Celebrating Pride with our Youth and Staff
by Sierra Gonzalez, Group Program Coordinator
The month of June brings joy to a lot of people for a variety of different things. For some, it is the start of summer vacation and summer camps or maybe it is time for that cruise the family has been planning all year. For a special community, June brings a sense of freedom and a whole lot of fun: Pride Month! Usually, we throw a huge Pride party at Friends of the Children–Portland and join in the PDX Pride celebrations at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This year, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we had to find different ways to celebrate Pride Month.
Recently, there has been the cultivation of an affinity group for our LGBTQ+ self-identified staff. This group has been working hard, together with the Group Programming staff, to bring education and opportunities that will engage our whole community! Earlier this month, we viewed the movie, “Sate of Pride,” and had a fruitful discussion after the movie. Discussion included finding new ways to support LGBTQ+ staff and identifying new resources within our community. We recognize that this is an ongoing conversation that we will continue at Friends of the Children - Portland and will identify action steps our community can take to make sure LGBTQ+ youth and staff are celebrated year-round, not just in June.
Our community was beyond lucky to host its very FIRST Drag Queen Story Hour! We had two amazing performers join a Zoom call with our youth and staff and perform some super fun music and read two books related to the LGBTQ+ community. Story hour started with the fabulous Ruby Q reading, When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff. The story explores the journey of a young transgender boy named Aidan who will be welcoming a younger sibling to the family. Aidan has concerns about becoming an older sibling, but he knows that the most important thing about being a big brother is to love them with his whole heart. We continued with the talented Matt Katz leading us in some inspiring tunes on the keyboard. We learned the ASL sign for the word “proud” and “applause” so we could show everyone when we were feeling proud of who we were! The second book we read with Ruby Q was, Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution. by Rob Sanders. We were able to go back in time and rise with historic leaders like Marsha P. Johnson or Sylvia Rivera. We ended with “Easing on Down the Road,” with Matt Katz to go out and spread love to all in our community!
To end Pride month, we put together care package to be delivered to our youth (with proper safety and social distancing) that included LGBTQ+ resources, arts and crafts activities, and social justice themed curriculum. We feel it is important to highlight the intersectionality of marginalized communities during this current social climate. Some items included in the care packages were; political posters of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, pronoun buttons for our youth to be able to display with pride what pronouns they identify with, and Pride flag stickers with a color key to explain what each color of the flag represents.
This is only one out of twelve months to celebrate LGBTQ+ people. The Group Programming staff at Friends of the Children - Portland will continue the work of providing education to our youth and staff on various social issues, identities, and similarities. We are a community of so many different colors, shapes, and sizes, it is important that everyone has a chance to be celebrated as the unique and beautiful person they were born to be!