SD Pride

LGBTQ+ youth in the US have had an especially rough year. State legislation restricting their right to talk openly about their identity at school has sparked national debate, increasing the pressures and hostility they often already face growing up.

The volunteers for San Diego’s annual Pride Festival have been there, and they know how tough it is. So they’re organizing the Youth Zone, a scaled-down version of the festival where middle- and high-school-age queer youth and their allies can have a social space to be themselves and connect. It’ll be open 11 a.m.–8 p.m. July 16 and 17, hosting outdoor games, dance parties in the evening, and fun and educational workshops, like How to Do Drag.

Cris Sotomayor (they/them), who oversees Pride’s youth programs, says they’ve had a great reception so far: “Young people reflect just how special it feels to have [events] created specifically for them, because they tend to be the last group included or asked about their opinion.” Both the Youth Zone and the parade’s Youth Marching Band are planned by youth volunteers, and more help is always welcome. There’s even a Children’s Garden for little ones and their parents.

Pride’s organizers often remark among themselves about how different their own teenage years could’ve been if more resources like this had been around. For Sotomayor’s part, they hope to pay it forward with the same feeling they had at their first San Diego Pride: “It was the first time I’d been in a space with a bunch of other trans, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary people, and I was so shook. I couldn’t believe we were all there just to celebrate ourselves, not to advocate or to protest. There was something powerful about finally finding your people.”

Digital Editor

Dan Letchworth is the copy chief of San Diego Magazine. His print column Dansplaining explores San Diego trivia, and his theater review blog Everyone’s a Critic was a finalist for best online column in the 2019 National City & Regional Magazine Awards.

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