In some ways it was a typical community gathering with music, burgers on the grill and games.
But for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and teens who are questioning their sexual orientation (LGBTQ) youth, the Aug. 7 second annual Anoka LGBTQ Youth Pride event offered resources, hope and fun.
After munching on hot dogs and burgers, the kids could explore the various games and art projects, including drawing, creating quilt squares and face painting, that were staged along the shoreline of the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.
The event has a lot of fun things for the youth, including working with the Young Artist Initiative, a game table provide by Atlas Games and a chance to try games sponsored by the high school theater department, said event coordinator Jefferson Fietek.
There were also several faith-based groups, LGBT organizations, homeless youth groups and other resource groups with booths, including the event’s corporate sponsor UCare, he said.
In addition to providing youth had a chance to see what groups are out there, the event also allowed the organizations to network with each other, Fietek said.
Based on the number of raffle tickets handed out, there were about 300 people at the event, Fietek said.
The feedback on the event was positive and one student said she loved the event because it gave her hope, he said.
Last year’s Youth Pride event was a response to the 2010 suicide of Justin Aaberg and several other gay teenagers in Anoka-Hennepin School District.
There were too many young people that felt they were not supported in their communities, Fietek said.
After seeing the negative portrayals of gays and lesbians in the media, they wanted to bring the community together for positive reasons, he said.
This event was created to bring the community together for positive reasons and give the youth a chance to see all of the people who support them and the services that are available to them, Fietek said.
Fietek said next year’s event will be on the second Tuesday of the month to avoid competing with Night to Unite, which keep some people from attending the Youth Pride event this year.
For information on the group, visit http://www.anokayouthpride.com/.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org