On Saturday, October 12, 2013 teens and young adults from across New England will gather on the campus of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government to develop life skills, discuss critical social issues and deepen their knowledge of resources and opportunities at HBGC’s third annual LGBTQ Youth Empowerment Conference (YEC).
The conference, which takes place from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. includes workshops on topics such as health and wellness, identity and intersectionality, the arts, and movement building and a resource fair with information about programs, services, events and organizations geared toward LGBTQ youth of color. Lead youth conference organizers Lindsey Allen and Diego Heuerta agree that gatherings like the YEC are crucial for queer youth of color to feel a sense of belonging and unity as they work to achieve their goals and address the social issues and injustices that impact their lives.
Huerta was motivated to volunteer as a YEC lead youth organizer by the many barriers queer youth of color face in society.
“LGBTQ youth of color face a disproportionate amount of stressors and issues and I believe that events like these are extremely important in helping create a sense of community,” he says.
Allen agrees. “Community is such an important part of life. Youth deserve a place to belong, to be heard, and to feel safe which is a goal of the conference,” she says.
“If nothing else, participants should want to ask more questions about one’s self and the world around them. I hope participants come out of the day energized and confident after seeing supportive outlets within their community,” she continues.
The conference will offer more than 20 workshops, including:
— Media Training for LGBT Youth
— New Identities, New Experience
— Pop, Dip & Spin Vogue Workshop
— Dating Abuse: How to Help A Friend
— Privilege, Disparity & the Health of Our Communities (a workshop led by YEC lead sponsor BAGLY)
— I Have Something to Tell You: Coming Out to Parents/Caregivers (a workshop led by YEC lead sponsor Greater Boston PFLAG)
The full YEC conference schedule, workshop descriptions and event details are available online at www.HBGC-Boston.org. Youth and young adults under the age of 25 can also register for the conference online via HBGC’s website.
This year’s keynote address will be delivered by writer Mia McKenzie, creator of Black Girl Dangerous, an online blog and forum that “seeks to...amplify the voices, experiences and expressions of queer and trans* people of color.” McKenzie is a queer black feminist writer whose novel The Summer We Got Free was awarded the 2013 Lambda Literary Award. Her work has been published in The Guardian, Colorlines, and quoted on The Melissa Harris Perry Show.
“I’m thrilled to present the keynote at the 3rd Annual LGBT Youth of Color Empowerment Conference in Boston this year and to have this opportunity to connect with so many amazing youth,” says McKenzie. “Queer youth of color are so important to the work that Black Girl Dangerous does. As some of our most ardent fans, their readership is a big part of why BGD has grown so fast. We wouldn’t be what we are without them.”
After the conference, youth are invited to The Network Social, the official conference after party, where they can enjoy food, friends and fun.
The Youth Empowerment Conference (YEC) is the cornerstone of HBGC’s youth development programming. Combining the safe space and community building elements of the organization’s high school gay-straight alliances (GSAs) with the advocacy and activism approaches offered through the New Leader’s Institute, the conference encourages youth to gain skills, knowledge, connections and solidarity to create personal and social change.