News • June 17, 2020

Rural LGBTQ Youth Need Your Support!

It's been a monumental and disorienting week for our communities, with a win from SCOTUS and more attacks against trans folks from the Trump administration. At Equality North Carolina Foundation, we're looking for ways to plug into this moment and uplift the young leaders who will be the architects of change in our country in the years to come.

This Pride month and leading up to Give OUT Day on June 30, we're spotlighting four very special rural youth from across North Carolina who are fighting to build a better state through our Rural Youth Empowerment Fellowship. We hope you'll join us in learning about them and supporting their work through Equality North Carolina Foundation in the weeks to come.


Hailey "Ruby" Hernandez is one of our current RYE Fellows, having spent the past eight months working on a Zine (magazine) project for queer folks living in the South and Appalachia. Hailing from a religious family in Clayton, North Carolina, Hailey, like many rural LGBTQ youth, experienced community isolation while growing up and turned to the internet to find other young people like herself.

"My mom's a Jehovah's Witness and my dad's Catholic," Hailey told ENCF. "Last year I was just looking on the internet for somewhere that I could find resources for myself and other queer youth, and I came across ENCF's Rural Youth Empowerment Fellowship," Hailey told ENCF.

Through her time in the Rural Youth Empowerment Fellowship, Hailey developed "Queer Gone South Zine," a collaborative magazine project involving LGBTQ artists of all different backgrounds. Zines are an important way that many artistic young people from marginalized communities find one another and build something beautiful together. Hailey calls her project "a love letter to the Clayton community."

Through the RYE Fellowship, ENCF was able to provide Hailey with the tools to not only develop "Queer Gone South," but to network and find other LGBTQ young people like her all across this state.

"Zines are a great way to bring everyone together, people of all different identities -- that's what I love about them. The friendships I've made through [Zine culture] are really important to me," Hailey told ENCF. "The opportunity to really use art and activism and how they intersect -- it's so, so important."


The Rural Youth Empowerment Fellowship began in 2018 with the question, "How can we help queer youth thrive in rural North Carolina?" Now the question is, "How can we scale the impact of the RYE Fellowship?" The answer is you.

Friend of Equality, will you give $25 today to help us fund the next cohort of Rural Youth Empowerment Fellows this Fall? With your support, youth like Hailey will be able to bring LGBTQ rural artists together as we navigate this new reality together in the months ahead.

Thank you for everything that you do for Equality North Carolina Foundation and the youth of this state -- it means the world.

P.S. -- Check out a very special video message from Hailey here!

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