TO NASHVILLE TO GO TO QUEER CAMP WITH ABOUT 15 PEOPLE I'D ONLY EVER MET ON TWITTER
And of course it was safe, on many more levels than one. I'd written previously on how the queer community on Twitter has been nothing short of a miracle, and getting to spend time with so many of these people in real life, doing the ordinary boring things together: like cooking meals, playing board games, going on hikes, dancing around the living room after dinner, and deciding to open and finish the bottle of wine at 2:00am only deepened that sensation that these are our people.
These are the people we feel like we already know even though our only interactions have been on Twitter behind screen names and handles. These are the people who have lived so many of the same or similar experiences we have. These are the same people who get what it looks like to be doing activism on conservative Christian university campuses. These are the people who get what it's like to be in middle school or high school getting kicked off of things because of our queerness. These are the people who we don't have to explain any of the context or history to for the most part, because they already get it. These are the people who can substitute what might be a 15 minute story with just a knowing nod, because they already know exactly what you're talking about without having to hear the specific details.
And that's so healing. It's one of those things that you don't really realize until you're in a space with 15ish other people who are all just like you. They get why church is hard for you. They get why sometimes worship music triggers you. They get all those things, because they've had parallel experiences. And I'm not even sure if there's a better way to put that into words, but being able to spend those days with exclusively queer people was on just such a deep level of being known.
BEING ABLE TO SPEND THOSE DAYS WITH EXCLUSIVELY QUEER PEOPLE WAS ON JUST SUCH A DEEP LEVEL OF BEING KNOWN
I've been feeling this whole time that this summer is sacred, and I think being able to experience queer camp was just another one of those odd things that felt holy over the course of the wildly turbulent year that 2018 has already shaped up to be.
I mean, there's just something holy about being able to know people for years from behind a screen and then, finally, on the intentionality of over a dozen people (and I'm sure a good helping of queer magic) that you get to put voices to Twitter handles, belly laughs to profile pictures, and real stories to Instagram stories.
And it's times like these that I'm reminded that we need community like this. It reminds us that we're truly not alone and that we always have people like us, even if they might happen to live hundreds of miles away.
I truly can't put into words everything that happened at queer camp, everything I learned about these friends, everything I learned about myself, and everything that felt so good and so right and so unifying about queer camp. It was just one of those things that recharges you and makes you feel like everything you're doing has a reason and a purpose behind it.
And for that, I'm grateful. I'm grateful for this time. I'm grateful for these people. And I can't wait until I see them all again.
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