‘We Are Here for Them:' VT LGBT Nonprofit Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Teams of community members pulled a fire truck to raise money for a group that supports LGBT and questioning youth

A Vermont nonprofit that works to support LGBT and questioning youth celebrated its 30th anniversary Saturday with an eye-catching fundraiser.

Teams of twelve flexed their muscles to move a 30,000-pound or more fire truck 30 feet up part of the Church Street Marketplace in downtown Burlington, after raising money for Outright Vermont.

“It’s been a safe space where I can go and I can be myself,” Ezra Totten, 15, said of Outright.

Especially after the FBI reported several years of increases in bias-related crimes nationally, including ones against LGBT people, Outright’s annual fire truck pull was aimed at telling youth they have lots of friends and neighbors “pulling” for them.

“It is critical that folks know that they are loved, that they are supported, and that they have a community that is showing up, rain or shine, to make sure they know we are here for them,” said Dana Kaplan, the executive director of Outright Vermont.

For 30 years now, Outright has worked on education and outreach to Vermont schools, and other efforts aimed at serving LGBT and questioning youth. That population can face serious problems at higher rates than their peers, including suicide attempts and bullying, Outright noted.

Oskar Neuberger, 16, of Montpelier said Outright was critical in helping him and his family navigate questions about his gender identity.

“Starting my medical transition was a really hard point in my life,” Neuberger recalled. “I’m in a completely different place now than I was then, and I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t been able to access the resources Outright had for me.”

The nonprofit had hoped to raise $100,000 with this year’s pull to fund its programming, but smashed that goal, hauling in more than $120,000, according to organizers.

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