Dreams of Hope is Pittsburgh’s only arts-focused organization for queer and allied youth.
Recognizing the need for creative outlets for youth in Pittsburgh, and for positive queer role models and messages in society, Susan Haugh (any pronouns), founded the organization in 2003. Through the power of the arts, Dreams of Hope provides the region’s queer and allied youth a welcoming environment to grow in confidence, express themselves, develop as leaders, and learn to create positive change in their communities.
From 2003-2008, Dreams of Hope focused on its Youth Performance Troupe Program (now known as theatriQ). Once established, the organization branched out in an effort to support and educate a greater number of youth and adult audiences.
Over the 2009-10 season, we designed an online forum for poetry called Web Poets that allowed participation from anyone with access to the internet. Web Poets was an exciting and innovative educational approach to connecting youth (rural, urban, suburban) with a professional educator/poet who could provide positive feedback in a blog format.
During the 2010-11 season, we launched our summer arts camp, Qamp. Qamp provided LGBTQ+ youth a chance to participate in typical summer camp activities like swimming and hiking, as well as arts and educational workshops. Most importantly, Qamp provided youth the opportunity to relax in a supportive environment and be themselves.
During the 2011-12 season, Web Poets was reinvented as speaQ: a regularly occurring, community-based, open stage program that provided LGBTQ+ youth with a safe, creative environment to present original works of poetry, spoken word, music, and dance – or just hang out.
In spring of 2014 we piloted an afterschool program at Shaler High School. The program was an offshoot of speaQ and was developed into a separate program called sQool. sQool is designed to reach greater numbers of youth in school and afterschool environments.