Each day in our Youth Services Programs, we’re reminded of the exceptional strength, resilience, and compassion of our LGBTQ youth. They’ve grown up facing derision and, in many cases, even faced rejection from their families because of who they are. Yet with a community of supportive peers, they continue to shine.
Their defiant joy and pride in their identities takes on even greater significance in the wake of tragedies like the Orlando massacre at Pulse Nightclub. We’re confronted again with the need to fight for basic human rights and safety for our LGBTQ family.
“We have provided a space for youth to process the mass shooting and continue to give them the support they need to cope with fear and emotions,” said Amy Wilkerson, Director of Youth Services. “During small group discussions about the event and its impact on the community, many youth have expressed anger and also fear that this could happen here in New York if bigotry and discrimination continue unchecked.”
During a candlelight vigil for those who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting, youth spoke out for their hopes for a more peaceful future.
“I hope that we remember not to take life for granted,” said Alicia, one of the youth attending the event. “I hope we can all come together as one team,” said another.
During pride, and all year-round, we are proud to stand by our LGBTQ youth, families, and staff. We’re proud to create safe spaces where they can pursue their goals without fear and doubt.
“In the darkest times of my life, the youth center has been the place to light the path for me to follow, in order to find my own light to shine,” said Jacqueline, one of the youth at our pride celebration.
We’re proud to advocate for the rights of all whom we serve, and we’re proud to celebrate diversity at every opportunity.
Take a look at some of our favorite moments from this Pride Month and help us make sure that #LoveWins.