AUBURN, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) It’s not Pride Month but some say the need to show support to the LGBTQ community is greater than ever.
That’s why two Schuylkill County women are spending this coming Saturday shedding a light at the “Shining Together: LGBTQ Summit.”
Maria Sanelli, co-producer of Shining Together: LGBTQ Summit, has all the equipment needed to create a hotel conference-like experience right from her house.
It’s going to come in handy when she and Mikaela Gavaletz host their first ever “Shining Together: LGBTQ Summit”.
Mikaela Gavaletz, co-producer of Shining Together: LGBTQ Summit, says, “It’s education. It’s visibility.”
Both members of the LGBTQ community, the two women faced countless battles to find where in society they fit in.
“Not being able to express your true self is like a prison sentence,” says Gavaletz.
Gavaletz is a transgender woman who grew up in Schuylkill County. It wasn’t until she was older, living in California, that she started living in her own truth and made her transition. But that was only half the battle.
Gavaletz, tells us, “Coming home in 2010 to the same situation that I was trotting through in 1972 is… It’s just not acceptable.”
Sanelli was also on the west coast when she came out.
“For myself, I went all the way to San Francisco and came out. And I don’t think you have to move three thousand miles to learn about who you are. You can do it right here,” says Sanelli.
The two came together for the summit after Sanelli saw Gavaletz’ enthusiasm hosting the Inaugarul LGBTQ Festival in Pottsville. Both hope this summit will be an educational experience to create a more accepting culture in northeastern Pennsylvania.
“The more diversity, the more exposure to difference, the more impact we can make,” says Sanelli.
The summit will have vendors and people of all different backgrounds and sexual orientations presenting.
All proceeds will go towards the Youth Empowerment Support Center, which is in the works to create a safe space for youth in the LGBTQ community.