Circle Back

Annual Youth Pride moves back to Dupont Circle

by Yusef Najafi
Published on April 21, 2011, 2:45am | Comments

If you've attended Youth Pride in D.C. over the past several years, then you're well acquainted with the grassy green lawn that is P Street Beach Park.

But it wasn't always that way. Youth Pride organizers are going back to their roots, returning the celebration to Dupont Circle where it began.

''Being the 15th year, we wanted to go back to the original home back in 1996,'' says Nikisha Carpenter, Youth Pride Alliance board president. ''We also wanted it to be in a location where we would have more visibility. The circle is very centrally located and easy for the youth to find us, and also easier for us to let the community know about us.''

Christopher Dyer, the mayor's liaison to the LGBT community during the Adrian Fenty administration, could be considered the father of this festival as the man who launched Youth Pride. And he, too, is happy about the return.

''I think it's great that Youth Pride is going back to its roots,'' he told Metro Weekly via email. ''Participants should expect a great event with inspirational speakers, excellent performers and an opportunity to hang out in the circle and experience the joy of being surrounded by out proud LGBT youth and their supporters.''

Carpenter says this year's event will include a stage program in the northern edge of the circle featuring speakers, drag performances, singer/songwriter performances, poetry and games.

''The biggest thing that we're excited about is we've been working with this youth group from the [D.C.] Office of the [State] Superintendent [of Education], and they're putting together a big scavenger hunt in the circle.''

This year's performers include the DC Cowboys as well as Drag City with Shi-Queeta Lee. Carpenter adds that Mayor Vince Gray, in addition to the city's councilmembers, have all been invited to attend.

Carpenter hopes this year's event sends a message to struggling LGBT and questioning youth about the resources that are available to them, including the Trevor Project and the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL).

''As a community, we know about all the bullying that's going on in schools. With all the suicides that are happening, we need these kids – whether gay or straight – to know that they have a support system and that they're not alone.''

Youth Pride Day is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, at Dupont Circle. If it rains, the event will be postponed to May 7. For more information, visit youthpridealliance.org.