By Donna Boguslavsky, KYC Community Collaboration Project Associate
The Community Collaboration team was proud to represent the Kenneth Young Center (KYC) LGBTQ+ Center at the Pinta Pride Project’s Buffalo Grove Pride Drive event on Sunday, June 7th. Many expressed anxieties about the proposed “reverse” parade. How would it even work? Would people show up? Would there be backlash to the parade’s stance to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement? Despite the challenges and concerns, the day was a smooth ride for us involved, a genuine beautiful display of support from the community, and an undeniable success.
Preparations for the parade began a week ahead as LGBTQ+ Center staff, interns, and youth volunteers stuffed 500 rainbow bags with goodies from the Center, such as stickers that read You Are Beautiful, and handmade buttons saying “we are a safe space for you.”
Goodie bags weren’t the only feature that set the Kenneth Young Center parade stop apart. We were also one of a few places to have live music, starring our very own youth outreach workers, Greyson and Luka! The two played through their rehearsed 1‑hour set, but were happily surprised when the homeowner brought out his own amp and guitar and they continued the impromptu set for another hour.
The signs on our lawn featured art by Greyson of LGBTQ+ icons, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. Around them were signs that read: “where would pride be without black, brown, trans, women, disabled, poor, immigrant, & native activists?” and “tu lucha es mi lucha” (your struggle is my struggle). This message of solidarity and resistance against anti-blackness, transphobia, and anti-queerness was echoed by our shirts that read: “we’re here, we’re queer, together we thrive.”
Overall, the event was impactful for both the community, and KYC staff at the Algonquin Road office. Community residents from all over the Northwest suburbs were in attendance. Being part of the BG Pride Drive allowed KYC to show residents that our LGBTQ+ Center is here and ready to support youth, young adults, and their families, even during a pandemic. Additionally, participation in the event helped to affirm KYC’s Community Collaboration staff that identify as LGBTQ+ and show that KYC strives to be an organization where staff can be proud of who they are in front of their coworkers, if they choose. It was also very important for staff who identify as black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). To see the team standing up not only as heterosexual allies and LGBTQ+ advocates, but also as white and non-black POC allies validates that black and brown queer people of color belong here, deserve to be here, and need to feel safe. As one coworker stated, “I’ve never been more proud to work here.”
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