Words by Tess Becker
Over the last two years in the US, there has sadly been a record-breaking number of anti-trans bills leveled at the state level, and while more liberal states are entrenching the rights of LGBTQ+ people, others are making it harder to do things such as transition, get name changes, and even marry.
It’s news like this that inspired Angela Giampolo to do what she does, and her future endeavor with the Caravan of Hope.
“My personality is very literal,” Angela tells Smiley News. “I tend to call things as they are my Instagram is your gay lawyer, my website is lawyer dot LGBT, and this is literally a Caravan of Hope.”
Her law firm, Giampolo Law Group, even has an advocacy arm called Philly Gay Lawyer. Now with the Caravan of Hope, she’s working to bring legal services to LGBTQ+ people across the country, specifically in areas with much less representation and availability.
She was inspired in large part by the legislation leveled at queer people across the country.
“I've been gay as long as I’ve known right? So put my little first-grade self using my allowance to buy my first-grade teacher flowers instead of my mom in a political climate of ‘Don't Say Gay’ where I can't talk,” Angela says. “I know inherently I shouldn't say the word that describes what I am, so then we are embedding shame. Guilt is I feel bad for what I did. Shame is bad for who I am. This is literally just embedding shame at the very base of children's early childhood.”
Angela wants to help the people that aren’t represented in their community. The Caravan is going to go cross country aiming to hit smaller communities with fewer services and a smaller community for queer people to help them with their legal needs.
“I'm not worried about the Wilton Manors of the world, because there are affluent, older gay people there that are confident with themselves and you throw a rock, you hit a gay person,” Angela says. “I think of Fort Worth Alabama, or a very small town in the middle of Texas, or Laramie, Wyoming.
“What about the gay folks in those areas where it's not okay to be gay?”
Angela has been planning out routes into medium cities throughout middle America that she sees has a need for legal counsel. The reason she’s looking for medium-sized towns as opposed to really small rural towns is that there’s a fear that someone hopping on the Caravan may be outing themself to a potentially intolerant or unaccepting community where word travels over small populations.
Some of the services they’re going to provide on the Caravan are name changes for transgender people, uncontested divorces, adoption petitions, immigration services, elder abuse, and much more. Ideally, the legal work is something they can do in a single afternoon, but the plan is to provide at least a jumping-off point for people that need the help.
“People can pop in with a question,” Angela says. “A lot of people don't even necessarily know what the need is. I spoke to a trans woman yesterday about her name change and didn't realize everything that was involved in it so she really just called with a question and then it turned into that so yeah, either a question or you have an actual need.”
The Caravan is slated to make its maiden journey in the summer of 2023.
Here is an itinerary for the Caravan
June 2nd - Provincetown, MA (Pride Festival)
June 4th - Asbury Park, NJ (Pride Festival)
June 6th - Rehoboth Beach, DE
June 8th - Baltimore, MD
June 10th - Washington DC (Pride Festival)
June 11th - Charleston, SC
June 12th-13th - Birmingham, AL (Pride Festival)
June 14th - Arkadelphia, AK (can you believe the name?! Coming from Philadelphia!)
June 16th - Oklahoma City, OK
June 19th - Sante Fe, NM (Pride Festival)
June 20th - Salt Lake City, UT
June 21st - Laramie, WY (Matthew Shephard)
June 23rd - Lincoln, NE
June 25th - Chicago, IL (Pride Festival)
June 27th - Columbus, OH
June 29th - Pittsburgh, PA
June 30th - Philadelphia, PA