We would like to share some very important updates with you about camp. Queer Rock Camp will not be holding a camp session in Olympia this coming summer (2016), and we would like to share why, and invite you to join an ongoing process of feedback and envisioning. Please read on for a letter from the Olympia QRC organizing crew (also available in video form) and a statement from QRC organizers in Seattle about their current plans. We have brainstormed a variety of ways to get your feedback about the past, present, and future of camp – and we hope that you will take some time to share your experiences and ideas with us! Queer Rock Camp values all members of our amazing and funky community, and we hope to continue working together through this time of growth, accountability, and re-envisioning. Please feel free to contact us directly with any questions or concerns.
A Letter To Our Community, From the Olympia Queer Rock Camp Collective
Dear QRC friends, family, and extended community,
We, the current group of Olympia QRC collective members, are reaching out to you to share some of our reflections on camp this past summer, as well as the work we have been doing since camp in 2015. Our group has been reflecting on the values and goals set out for QRC since its beginning five years ago, and realized we have been falling short in many ways.
Since the end of the 2015 camp sessions, we have been processing the impact that QRC has had on various communities, especially the harmful ways that camp has contributed to systemic oppression and violence. Through this reflection the QRC collective has decided to not hold camp in 2016. Instead, we hope to dedicate our time and energy towards accountability work, restorative justice, and community healing.
With great grief and a strong commitment to holding ourselves accountable, the collective acknowledges that pervasive, institutional racism has been upheld within QRC over the years our organization has existed. Other feedback the collective has recurrently received since QRC’s inception is institutional and widespread transmisogyny at camp and in the organizing structure of the collective. Some examples of this feedback is specific to workshops that have been put on over the years; oppressive dynamics between organizers, volunteers, and campers; a lack of support and resources coupled with an uneven distribution of labor; and who feels comfortable and safe returning to camp multiple years and who does not.
This feedback has been repeatedly brought up throughout the history of camp, and it’s clear to us that camp should not happen until we fully dedicate ourselves to building an anti-oppressive QRC. A group within our community, made up of former organizers and long-time volunteers, recently wrote us a letter, part of which states:
We identify racism throughout the organizing and system structure of camp as an inadvertent but violent legacy that has made camp unsafe for POC [People of Color]. We believe that prioritizing camp happening every year without addressing systemic racism perpetuates white savior mentalities and prioritizes the experiences of white youth at the direct expense of youth of color. We are asking the collective (both Seattle and Olympia) to postpone both camps in 2016 in order to fully engage the time and healing needed to focus on accountability, community building and community healing. We ask that the organizing collective fully commit to building an anti-racist Queer Rock Camp.
The collective is so grateful for the feedback and support we have received around camp’s perpetuation of oppression, particularly racism and transmisogyny. This year and every year, Queer Rock Camp has used this feedback to continually try to improve our programming and make camp safer for all participants. We want to acknowledge the important work that youth, volunteers, parents and families, and organizers have done to help QRC grow and change.
However, the Collective recognizes that this work has not been nearly enough. While camp continues to happen, we understand that there will never be enough time to prioritize the accountability and healing that must take place within the QRC community. We see this year not as a year off, but as a year to dedicate ourselves to personal and community growth, as well as to building a Queer Rock Camp where all participants feel empowered, safe, and valued.
Instead of holding a week-long camp the summer of 2016, we’re devoting ourselves to a reflection/reenvisioning project as part of holding ourselves accountable for past years of camp. The goal of this project is to create space to address harm, problems, failures and successes from previous QRC years, as well as re-envision what we want QRC to look like. We can’t do this without our community, and so we’d like to reach out to all previous campers, volunteers, organizers, etc. to share their experiences at camp with us. We realize it’s crucial to open up conversations about camp’s accountability process and discuss ideas for the future of camp with our wider community. We want to hear any feedback you want to share, including any grievances, as well as suggestions for growth. We intend to utilize feedback from the community to collaboratively rebuild Queer Rock Camp into the space we want it to be.
Also, though we aren’t holding camp this year, we still intend to provide alternative resources, space and support for queer youth this year. We would love to hear your ideas and brainstorm together about what these alternative spaces could be.
We will be holding a community forum Saturday March 5th, 2016 to create space to begin to address the issues that QRC has faced, and to plan for the work and projects QRC will be devoting itself to this year. The meeting will be from 2-5PM, with an optional potluck from 1-2PM in the Co-Lab. The address is 317 4th Ave East. Check out our facebook for an upcoming event page. We invite and welcome everyone to come and participate.
We also welcome any feedback to this announcement and letter. Look below for several ways to contact us and provide feedback.
With gratitude, love, and deep intention,
The Olympia Queer Rock Camp Collective
Intentions for Seattle Queer Rock Camp
The Seattle contingent of the Queer Rock Camp collective acknowledges the request to not hold a camp in Seattle this summer and is actively responding to the concerns of the greater QRC community. After holding the first session of Queer Rock Camp in Seattle last summer, we have recently begun building a Seattle-based collective through an open application process. We believe we need to have a solid collective to respond to the unique community in Seattle and to continue to uphold the values of QRC. Our goal is to form a group of collective members committed to interrupting oppression, including transmisogyny and racism, in our organizing collective and in our programming. We are in the process of developing a plan to seek feedback from volunteers and youth specific to the critiques we have received in order to assess the potential impact of canceling camp in Seattle next summer. We intend to involve youth in our process of removing barriers and creating an inclusive environment for the future of Queer Rock Camp in Seattle.
Avenues For Feedback
As we move forward in this process, feedback is crucial to us holding ourselves accountable and creating a better and safer QRC. We would love and appreciate any thoughts you have to share. There are several ways you can give us feedback, including anonymously through an online feedback form, or in person at our community forum.
Online feedback form (anonymous…or you’re welcome to identify yourself): https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-RjhVG5pIb8mXLosFgKmb3HttKpPoy5UcFEAA0IQ7Qg/viewform
An in person community forum is being held on Saturday, March 5th from 1-5pm at the Co-Lab in Olympia. 1-2 is a potluck, and 2-5pm is a structured time to talk. The address for the Co-Lab is 317 4th Ave East.
Email, or one-on-one meeting with an organizer
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts, questions, or concerns. An in person meeting with one or more of the organizers can be arranged over email.