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Summer Camp Pride

Written by Austin Ross


Posted on July 03 2017

Last Thursday was my favorite day of Summer. That particular day is always my favorite day of Summer. That day is right up there on my list of the three biggest things of the year. Our annual Palm Springs weekend getaway, putting up my Christmas tree, and Summer Camp.  

When I was a little kid, I never went to Summer Camp. I was not popular in school and did not fit in there so the idea of going somewhere else, that was hot and outside, where I wouldn’t fit in held zero appeal for me. Luckily for me, I had a wonderful big-haired lady across the street, my grandmother, that made my childhood a blast. We had something going on every season, but our Summers were always full. Many times, the Summer was the pre-plan for all things Holiday Décor- so I come by that honestly. It is a sickness, but luckily for me, I am married to someone who understands that November 1st is the day that we transition from Jack-o-lanterns to Jingle Bells and doesn’t bat an eye. 

Last Thursday, I showed up with a trunk load of donuts, cookies, lemonade, wigs, fabric,and glue-on rhinestones at a Summer Camp high on a mountain top in Wrightwood California. I was with my husband and two friends I have had since I was 18. We arrived at camp Brave Trails with goodies and fun for the LGBT and allies youth camp that was the first of its kind in the country. This camp is where kids from all over the country come for one week to hang out with their peers and have fun. It is a place where they can be themselves and where they do not have to try to fit a mold. There are many LGBT kids, and there are many straight kids too. There are gay and straight adults there to make sure everyone has fun, and there is no need to worry about who is who because everyone is safe. Everyone is welcome. Everyone has a friend. It is amazing. Really. 

We went to make costumes for the kids who were in the talent show. They could dress in drag or not dress in drag. They could wear wigs or not wear wigs. The could wear combat boots or sparkly eye shadow, or in a few cases wear both at once. We teach that clothes are just fabric. That glitter is just sparkly. That an arrow can be shot just as expertly in a tutu. That a picnic can be just as awesome in a pink mohawk wig. Just to have fun and be you. So, I go to teach these kids that you can dress up if you want, that you don’t have to if you don’t. That drag is a costume that you can put on or that you can go your whole life without doing it. That you should have fun doing whatever you do. I am there to show them that you can be young and bullied, young and sad, confused and, yes, even suicidal, but not to give up. It does get better. I go to show them that no matter how hard it is you will find yourself. But, you know what? All of my good intentions, all of my well thought out life lessons, all of my hope of going to entertain them, goes right out the window. These children teach me. I am the one that ends up with tears in my eyes at the admiration of their strength. I am the one who is overflowing with gratitude. So, I am just the guy who shows up with snacks really, and I could not be more proud the be that guy!




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