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'Incidentally Queer': Text-Only Version

As Pride Month comes to a close, VPR intern Reed Nye spoke with three LGBTQ+ Vermonters about living their lives here. Reed illustrated their stories in a comic, found here.

The text version is found below.

“Incidentally Queer”: A short comic about LGBTQ+ Vermonters living life to its fullest

Meet Chris Tebbetts. He writes novels for middle schoolers.

“My YA novels feature what I would call incidentally queer protagonists… My intention there is not to provide an inaccurate image of what it is to be queer in this world, but to round out the queer bookshelf.”

In other words, Chris likes to show that people aren’t only defined by their sexuality.

Chris considers his books a celebration of life and gives his characters the freedom to choose how queer-focused they want to be as individuals.

Chris moved to Vermont in 1994 and ran an HIV prevention program and volunteered for the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force. Now his queer involvement is primarily in his writing.

Chris says moving to Vermont and being welcomed into the queer community here reminded him of small-town Ohio where he grew up.

“It was like waking up from a strange dream and finding my home all over again,” he said.

***

Meet Liza Phillip. Liza makes and sells colorful and what they would call fluid art that celebrates self-expression.

Their art depicts characters that are without gender, saying quirky messages that are meant to get people to think while also being relatable.

Growing up in small-town Vermont wasn’t easy all the time -- people weren’t always accepting of queer folks, but Liza found a commuity at Champlain College.

For Liza, celebrating queerness is the freedom to just be -- to cut your hair, dress however you feel, to just live as you are.

“The more you put yourself out there, the easier it gets -- and do it for yourself is the ultimate thing,” Liza said. “‘Cause if you do it for yourself, you can’t fail.”

***

Meet Brenda Churchill. Brenda is the statehouse liaison for the LGBTQIA+ Alliance of Vermont.

She has advocated for the gender neutral bathrooms bill and legislation disallowing transgender and gay panic defense. She’s also worked with the DMV to add gender neutral options on driver’s licenses.

“When you’re transgender versus L, G, or even B, you come out every day,” Brenda said. “It’s part of the armor we wear, the preparations that we make to be able to fit into society, so a lot of times, I tell people, I come out everyday. It’s really a part of who I am.”

For many years, Brenda felt like she was on the edge of the LGBTQ+ community, but she decided to immerse herself in it by advocating for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Brenda has found that Vermont is an inclusive state. “It’s just great to live in a state where we can celebrate ourselves without fear,” she said.

***

This is just a brief glimpse into a very large and diverse community.

Thanks for reading.

Corrected: June 28, 2021 at 5:06 PM EDT
This post has been updated with the correct spelling of Chris Tebbetts' and Liza Phillip's names.