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Dance helps LGBT youths gain confirmation

By Dae Elliott | South Bay Alliance

South Bay Alliance is proud to have worked in conjunction with Mar Vista High’s Gay/Straight Alliance to bring the Sweetwater High “Lost in Wonderland, Glow in the Dark” district-wide dance on April 21. DJ Iredance provided the music that kept 60 youth dancing all night. This is an all-around community effort to create not merely an accepting special annual dance for our LGBT youth and their friends, but a celebration of our diversity. Proceeds from the dance will be donated to the True Colors Fund.

As with South Bay Pride, recognizing the need for affirming with such events in our own neighborhood of South San Diego County is extremely important. Many of us live in parts of San Diego where we feel affirmed, others live in parts where we feel reasonably safe, and still others, with as much progress as we have made, feel it is risky to be our authentic selves. Our youth are even more susceptible to feeling this pressure to conform within our heteronormative culture.

There are still people who bully, disdain, reject, and assault our LGBT youth right here in San Diego County. In many cases, our youth do not know if even their families will accept them. Our GSA’s have worked wonders in the schools and yet LGBT youth are overrepresented in the homeless population. The Williams Institute reports 40 percent of the homeless youth identify as LGBT. The Trans community feels the stigma even more harshly which contributes to far more suicide attempts (five to six times the amounts found in the population at large).

This dance and the work of our local GSA’s are examples of community-based activism. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” (Maya Angelou). Our youth are stepping up to change it. They need to be supported in their endeavors. It is by facing the challenges of making change, both the failures and triumphs, that create our leaders of tomorrow. As both the executive chair of South Bay Alliance and a sociologist at SDSU, I know we have many leaders within our midst with that ‘can do’ attitude. The MVH GSA students are a great example. I am also extraordinarily grateful to MVH’s Gay/Straight Alliance advisory teacher, June Rogers, for her efforts in cultivating this incredible bunch of young people to step into our shoes and march towards the future. Kudos to all of you!

Mishelle Banaga is putting on a ‘fun’raiser to help keep SBPRIDE2018 a free event. Mishelle’s B’day Bash fundraiser is on May 20 from 12–8 p.m. Regina Styles is our emcee. The bands that will be playing are Ingénue, Veronica May, Network, Girl in the Middle, The Real Fake News, The Social Animal, and Karina Frost & the Banduvloons. To all of these great bands, thank you for your generosity and time. I love how the community reaches out to make this happen every year. Admission is free but we will be selling you burgers, veggie burgers, hotdogs, and all sorts of sides. We will also have drinks available (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Thank you, Kim, for lending us your gorgeous yard in Point Loma to have the party. Bring your chairs. She suggested using Uber or Lyft since parking will be limited (and also, then you don’t have to worry about driving home)! Sister Ida will be handing out opportunity prize tickets that will be given out throughout the day. All proceeds will go towards South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival.

And finally, mark your calendars: SBPRIDE 2018 is Sept. 8.

— Dae Elliott is a founding executive committee member and the current executive director of South Bay Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and organizer of the annual South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival. Contact her at southbayalliance@gmail.com.

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