Youth Pride Durham
Embrace, engage and empower LGBTQ2S+ youth
On May 27, community agencies came together to support LBGTQ+ youth, their family and allies with a free outdoor festival, Youth Pride Durham at the Durham CAS office. The event was the launch of Durham Pride Week and featured food, information from local organizations, glitter tattoos, cupcake decorating, a drum circle, a photo booth, a positive message board and some spectacular entertainment.
The event was an amazing day of fun and entertainment – with beautiful weather — but it was also time for the community to come together to support young people. There are youth who may be struggling or feel that they have no one to reach out to.
We were honoured when one mother, Christie, told us, “Thank you for putting on an amazing event! It meant the world to me. Youth Pride means that my trans son has a voice and belongs to a community who will love support and encourage his journey in the best way possible. It means he doesn’t have to be afraid of who he is becoming, or apologize for who he is.”
That is why we held this event.
The best part of the day was the entertainment. All of the performers spoke to the youth about how the community is there for them and their families regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Our headline entertainer was singer songwriter, Kate Reid, best described as “slam poetry meets folk music meets LGBTQ+ advocacy.” Kate works with students across Canada, including as part her graduate studies research on gender and sexual diversity in formal education. Kate has worked extensively with students locally through the Durham District School Board. Kate’s performance was a highlight of the day, empowering many with her songs and words of inspiration.
Another highlight was our emcee, drag queen, Sofonda. She was joined by fellow drag performers Jada Hudson and Wilma Checklear. Not only did they present a fabulous show, they also were an incredible inspiration to the youth. They spoke about the challenges they faced as youth, feeling that they lacked support from their community. They encouraged the youth to connect with the individuals and agencies at the event, letting them know that there is someone there for them.
We were also thrilled to have several youth performers join us, including the band AGES featuring emerging singer songwriter, Astrid Tanton, and the band Independent Puppets. Some local youth were also a fantastic addition to the day, including spoken word artist Indygo and singer TK.
Perhaps this comment from one youth, Jacob explains it best: “Attending Youth Pride was an amazing and empowering experience where I could see other youth and have a good time being myself.”
Durham CAS hosted the event along with the Durham District School Board, Durham Regional Police Service, Durham Children’s Aid Foundation, the City of Oshawa, Pride Durham, PFLAG Durham Region, Carea Community Health Centre, and the Regional Municipality of Durham – with financial support from TD Canada Trust.
Durham CAS has celebrated Pride month with events and flown the rainbow flag for over twelve years. Events have historically been focused on educational and celebratory initiatives for staff and for youth in care. We have also participated in several Durham Pride events over the years including the parade and festival. This year we expanded, and reached out to community partners who enthusiastically collaborated to launch Youth Pride Durham. On to planning for next year!
Join the conversation online with #YouthPrideDurham, #YPD2018 and #DurhamPride
To learn more about Pride Week events in Durham Region, please visit the Pride Durham Website.