October 11, 2018 at 1:26 am EST | by Joey DiGuglielmo
SMYAL forms new area youth Pride committee
Youth Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Youth Pride (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON — SMYAL has formed a new Regional Youth Pride Committee comprised of D.C., Maryland and Virginia LGBT youth 13-21 to “come together and plan a youth-driven, youth-focused Pride celebration.”

The group will meet monthly to plan smaller events culminating with a youth Pride-type event. Applications are currently being accepted. SMYAL is reaching out to area youth through D.C. public schools, area charter and private schools and other avenues through which SMYAL gets in touch with teens for its various activities such as Activist Camp, its Youth Leadership Award Scholarships and more. SMYAL is working with Capital Pride on the committee.

“As youth come out younger and younger and use technology to connect with peers across the region, there are more opportunities for LGBTQ youth to develop programming that crosses traditional boundaries,” SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir said in an e-mail. “Regional Youth Pride is equipping young people with the resources to develop and roll out new youth-led programming.”

He also said the committee is “an outgrowth” of the kind of work SMYAL already does both on its own and with other agencies in the region such as Arena Stage, The Trevor Project and more.

So why is this agency forming when D.C. already has a Youth Pride? Shakir didn’t say exactly but The Youth Pride Alliance — the agency behind D.C. Youth Pride — has been difficult to reach in recent years and hasn’t updated its website (youthpridealliance.org) in more than a year. Its homepage has no 2018 information available and is still plugging its last event, held in Dupont Circle on Oct. 7, 2017.

For years, the volunteer-run Alliance (founded in 1996) held Youth Pride annually every May. It was bumped to October in 2017. Sarah Blazucki, board secretary, said a fall 2018 event was tentatively planned but the board is now hoping to move it back to spring 2019 instead.

“We’re looking at April or May,” Blazucki said in an e-mail. “We are trying to reserve the date in the next month.”

Youth Pride Alliance board President Nikisha Carpenter sent a brief statement by e-mail.

“Youth Pride Alliance and SMYAL have partnered in the past and hope to continue,” she said.

Shakir said he hopes to have the Committee in place by mid-November with 10 youth and three adult, non-SMYAL staff members. They hope to have three-four events planned by January, one each in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. They plan a Pride-type event with the Capital Pride Alliance in late spring/early summer 2019.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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