Moving to the Vermont Gayborhood of Our Dreams


My wife and I, with our then 2-year-old, moved to Vermont in 2021 from rural Missouri. 

While we had great friends and community in Missouri, we did not feel safe in the increasingly red state. Our hope was to move before our kid started kindergarten due to our school district and board’s increasingly conservative stances and general negativity toward educators. Weird flex, but something had to give, and it was our family.

During the long, long year of 2020 with the early pandemic days and social distancing, we fantasized about living somewhere where we felt freer. Our goal was to go somewhere with a larger, more visible, queer population and a more progressive political climate. We wanted a place where we felt we could settle in long term. A job posting came up in my wife’s field, and as I had been looking longingly at a friend’s beautiful Vermont hiking pictures during the pandemic, I begged her to apply. 

We were thrilled when she got the position, I found one too, and we were able to move to this beautiful state.

We bought a house in Essex Junction via Facetime and soon learned we had moved to the Vermont Gayborhood of our dreams. 

Living in our Vermont Gayborhood is like being in Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show, but queer and without a fumbling local sheriff who’s always around. At least that’s what I think happens in Mayberry- I don’t know that I’ve watched an entire episode, even though I’m a North Carolina native! 

Regardless, we landed in the best place for us.

Progressive pride flag in author's yard in the Vermont gayborhood of our dreams
Soon after moving in, we got a pride flag!

Here are a few reasons we knew right away that our Vermont Gayborhood was our dream location:

  1. A few days after moving, we saw another two-mom family riding their bikes. One of the moms circled back and asked if we were family, we confirmed, and were delighted to learn that the gayborhood group chat had been busy speculating while watching us move in.
  2. From our front yard, we can basically see the houses of four other queer couples. And that’s not even all that live in the gayborhood!
  3. We were invited to neighborhood hangouts very quickly. Despite reading about how Vermonters take a while to warm up, we found that wasn’t true in our city where there are a lot of warmly-welcomed transplants. Living around so many other queer people who value chosen family doesn’t hurt.

Since we’ve lived here, there have been so many super queer Vermont gayborhood moments and we can’t wait for more. 

The wife and I were on the committee (started by one of our across-the-street gaybors) for Essex’s first Pride, and despite never running this kind of event, it went really well. We can’t wait to do it again in 2024. 

Setting up Essex Pride in 2023. Author's kid, wearing a pink jacket, explores.

We spent a Thanksgiving with gaybors, carting our food in our daughter’s wagon down the street. I called on some of them to babysit when I was in a pinch, and I have done the same for them. 

I made fascinators to watch the Yellowjackets season 2 finale with two gaybor pals. It’s queer magic in action, and we love it.

We’re excited for our kiddo to grow up around so many other queer and queer-friendly families!

As we’re living so far from our bio families, it’s great that we are building a chosen family locally. I don’t want to speak poorly of rural Missouri, and we knew lots of queer people there too, but here in our gayborhood, we feel more relaxed and we rarely worry about how people will react to us, and to our kid having two moms. 

If bigots confront us here, we are confident that others will have our back in visible ways. It’s a great feeling and I love that we are able to raise our kiddo in this supportive place where our values are echoed by the people around us. 

We’re also key members of our Vermont gayborhood group chat.

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Moving to the Vermont Gayborhood of Our Dreams

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Summer Pennell
Summer moved to Vermont in 2021 with her wife and kiddo (now 4). She lives in an amazing gayborhood in a great community, and loves to pretend she's in a real-life Hallmark movie. Summer has degrees in English literature, visual arts, folklore, and education (clearly, making lucrative choices) and works with future secondary teachers. Along with some neighbors and her wife, she served on the Essex Pride Committee that planned the first pride in Essex Junction in 2023. Her hobbies include crafting (cross stitching and making fascinators are her favorites), reading queer romance and YA, spontaneous kitchen dance parties, and watching ridiculous things on TV. Her family enjoys exploring the beautiful state and surrounding areas, and she always welcomes suggestions for family-friendly activities.


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