Youth Pride, Inc.

May 3, 2011 in Youth Pride, Inc.

There is certainly never a dull moment on Chestnut Street, as we at Youth Pride, Inc. (YPI) move excitedly deeper into spring and a step closer to summer. Naturally, with summer coming, thoughts turn to the annual Pride Celebration! What better way to kick off that month than YPI’s annual talent show and fundraiser, YP Idol. This year you can expect to see a bit more than our incredibly talented young people!! We will be featuring amazing local talent who support YPI and our efforts all year long. Providence-born hip hop artist Jon Hope has been added to the playbill, and the hilarious Doreen Collins will be our emcee for the night. Of course, the lovely LaDiva Jones and the fabulous Ms. Kitty Litter will be our judges, with many more names to be announced. Tickets are $5 for students (with ID) and $10 for the rest of our fantastic supporters. The show is on Friday, June 3rd at 7 p.m., at Beneficent Church, on Weybossett St. For more information, or to make a donation, contact Kristen: Kristen@youthprideri.org.

Everyone has heard by now about the commotion over the Tiverton High School GSA, spurred by comments from Representative Dan Gordon. GSA founder Cynda Martin sees the bright side of his outwardly aggressive comments:

“Even though his comments hurt me personally — as well as members of the GSA, our advisor Mr. Forrest, and the school administration — I can’t exactly say I’m mad at him for it. Because of his arrogance and ignorance, he has opened up a lot of opportunities for the GSA and the school. Since his first comment on the GSA, we’ve had people from radio stations, news channels and newspapers and even from MTV, who have asked to speak with us and get our story out there. This experience has helped me tremendously. Before this whole storm, I was a shy person who liked to sit in the back of the classroom and do nothing. Now I’ve become this person who isn’t so shy and quiet, a person who stands up for what she believes in. I’m not afraid to speak up anymore.

“Not only has this become a great experience for me, but for the group as well. Since this all started, we’ve become so close that we’re practically family. Without knowing it, Rep. Gordon has created a tight-knit family. We can count on one another for everything. We listen, we talk, and we are there for each other. I feel closer to them than I have to anyone before. So, despite his hurtful words, a lot of good has come out of this. I just hope he can man up and apologize to the group and those he has offended. Maybe he can get a bit of education as well, so that he may learn about what it is a GSA actually does, what we’re here for.”

YPI youth and intern Hailee Komrowski returned earlier in the month from Washington D.C. on a trip sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), showing youth the bigger picture of LGBTQQ issues and activism.

“When I arrived in Washington D.C., I was immediately welcomed and greeted by the warm and friendly faces of my fellow youth advocates. It didn’t take much time at all for me to quickly connect and make friends. Even after becoming friends it still felt surreal. These individuals represented the friends I always wished that I could have had during high school. They also felt like family to me. GLSEN gave us each the tools to advocate and represent our states and meet with our state representatives. I met with Senator Reed and his representative as well as Senator Whitehouse’s representative to express the importance of the Student Nondiscrimination Act and the Safe School Improvement Act. When the event was coming to the end it was heartbreaking. We were all there to express the critical importance of safe schools for youth regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression/identity. In an army of one you are very little, but in an army of many your voice is heard.

“As a transgender activist, the trip to Washington D.C. was one of my many dreams coming true. I felt that I made a connection with not only those youth, but also the staff and representatives. Every day people are tormented because they are gay or because they are just different. Blatantly disrespecting people based on their gender, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation is a horrible thing. I feel it is my responsibility as a proud and open transgender high school student to be the voice of those who are scared or who were permanently silenced because of intolerance and prejudice.”

Hailee learned some lessons we probably all could benefit from. Whether you’re supporting YP Idol, or being an ally for the folks in Tiverton who are fighting to keep their GSA alive despite the ignorance of others, let’s all echo Hailee’s enthusiasm: “I will continue to be the advocate that I never had growing up and will continue to inspire my peers. We are all beautiful in our own way, and it should be celebrated rather than shunned.”