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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.

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Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cazares.

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.”

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Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cazares.

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.

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Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Cazares.

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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