By Anthony Costello, March 12, 2015.

Photos by Bill Gemmill.

HERO Phoenix, an organization geared toward securing LGBT rights through education and training, will host its annual Camp HERO at the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center March 21-22.

The mission of the two-day workshop is to “teach the principles and skills of community organizing to LGBT activists and their allies.”

From storytelling exercises and group activities to lectures and volunteer opportunities, the 20-hour training is designed to inspire and empower attendees to share their personal messages in the name of enacting change.

“HERO’s soul has always been to advocate and change hearts and minds,” said Meg Sneed, HERO Phoenix co-chair. “Camp HERO came about because … we asked ourselves what we could do to get more people involved ... get people more engaged with rallies and events.”

Since HERO formed in early November 2008, its goal has been to educate people on how to become more visible and get informed about the various issues the LGBT community endures daily. It was this goal, coupled with training sessions and educational resources that drew Sneed to HERO three years ago.

“It’s empowering to hear everyone’s story no matter what it is. It can be really raw, but that is why all through the civil rights movement storytelling played a huge part. It affects all of us as individuals and we can feel that connection,” Sneed said. “Exploring all these different aspects of your life, you realize you have stories you didn’t realize were impactful. We’ve had people have breakthroughs here [at Camp HERO] and it’s really emotional to see.”

According to Sneed, the first day of Camp HERO includes the “heart” sessions which ask why are we here and why are we involved.

“We have [attendees] tell their story with no interruption,” Sneed said, “We help them illustrate what they’re trying to say so they can work to create that change … and how to clearly convey their message. It’s emotionally draining but [but it’s] empowering.”

The second day’s sessions are centered on the “head” and highlight how to employ concrete skills to create action.

“Strategy Idol,” one session designed to get participants critically thinking on issues in the community and how to effectively approach them, asks participants to collaborate with group members on a course of action to combat a particular issue.

“We give them feedback on their action by asking difficult questions so they can go back to their groups [and] decide how to best address those gaps in their ideas,” Sneed said.

The final workshop of the Camp HERO weekend is a volunteer speed match that connects attendees with LGBT causes they’re interested in.

“Attendees can see other organizations in the community and see if their skillsets match and if it’s something they’re interested in volunteering for,” Sneed said.

According to Sneed, HERO Phoenix has trained over 300 state police officers and 50 border patrol officers on issues affecting the LGBT community.

“We’ve seen change throughout the state, and we’ve had a 96 percent satisfaction rate with our services,” Sneed said. “Our movement is so much more than just marriage equality.”


9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 21-22

Phoenix Pride LGBT Center

801 N. Second Ave., Phoenix

Tuition: $50

Keep reading Show less
Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

The Best Cannabis Edibles for 2023

Disclaimer: Please note there are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you make a purchase.

I think we’ve all been there back in the day when we smoked our first joint, and then some, (sorry mom)–hacking, coughing, and choking on the herbaceous weed. Nowadays, there are several products on the market that produces the same effects but without a sore throat like the popular cannabis edibles.

Keep reading Show less
a person holding a padlock in front of a window

As an LGBTQ+ patient, you should be able to expect the same high-quality care provided to all patients. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily always prove to be the case. There remains a notoriously significant disparity in healthcare outcomes for LGBTQ+ patients, often related to issues with discrimination among providers.

Even when you find a good physician, this doesn’t mean that everyone interacting with your healthcare information will be as respectful or responsible. It is, therefore, important to be vigilant about how your data is handled. You have a right to privacy just as you have an expectation of fair treatment.

Keep reading Show less

National Margarita Day

A lot of us have really picked up an interest in tequila and it's no wonder. Its popularity is soaring in the U.S. and doesn't look like it'll be slowing down any time soon. The only contender would probably be whiskey. Meh, but they have their own day. Now, it's National Margarita Day and we put together some of the best margarita recipes around so you can pick one or maybe even all of them to try.

We have a few surprises in there too. Maybe it's not all about tequila but it certainly has a theme going on. Take a look at some of these great tequila brands and start making some amazing margaritas today!

Keep reading Show less