As we say hello to a brand-new decade, I proudly proclaim that 2019 was the most expansive and successful year for Hagerstown Hopes yet! First off, we just want to say a tremendously heartfelt thank you to all of our volunteers, patrons, and allies. We could not do anything without each and every single one of your bodies, minds, and ideas. And what a year it has been! From adding a spousal group that meets concurrently as our Trans Group, to getting our Youth Group up and running, and putting on the first pride prom for Washington County and the surrounding region, we did not give ourselves time to boast or rest on our laurels. As our organization grew, we grew with it. Increasing the size of our organized body and doubling our list of volunteers was just the start, we also added committees for those who do not partake in the traditional “bar scene,” including an active / outside group, known as Queer Camp. Even our strength through solidarity cannot be touched, this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil had the highest attendance of both cisgender as well as trans / non-binary folks. There is no shortage of goals and ideas and people to help, and we want to make sure we can work alongside and for our entire community of Washington County, and beyond.
Before we even have a chance to let our holiday feasts digest, it is already time to put away the mistletoe and stockings, because Hopes is going full-steam-ahead! Capping off our most active and successful year, Hopes was the beneficiary again of the annual Nicole James’ Holiday Extravaganza “Peace, Love and Joy,” which was held at The Lodge in Hagerstown. The silent auction as well as all of the performer’s tips were again allocated as a great way to jumpstart our Pride funding. Putting on the best all-day-event in the county is no small feat, and it is with great joy that I write that from that one event we have already raised over $13,000 towards making sure Pride 2020 continues to raise the bar for ourselves! Nothing says ringing in the new year like already being ahead of the game for the next one.
Speaking of Pride, go ahead and mark your calendars, because Saturday July 18th is already booked with our name on it! Downtown in the square will be a colorful array of people of all facets of the LGBTQ community and our amazing allies! Join us for our biggest event of the year, and do not forget, Hagerstown Pride is a family-friendly affair with events and activities for all ages and walks of life. As in years past, our King and Queen of Pride (Chase Anthony and Maranda Rights) will be our esteemed emcee’s and make sure the maximum amount of fun, celebration, and camaraderie will be shared among all who are present.
We say it every chance we get, but truly, Hagerstown Hopes is more than an organization for queerly-affiliated folks. Our community is shared by such a wonderful, diverse group of individuals, and it is imperative we continue to work to assist as many as humanly possible. Working alongside such wonderful organizations such as Beacon House, Children in Need, For Otis Sake, and Trans Healthcare MD allows us to bridge more gaps than we could by simply waving a rainbow flag. If you have a drive to help, but are unsure how to plug-in, come to our Events Committee meeting on Tuesday January 7th at 6:30 at The Hub at Mulberry Lofts to find out everything we have coming up and how you too can be part of the positive change happening on the western side of the state!
- Asher Kennedy is a writer, activist, transman and cisnerd living an hour outside of Washington in the Eastern Panhandle of WV. An alumnus of Shepherd University where honed both his writing and musical skills, he is the current treasurer of Hagerstown Hopes, serving as a member of its Board of Directors. He is also the co-facilitator of both the Trans and Spouse groups. Through his work with Hagerstown Hopes, he works alongside Trans Healthcare MD to bridge the gap for medical knowledge and coverage for the trans and non-binary communities throughout Maryland. He has been featured on RoleReboot (rolereboot.org) and is an avid speaker for local college and community panels. He is on Twitter @ItsAsherK, and can be found re-watching the same six episodes of The Office in his spare time.