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This weekend I took a trip out into the woods with some of the most amazing people in life. I was at a retreat called Arts in the Woods, a short break for LGBT youth around the country, in upstate New York.
This is just about the safest place that you can call home. For me it was that and more: cultural authenticity, introspection and a do-whatever-you-want kind of ambiance.
Arts in the woods brought together people from all over but most of all it brought our stories together, of young adults hoping to see their dreams come true but who have been pushed to the edge of society because of who they are.
It was an experience that brought me to laughter and tears. We came together in these woods to find the family – that for many of us, and for a very long time, only existed in our minds.
A family that you can only hope would last forever. If only we could have more bonfires, make more dresses together, do more drag, read more poems, vogue a little more, go tubing every day, cook and eat together sing together, hide in the dark together and just forget all the madness that scourges our lives outside the woods, life would pretty much be one amazing experience- and simply that.
I felt so much joy from being there. The interviews that I did with some of my fellow campers (which I will share next week) taught me a lot and most importantly they showed me that everyone owns their own stories, their own protest, their own experience and their ambition.
And there were so many bold faces enriched with talents that were tailored to perfection and that filled the lounge hall with shouting, screaming, clapping and snapping every night.
Going to arts in the woods, I was hoping to find support and make friendships but instead I have found a community and a family.
The theme for this year, “Thrive in the Woods” – the underlying meaning of which stems from yearning to go beyond the obstacles that may confront us in our day to day life.
Writers, musicians, rappers, videographers, dancers, drag stars, this has been a talent galore – you are either in the woods to find your glitter or to share your glitter – of trial and error; here I have discovered so many great talents, it’s only a wonder where all these people have been.
To tap it off, there is that strong bond that made us believe that we have always known each other and this was just a huge family reunion.
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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