Badpuppy Gay Today

Tuesday, 01 July 1997

YOUTHS -25 & UNDER TO ATTEND ISSUES CONFERENCE

2nd Annual Nationwide Event Hosted in San Francisco Schoolhouse
Organized by and for Lesbi-Gay-Bi-Trans & the Questioning Young


Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday

 

Converging at Everett Middle School in San Francisco on July 12 and 13, over 500 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth will attend the Second Annual Young Loud & Proud Youth Leadership Conference.

Looking to surpass the surprise success of the 1996 event, conference planners set out to incorporate many new dimensions, hoping to build more unified leadership experiences for conference participants. The conference, which is free of charge for participants, will offer various workshops and caucuses on a variety of issues pertinent to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth community, and is being organized by and for young people.

The committee expects the many hundreds of young men and women, aged 25 and under, to come from as far away as Canada, San Diego and Philadelphia, as well as from the San Francisco Bay Area. Workshops already scheduled include "How to Get a Job Without Compromising Yourself," "Starting a Gay-Straight Alliance at Your School," and "If Only I Were Cute: Body Image in the Gay Community."

Steering Committee member Steve Scott-Diaz said, "It's important for young people to know that they are empowered; that they do have the ability to make positive social change. We are leaders now and for the future, and conferences like this allow us to develop the skills we will need to fulfill our roles as advocates, educators and activists."

In addition to the workshops and caucuses, several ongoing activities will provide participants chances to relax and socialize, including a large dance Saturday evening. All the committee members are enthusiastic about the event. Steering Committee member Jayme Peta said, "We have created an event where youth are utilizing and organizing resources for ourselves and our community. We recognize the ongoing issues which gay youth constantly face, but feel that in facing them together, conference staff and participants will come away more effective leaders for today and the future."

In her book, Joining the Tribe (Anchor Books, Doubleday) a discussion of what it is like to grow up gay or lesbian in the 90's, author Linnea Due writes that she soon discovered that the gay community--in any of its many guises--has "remarkably little reach into the daily lives of those (young people) who will soon join it."

Of gay teenagers she writes: "As the gap widens between how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived, the leap becomes harder to make. Gay teens are steeped in the heterosexist reality--most know nothing else, and what they think they know about gay life is derived from a sarcastic language of stereotypes and jokes, often expressed by their parents or friends."

"No wonder they're ambivalent about climbing that wall," says Ms. Due, "and that when they finally do reach the other side, they're eager to leave behind memories of their own confusion and hurt. It's tempting when you've 'landed' to forget that there are plenty more who have not."

In last week's portrait (See GayToday's Archives, People features) of the legendary lesbian and gay activist, Barbara Gittings, GayToday's editor explained that Ms. Gittings' lifelong motivation as a strategist and as a cutting edge social-justice pioneer was her hope she might make life easier for teens so they wouldn't have to face the unhappiness and confusion she knew as a teen in the early 1950's.

"With youth conferences such as this," said Jack Nichols, referring to the forthcoming conference, "meetings organized and propelled by young gay men and lesbians themselves, we're seeing a new and very important evolutionary or revolutionary step.

"Pioneers like this year's Co-Grand Marshall of New York's Heritage of Pride parade, Barbara Gittings, started as a young woman and worked over 15 years as head of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force of the American Library Association in order to guarantee a flow of provocative lesbian and gay literature for younger people so they'd realize they're not alone, and could freely and wisely build their own unique same-sex-oriented--and value- conscious identities.

"A pioneer of the last century, Edward Carpenter, said that maturing gay men and lesbians can't be expected to show love's best side to the world if all around are people who forever insist same-sex love is unseemly. Certifying that gay teens have all they need to access the best wisdom and to grow up happily, should concern all of us no matter how old we get. Last year's youth conference was an unexpected success, so this one will probably be even better, preparing for future generations of revolutionary same-sex friends and long-time companions.

"This next generation (See current GayToday 'Interview' with Dan Woog, a high school teacher ) is truly taking its own destiny into its own hands. Brave New World youths have started organizing high school alliances with straights, even, recreating their lives--as a group-- earlier than have previous generations, maturing as people minus old fears and misgivings. Its inspiring because its clear many youths are beginning to realize that self-love and happiness have a much better chance if tough questions get asked first and satisfy in their wake a thirst for more and more knowledge."

The San Francisco Conference will take place July 12-13 at Everett Middle School. It is to be hosted by Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC) 127 Collingwood Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Phone 415.703.6150 Fax 415.703.6153 Email lyric@thecity.sfsu.edu Contact: Joseph Rios

1997 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
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