Describing himself as “an anti-racism social justice organizer and advocate fighting for equity in the world,” justin adkins settled in the Berkshires in 2007 to work as a website developer for a technology company. Then, in 2008, he became Assistant Director of the Davis Center, the identity and social justice center at Williams College, where he focuses on gender, sexuality and activism across multiple fronts, including LGBTQ youth.
“As a single super-out bisexual transsexual, you might think that rural community living would be rough,” says adkins, originally from San Diego. “Yet, the Berkshires are a fabulously accepting place where I can be who I am without reservation, and live in accordance with my values.”
Those include growing his own food; supporting local businesses, farms, and cultural venues; and knowing all of his neighbors. “Summer is my favorite time here, including hosting some infamous BBQ’s in my backyard that bring people from all ages, races, genders, and sexualities together to grill and chill with my chickens, which are all named after well-known feminists,” says adkins.
Yet, he acknowledges that there is much work to be done to make the world a safer place for all people. “Supporting LGBTQ youth is a particular passion of mine, and I have been honored to work with many of our local schools to make them more accepting places for our young people, especially our non-binary kids,” says adkins.
For traveling LGBT families, he recommends Kidspace at Mass MoCA (www.massmoca.org) in North Adams; Cricket Creek Farm (www.cricketcreekfarm.com) in Williamstown to see “awesome” cheesemaking; Sand Springs (www.sandspringspool.org/), also in Williamstown; and over the border in Pownal, Vermont., the Camp Sarsaparilla (www.campsarsaparilla.org) day camp.
“Living in a rural community that also has world-class art is the best of both worlds,” he adds. “I try to make a Tanglewood (www.bso.org/brands/tanglewood) concert at least once a year, and I see most of the plays at the Williamstown Theater Festival (www.wtfestival.org),” says adkins. “For dining, Mezze Bar + Bistro (www.mezzerestaurant.com), and of course the Dream Away Lodge (www.thedreamawaylodge.com), are personal favorites.”