In many ways, this has been a difficult year for much of the country. We’ve faced major hurricanes, mass shootings, and myriad days of protests. LGBTQ centers have been attacked from New Jersey to Florida to Oklahoma to California to even Casa Ruby here in D.C. LGBTQQA youth have been attacked — especially transgender and gender nonconforming youth of color — both physically and verbally by their peers and adults. Political leaders have rescinded protective policies and introduced bills that vilify LGBTQ people. We’ve had internal conflicts in the LGBTQQA community and have started and continued conversations about how to be more inclusive and equitable.
This year, we are holding the 21st annual Youth Pride Day later than in the past: from Noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Dupont Circle. As a board, we wanted to take a step back and make sure LGBTQQA youth wanted and were interested in the event. We held a planning meeting in July, where we heard a resounding “yes” that youth wanted this event to happen. We heard that youth were looking forward to Youth Pride Day, and that it was needed and necessary — especially considering the political climate and what youth are facing.
The truth is, we don’t hear enough about the success stories. Our LGBTQQA youth are doing amazing things — from organizing to telling their stories and standing up for their rights. Youth like Gavin Grimm, who sued his high school district board in Virginia to be allowed to use the restroom that matched his gender identity. The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the Court of Appeals to determine if, since he graduated in spring, the case is moot. Gavin will be at Youth Pride Day to tell his story.
And youth are organizing like never before. In a year that has seen more than a few protests, we’ve also seen our youth involved at the grassroots levels. They are organizing street and dance protests, getting the word out and showing up to support causes they believe in. They are forging their own paths and leading the way for others to follow. They are actively involved in starting GSAs and are finding their activist voices younger and younger.
Youth Pride Day provides leadership training and facilitates intergenerational partnerships. We are dedicated to helping address the cultural, educational, political and social needs of young people in the D.C. metropolitan area, whether they are immigrants, transplants or D.C. natives from east of the river. This year, we entered an MOU with The Future Foundation, a D.C.-based youth-empowerment organization, to support, create, and facilitate culturally competent programs for the LGBTQQA community. We envision a future where LGBTQQA youth understand their individual dignity and collective power and are working together for a just society.
Connections between youth and community resources — whether organizations, support groups, or one trusted adult — can last for decades. They are a bridge out of abusive homes, nights on the streets, families and schools that don’t understand. Without Youth Pride, the thousands of young people who have participated over the years would not have learned about the resources in our community. We’d like to thank the District of Columbia Department of Health for their continued support of Youth Pride Day and for providing inclusive services to LGBTQQA youth all year long.
At this year’s Youth Pride Day, we’ll have speakers, entertainers, performers, and youth-serving organizations. After Youth Pride Day, we are hosting the Dance at Tropicalia, 2001 14th St. NW, from 6-9 p.m. It’s free — with food and drinks provided — for ages 24 and younger.
Thank you, and see you on Saturday!
Sarah Blazucki and Nikisha Carpenter
Youth Pride Alliance
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