Youth Pride began five years ago while I was still president of Worcester Pride. The youth wanted their own programming and dance, since they didn’t have a place to go after the Pride celebration in the park. It has blossomed since then. I spoke with the current leader, Nathan Manna.
“In seventh grade, I came out as gay and was bullied because of that. It was terrible, and I ended up leaving the school system. This was where I first felt urgency to change the world and make it a better place for people like me,” Manna said.
“When I joined Worcester Youth Pride last summer, I didn’t really consider the possibilities at first. I thought just a single event was wonderful and totally needed. Then, last September, our chair, Leanne Quackenbush, stepped down, and I was elected into the position. This May, we held the first queer prom in the area, and it was a huge success! We had over 90 youth attend; it was actually our biggest event to date. Seeing all of them comfortable and partying was amazing, and I can hardly put it into words. I realized at this point, cleaning up and taking the decorations down from the prom, that Worcester Youth Pride could be so much more. Last month, Youth Pride was recognized as an official subcommittee of Worcester Pride and given an even greater mandate than just a single event a year. Now, we’re planning and creating events throughout the year so that the youth – our future – can find a space to flourish and be themselves.”
The current president of Worcester Pride, Peter Bacchiocchi, said, “Five years ago, Worcester Pride initiated a youth committee to focus on the needs of the youngest in our community. LGBTQ youth are among the most vulnerable in our community, yet they also represent our future. Under the leadership of Leanne Quackenbush, and now Nathan Manna, Worcester Youth Pride has flourished and created an identity to best serve the youth in our great community”
The current goals for Youth Pride include our annual September dance, now in its fourth year. This dance started it all, and it’s been the only space for people younger than 21 to express themselves after the festivities of Worcester Pride. This year, the dance is at the YWCA on Salem Street and will be from 6-10:30 p.m. Differing from most years, though, we changed the age range. Worcester is a college town, and we wanted to figure a way to include college students in the fun, so this year, the age range is 16-22. There is a strict no alcohol/drugs policy, and we will have a coat check to prevent any prohibited items from getting into the event.
When asked about what Youth Pride means to her, Maykenzie Joy Freeman said, “I’ve never felt more proud of who I am than when working with Youth Pride. The love and strength I feel around me while working to better the LGBTQ+ community is so powerful. Worcester Youth Pride helps me to believe that our future is truly colorful. There’s a light on the horizon, and the realm of possibility is the most breathtaking landscape.”
Find out more about Worcester Youth Pride Committee with a quick search on Facebook, Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you proud of something in the LGBTQ+ community? If so, email me about it! John@JohnArt.com.