A group of 21 people gathered Sunday on the campus of Maryville College for the latest stop on the Summer of Love tour.
The discussion was wide-ranging, which is not surprising because the group was well informed about equality issues to begin with. Picking up on some themes we explored at the Dickson stop, the group spent a lot of time offering their thoughts on the threats to LGBT youth. Of course, homelessness was a major point in the discussion. One participant reminded everyone that LGBT youth homelessness isn't always visible in a conventional way with some youth shifting from place to place every few weeks. And that led naturally into a discussion of the kinds of survival economies that result such as sex work and human trafficking.
I was intrigued by the kinds of resources and solutions that the participants discussed. Their grasp of the issue and their ability to think through building a network of support gave me a great deal of hope that in places like Blount County, which are just outside the state's largest cities, we can do more than make a dent in problem of LGBT youth homeless in Tennessee.
Building a solid network of support in every part of Tennessee is a big task, but it feels less daunting after each stop on the Summer of Love tour.
We are grateful to TEP Foundation Chair Gwen Schablik and her wife Erin for hosting the event today. The grilled hot dogs, baked beans, and the discussion made it picnic to remember. The tour continues in Morristown on Saturday. Find out more and RSVP at the link.