At 14, Le’Laia Brito Diaz is bursting with creativity, from writing songs about her first crush to developing skateboard tricks. But finding a summer camp that appreciates her talents and queer identity didn’t go well the last time she tried a program in North Carolina.
“I don’t fit in anywhere so I was just bullied a bit and I just hope it doesn’t happen again,” Le’Laia said.
Now, with the pandemic restrictions lifted, she is grateful that LGBT youth camps like Camp lightbulb are resuming in-person programming this year.
“To be welcomed, not to be different, not to have different feet, I can’t wait. I can’t wait to meet everyone,” she said.
Camp Lightbulb offers weekend camps here in town as well as a traditional Massachusetts sleep option, but it all went virtual last year because of the pandemic. Councilor Josh Kelley says it was difficult, but especially for the kids.
“There are countless young people who are maybe in school or with their friends at school but not at home, and everything has been ripped off,” said Kelley, who says returning to camp this year means restoring a vital lifeline.
“I was thinking a lot about what’s special this summer and that is that they deserve to return to these communities and spaces where they feel safe,” Kelley said.
Le’Laia and her mother agree.
“I don’t want her to be scared, I want her to be a role model for others who have been in the same situation too, so she has my full support,” said Christie Diaz, Le’Laia’s mom. .
The teenager is eagerly awaiting support from Camp Lightbulb and making friends who will have her.
“It’s like a really big space to express yourself. You can take your ukulele and say ‘guys, I wrote this song, would you like to hear it? “and they’re gonna be like ‘yeah, let’s hear this’.”