“My very first experience with Youth Pride was as a volunteer,” says Nikisha Carpenter, president of the Youth Pride Alliance. “I had some friends who were on the board at the time, and the experience was eye-opening.
“I was a lot younger, and a lot of the people who were at Youth Pride were close to my age, but just seeing the youth who were there speaking and telling their stories, and seeing how brave they were, was encouraging and inspiring to see. I left wanting to be a part of it, and that’s why I eventually joined the board.”
This year’s Youth Pride event will take place around the Dupont Circle Fountain on Saturday, May 4, and will feature live performances from singers, dancers, spoken word poets, and local drag kings and queens. The organization has put out an open call for performers and speakers, who are encouraged to share memories or stories about their first Pride experience or the coming out process. Those wishing to perform or speak should sign up for a spot at the Youth Pride Alliance website.
While a finalized list of activities has yet to be issued, the day will also feature local service and community organizations at tables handing out fliers, informational pamphlets, or swag to attendees. There will also be several speakers, including representatives from the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, D.C. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At-Large), and representatives from organizations such as SMYAL, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Rainbow History Project.
“We’ve teamed up with Damien Ministries to produce the event that day,” says Carpenter. “They’ve been an amazing partner, literally and figuratively a godsend.”
An hour after the festival ends, there will be a Mardi Gras-themed dance at the Palomar Hotel, two blocks away. Carpenter is excited to see how youth respond to the dance, which is a new feature of this year’s celebration.
“The biggest thing that’s unique about Youth Pride is it’s targeted for people under age 24, whereas a lot of other Prides are geared more toward the older crowd or centered around the club scene and partying,” says Carpenter. “This event is definitely more for young folks, from high school age to young adults, giving them a chance to come out and celebrate Pride in a space where they can be themselves and feel comfortable.”
Youth Pride is on Saturday, May 4 from 12 to 5 p.m. at Dupont Circle NW. For more information, or to sign up as a performer or public speaker, visit www.youthpridealliance.org or email Nikisha Carpenter, NCarpenter@youthpridealliance.org. The Youth Pride Dance is at the Palomar Hotel, 2121 P St. NW, from 6 to 10 p.m. Aged 24 and under only.