Queer Ethic & Guiding Principles

Published - 2023

Just as our founders believed 35 years ago, for LGBTQ+ youth 

to survive and thrive, we must:

Find our people, reimagine the future, and transform the world.

1989: The origins of audacity and radical hope

Outright’s origin story is a tale of community-based action and fierce, queer-led love. In the midst of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, when a statewide survey showed LGBTQ+ youth were at dramatically higher risks of suicide than their cisgender, heterosexual peers, a small group of community members in Vermont had the audacity to believe that a brighter future was possible.

They envisioned a future where these very youths would experience a sense of belonging, their identities celebrated and embraced. They understood the power and pride that comes from being part of a larger LGBTQ+ community, connected to a beautifully complex history and people - artists, creators, makers, advocates, activists, leaders, and more.

It was a bold vision. It was radical hope. They believed in a world of possibilities.

These are our roots - a mighty, intergenerational group of people living in Vermont with the audacity to believe in and fight for a dramatically different world for LGBTQ+ youth.

In response to the harmful impacts of a culture made up by systems, institutions, policies, and structures never built for us all, they chose radical hope.

Changing the world is possible — in fact, our very lives depend on it

As we reflect on our history and pursue our current mission, we honor the deep connections that exist in our stories and experiences.

Outright’s Queer Ethic and Guiding Principles reflect our current understanding of how to live in the fullness and complexity of our community. As we deepen our knowledge, so too will our practices and commitments reflect that evolution.

Understanding white supremacy from within

White supremacy has always - and continues to - uphold hate in all its forms. It fueled the violence and radicalized greed from which our country was founded: first by creating whiteness to justify violent attempts to erase indigenous people and take their land, and then by using whiteness and a race-based caste system to use black people from around the world as chattel.

Full stop: this dehumanization is our collective history and a mere snapshot of the violent foundations our institutions rest on today. Our social, economic, religious, and moral frameworks were built primarily for white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men and, secondly, for all other white people. We must contend with that and move forward accordingly.

Insidious in nature, white supremacy culture creeps into our psyche so deeply that it is accepted as the way of life. It disguises itself in language like “tradition,” “legacy,” or “it’s always been this way.” It perpetuates itself in calls for neutrality or demands that progress be slowed down or stalled entirely.

White supremacy culture ensures our history is fully whitewashed, conditioning us to believe that the constructs of yesteryear are working equally for us all in the present.

As a queer organization, we understand the ways our lives depend on questioning norms. We understand that those who benefit from our systems - and have never known anything else - often fail to see the inequities.

Where injustice is maintained, and our differences exploited, hate thrives, profoundly impacting people's right to self-determination and joy.

In its many iterations, white supremacy permeates the societal structures where LGBTQ+ youth learn, live, and grow. Our society was built on a foundation not designed for all of us to succeed.

Intentional commitment to the liberation of all people

Having queer roots does not by default make us, or anyone, anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-classist, or feminist. Having an anti-racist ethic is a practice, a value, and most importantly, an ongoing individual, interpersonal, and organizational commitment. It takes a level of intentionality about how and why we resist white supremacy and actively work toward liberation.

Liberation is the antidote to white supremacy.

Liberation values the connection of our stories, dreams, and lived experiences and how they are interwoven. It demands our existence be bound together. It invites the vastness of our collective strength as people living our truth, allowing for the complex beauty in all of us to be fully embraced and nurtured.

In the LGBTQ+ community, we have always survived by imagining the world anew

No construct or tradition is too sacred to be questioned, torn down, or rebuilt with gorgeous flair. Together, our responsibility is to apply that gift of bold reimagining to the structures that lend some of us privilege: whiteness. Ability. wealth.

Without imagining - and then working towards - a liberatory future that holds us all, none of us will ever be truly free.

In the healing ideas of writer and thought leader, adrienne maree brown:

"What we give attention to grows. What we pay attention to grows." 
adrienne maree brown

Just as love is the antidote to hate, liberation is the antidote to white supremacy. We choose to give attention to the liberation of all people.

Guiding Principles

A roadmap of intentional commitment

At Outright, we know that the way we build a Vermont where all LGBTQ+ youth have hope, equity, and power requires a clear north star: guiding principles that uphold our ethics, values, and an intentional commitment to the liberation of all people. We pursue our path forward in the following ways:

In order to build movements capable of transforming the world, we have to do our best to live with one foot in the world we have not yet created.

- Aurora Levins Morales

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