The Meaning of a Picnic
June 20, 2016 1 Comment
By: Hale Sargent
When Peace Corps proposed a little Pride picnic in San Francisco it seemed like a casual thing. We’d gather in a park, share some stories, and go on with our lives.
But when the day came the meaning changed. It was the morning after the Orlando shooting, and as we scrolled through the terrifying news, there we were. Gathered in a park. Sharing stories. Going on with our lives.
The freedom to gather as LGBTQ+ and allies was the product of generations of work. It’s a freedom denied in so many places, including many of the countries where we serve. And it’s a freedom I’d forgotten to appreciate.
There are no life lessons to be found in the slaughter of young people. People of Color did not die so that a group of mostly White RPCVs could appreciate Dolores Park.
But I did find hope in the people I was surrounded with at our silly little picnic. I do think our community — at the intersection of LGBTQ+ and Peace Corps Volunteers — is on the leading edge of what our world will become. And that gives me hope.
I see Peace Corps — a government agency! — hosting webinars for trans* volunteers. I see the agency director at the front of the Peace Corps contingent in DC Pride(picture below) – even sending a message to the global staff regarding Orlando. I even see the staff’s email footers where they indicate which gendered pronouns they prefer.
I also see a community that is treating its lack of ethnic diversity as a crisis, and going all-hands-on-deck for cultural change. As a gay RPCV I feel like I’m a part of what a progressive, inclusive, loving community can look like.
So let’s appreciate our gatherings — every little one of them. Be bold and courageous — be yourselves. Keep up your good work around the world, and let’s please all stay connected!
Hale Sargent served in Armenia from 1998 – 2000. He currently serves on the Steering Committee for the LGBT RPCV Association and can be reached at email@example.com.