There wasn’t anyone alone at the 16th Youth Pride Day held in Dupont Circle. The words queer and gay were celebrated.
Youth Pride Alliance volunteer, Kinsey Holloway says as a queer person she knows how important this would have been for her as a youth.
“This is really important because youth need to have a safe place and a place to come to as a community,” Holloway said. “To see people that look like them and don’t, but identify.”
Youth full of L.G.B.T. pride pranced around on a stage set up in the traffic circle within the neighborhood. Performers dressed in costumes and wigs and some in similar outfits competed in a dance competition. In order to win the competition the winner had to complete a project of empowerment that demonstrated they have inspired their community and empowered himself or herself.
After her pefromance, 21-year-old Slyvanna Davel says youth in the city have to work to better themselves and the community they live in.
“No one will be able to knock you down, if you know who you are,” Davel said.
The event is held every year by the Youth Pride Alliance. Christopher Dyers founded the all-volunteer run non-profit organization in 1996. It seeks to empower youth and encourage positive self-development and expression.
Next to the fountain were booths set up by other non-profits that support the L.G.B.T. community. Metro TeenAids talked with attendees about safe sex practices and held free HIV-testing. One booth had attendees hold up hand-written signs supporting or expressing how proud they were to be gay while snapping photos of them.
Lissett Gamez, 17 says having a lot of L.G.B.T. friends has opened her up to experiences like Youth Pride Day. She says you meet people from many backgrounds that are open-minded.
The youth wore their rainbow colors proudly. The event ended with about 7 people lip singing to show who was the fiercest of them all and attendees stepping to popular song “Cha-Cha slide.”
Eric Jones, student at Duke Ellington stood with a group of friends laughing after he finished his cha-cha. He says though he is proud everyday, it means something to be at an event as Youth Pride Day.
“Being here means your happy gay and you show it,” Jones said. “Being gay means being yourself.