Pride 101: West Valley Youth Volunteers Discuss the Dos and Don’ts of Pride
By Avi Vieira
With Phoenix Pride around the corner, the energy and excitement for the festivities was high in West Valley. Having had previous discussions of the origins and development of the Pride movement, West Valley one•n•ten decided to do something a little different this year: discuss the festival itself and how to stay safe, empowered, and genuine; all while having a good time with the greater LGBTQ community. Rather than having staff and volunteers lead the discussion, West Valley’s junior officers, the Youth Volunteers Nicholas Ingram, Michael Soal, and Sabre Collins took command while the senior staff and volunteers stepped back for the night. Without missing a beat, the presenters began by asking the group who had been to Pride and what their overall impressions were. Answers ranged from the heat that is typically associated with the festival, to the length of the parade. While there were many positive statements about Pride and all the information, activities, and entertainment; there was also some mention of questionable behavior of others who attend, leading to the topic of staying safe.
The youth were reminded that while Pride is a fantastic time to connect with others in the community, it is still a large public festival, and with such comes risk, particularly for youth and young adults. The group was given some practical advice to maintain a fun experience while also avoiding dangerous or simply unsavory elements. Safety was covered broadly in the conversation, covering personal safety, sexual health, and even remembering to use sunblock and take water. The buddy system–simple, yet effective–was something that was reiterated several times to the youth as the best way to avoid trouble. And all youth were reminded to join one•n•ten’s Youth Zone, both as a safe space, as well as a place to find snacks, water, and fantastic entertainment.
From a volunteer’s perspective, it was amazing to see our Ensigns step up and lead the group this night, and all seemed completely natural in the way they were able to present the most relevant information, in ways their peers could connect with. It was a powerful reminder of the work one•n•ten does in promoting youth to discover their own voices and allow them to step up into leadership positions such as this. They are indeed the next generation of leaders in our community, and this was a pleasant and welcome moment to remember when our youth first took charge and led everyone to something great.