Boulder may be a hugely accepting and liberal place, but it’s not known for having a ton of queer resources. There’s not even a designated queer bar, and unlike Denver, where there seems to be a resource and inclusive organization on every corner, most of Boulder’s resources are centralized through Out Boulder.
Rather than be daunted and overwhelmed by this, however, Mardi Moore sees this as an opportunity to reach even more people who need queer resources in Boulder. We chatted with her about how far the organization has come and how much more great work they plan to do.
Tell me more about your work over the years and where you hope to see the organization in the future.
We’re raising money right now to move into a different location in Boulder; we have outgrown our house. We have three groups that don’t currently fit because they’re too large, our trans support group, our youth group and an LGBTA group that we rent space to. So, we’re in the process of moving to another house, which we’re not going to own, but we can take out some walls and have a long-term lease.
We hope that in the next three or four years that we actually build our own LGBT center that has enough space for a variety of support groups that happen at the same time and enough room for our staff to actually have an office with a door so they can concentrate and do their work. That’s one of the infrastructure things that we need to set our sights on.
Longterm we’re working to have our county and surrounding counties supportive of LGBTQ people. And we do that by putting on events like Pride, and trainings so we can break down the misinformation and provide information so people don’t function out of ignorance and hate. Our youth program is rapidly growing; we have an amazing youth program coordinator.
This year, we did our first summer camp, and that will be a continuing program. We took 12 youth for three or four days up into the mountains, and it was the first time many of them have been away from home, and the first time they had been away for that many days with people just like them. It was a tremendous experience.
Nice! What other things do you have in the works?
We have two steering committees to drive our work, and one is our trans steering committee. This upcoming year, we are, of course, going to have some events around trans day of remembrance. And the next year, we are moving up to trans awareness week to highlight trans day of visibility, to try and also focus on the good things that are happening in the trans community, as opposed to focusing just on the deaths.
Additionally, we have a queer, trans, people of color steering committee. In October, we’re going to launch a monthly, second Saturday, gathering for queer and trans people of color here so that people can start building community or expanding their communities.
Then there’s another program coming up in September that’s called Civil Discourse in a Volatile Time. We’re working to figure out how to have conversations with people we don’t necessarily agree with that are productive. Because, even if we are lucky enough to have a new president in 2020, a large amount of damage has been done, and a lot of lines have been drawn. We have to be able to get back to where we can have a civil conversation with someone, whether we agree with them or not. So we are bringing in trainers September 21 and 22 to developed curriculum for adults and for youth, as well as for trainers.
Reflecting overall on the work that you’ve done and all of the changes that you’ve seen, what are you the most proud of?
I’m most proud of the staff that works at Out Boulder County, the tremendous group of people who are dedicated to the movement and the service of the LGBT community. I’m proud of the part I had in hiring those people.
I’m proud of the fact that over the last four years, we’ve gone from serving about 7,000 people to serving about 15,000 people. I’m proud of the fact that we now have a Longmont office, and it’s serving another community that the 2020 census will probably show is as big as Boulder. So those are some things that I’m proud of.
What do you want to see the most in the future? What do you still think needs to change?
I think things definitely still need to change. In Colorado, we’re fortunate that we have really great laws. But one of the problems is that you can have a really great law, and you can still face discrimination, and you can still face hate. Laws don’t mean culture has shifted. So, I think the work that Boulder County does with governments, with faith institutions, with schools, with people who reach out for information, are making a shift in culture. That shift in culture will then make the laws be meaningful.