Hagerstown Hopes has been on a roll lately! Following our contribution to Shepherd University’s 2019 V-Day celebration (Let’s Talk About Sex and Gender), board member Asher Kennedy recently represented Hagerstown Hopes at Shepherd University’s second annual Diversity and Inclusion Conference. Kennedy presented “The Grey Area: Transgender Life and Liberty in America,” a presentation highlighting the experiences of transgender persons in America from pre-American to modern times, along with the social and political issues affecting those in the community.
The conference was free and open to both Shepherd students and the general public. Those attending received a handout of information about the transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive community, along with a list of helpful resources. Kennedy and fellow board member Brian George Hose created a power point presentation expanding on the contents of the handout, and community outreach committee member Bleighne Jordan shared tips on how to be supportive to transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive individuals, as well as anecdotes from their life that helped attendees better understand the struggles that have faced those in the transgender community in the past as well as the present. Kennedy did a fine job representing Hopes and the transgender community, and we thank Shepherd University for inviting us to participate in the Diversity and Inclusion conference and for the opportunity to further our work.
We are fortunate that we have received such tremendous support from our local community that has allowed us to do the work we care about. Now that we have established a presence in the local community, we’re taking steps to better care for our larger community. As we all know, the US is experiencing an unprecedented heroin and opioid epidemic. By the time you read this, members of the board and committees will have been trained in administering Narcan, a drug that can stop and even reverse the effects of an otherwise fatal overdose. The training was provided by Washington Goes Purple, a campaign centered in Washington County to educate the community and youth about the dangers of heroin and opioids. Once trained, our members will receive Narcan to be used if we should encounter a person experiencing an overdose. We sponsor a number of public events, including Hagerstown Pride (July 13), and we think it’s only responsible to be prepared to help anyone in our community while we await emergency services.
Our youth outreach is also making strides. We will be hosting an LGBTQ prom for youth in Hagerstown and the surrounding areas on April 20. We’re in the process of coordinating with school officials and the youth in our community to make this an inclusive event everyone will enjoy. We’ve also been working with the City of Hagerstown in creating the inaugural Hagerstown Youth Advisory Council. We’re looking for nine local youths to work with the City to inform their agenda and help address the needs of young people in the area. Check out our Facebook posts for more information!
We’ve been working hard, so it’s time to have a little fun! Join us March 31 for Drag Bingo, in partnership with For Otis Sake Rescue, Inc., a local nonprofit providing necessary services to vulnerable animals. The theme is Grease and we will have performances by Stephanie Micheals, ChiChi Ray Colby, Araya Sparxx, Chasity Vain, Nicole James, Butch Kelly, and Ashley Bannks at the Break Away II Warehouse Venue! Our last Drag Bingo sold out quickly, so get your tickets now before it’s too late! The event is open to those 21 and older, and a ticket includes a lunch buffet. There will also be a cash bar, tip jars, raffles, a 50/50, and special bingo games! Tickets can be purchased from Greasebingo.everbrite.com Proceeds benefit Hagerstown Hopes and For Otis Sake Rescue. Follow us on Facebook or visit us at Hagerstownhopesmd.org to stay in the loop! We hope to see you soon!
- Brian George Hose has been an advocate for LGBTQ persons and issues all his adult life. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Shepherd University and looks forward to pursuing a Master's of Social Work with a focus in mental health. A former musician, Brian served as minister of music for New Light MCC for several years and incorporates music into social work practice. He lives in rural Western Maryland where he has amassed a sinful number of books, yarn, and books about yarn. He has been writing for Baltimore Out Loud since February 2016.