Young people passionate about Queer Straight Alliances have walked away from a Wellington hui buzzing with pride, and ideas.
Forty youth attended Patchwerq in Wellington last weekend, with around 35 volunteers helped out in everything from organising the hui, acting as youth workers and cooking, to being counsellors and running workshops.
National Coordinator of the QSA Network Tabby Besley says the gathering ran incredibly smoothly and it was amazing to see the young people connecting with each other and feeling safe to be who they are.
Besley says there were workshops on identity, gender, spirituality, inclusive groups and how to set up and run groups, as well as one with Jack Byrne from the Human Rights Commission about priorities for the government, schools and so on to take action on. "It involved a great X Factor judging panel!" she says.
"There was yummy food, a fabulous talent show which included a ukulele rap to the tune of 'Billionaire' dedicated to the organisers, crafts and envelopes full of warm fuzzies for everyone to read on their travels home."
Besley says the hui also empowered young people to set up and sustain QSA groups in schools, with a focus on how to make those groups inclusive of all different identities and backgrounds, not just sexual and gender minorities.
Organiser Kassie Hartendorp from School's Out says PatchwerQ Hui achieved a sense of connectedness and support for queer youth, "some of whom were based in smaller towns with little to no support for those questioning and exploring their sexuality and gender identity. Run by youth for youth, the hui created a safer environment to spark ideas, start conversations, build friendships and to have fun."
The hui's wide range of topics went down well. Another of the organisers, Brodie Fraser from QSA Network Aotearoa, loved the discussions about the impact of colonisation in relation to the queer community. "I learnt so much and it made me realise just how important it is that we keep conversations like this happening, rather than just sweeping them under the rug."