Growth Spurt

Youth Pride Turns 10

Marking its 10th year, the stage is set for Youth Pride Day in Rock Creek Park at the corner of P and 23rd streets NW on April 22. And like a lot of 10-year-olds, Youth Pride Day is going through a growth spurt.

”On the sponsorship side, Dignity Washington is new,” says Paul Marengo, who oversees the event to a degree as part of his larger role of director of Youth Pride Month. A number of new GLBT organizational sponsors have come on board to sponsor the event, such as The Task Force.

Marengo has previously served as Youth Pride Week director for the Youth Pride Alliance — with the event growing to encompass a full month of activities, his title and responsibilities have grown as well. The month kicked off this year with a concert by bisexual folk rocker Melissa Ferrick on March 31. There have been forums, workshops and social events. The ”Infatuation” dance will happen at Nation from 6 to 10 p.m. on April 22. The ”Alternate Prom” will close out the month April 29 at the Human Rights Campaign’s headquarters.

Photo copyright Isoceles Publishing
Find pics from past Youth Pride events

Still, Youth Pride Day remains the jewel in the crown. Helping to ring in the special anniversary celebration will be keynote speaker Kashish Chopra, a young lesbian and winner of the Miss Congeniality award at the Miss India U.S.A. pageant in 2003.

”It was really amazing to see LGBT youth and allies come together in an open space, to celebrate their lives,” says Tyrone Hanley of his first Youth Pride Day last year. Today, he’s the president of the Youth Pride Alliance. ”I’m guessing most of us have experienced some type of maltreatment for being gay, or perceived as gay. It was just an uplifting experience. We are a part of the community, and this is our time to really enjoy who we are together.”

Youth Pride Day co-director Nikisha Carpenter said Monday that’s she’s keeping an eye on the weather while finalizing the on-stage lineup of singers, dancers, spoken-word and more. Should the event be washed out on Saturday, it wouldn’t be a first.

”The weather report, as of today, says scattered thunderstorms,” Carpenter said. To stay up-to-date, she suggests anyone planning on attending Youth Pride Day sign-up for the Youth Pride Alliance e-mail alerts at www.youthpridedc.org immediately, which will be used to notify the community if the event is rained out. Should that be the case, the rain date is April 29. The ”Infatuation” dance planned for April 22 will stick to the schedule, regardless of weather.

Hanley says he’s crossing his fingers in hopes that they’ll see blue skies on April 22. Regardless of the weather, Hanely adds that he’s simply happy to see Youth Pride Day hit this anniversary.

”It really is a big milestone,” he says. ”It’s really amazing that for 10 years this has been a landmark event. And it’s completely volunteer. It’s amazing that we can get to this point with no staff. … It’s an opportunity for youth to connect with organizations, as well as each other.”

For more information on Youth Pride Day and related events, visit www.youthpridedc.org.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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