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The other side of the coin: Youth involvement in Pride

Wed 27 Jan 2016 In: Our Communities View at Wayback View at NDHA

Duncan Matthews, General Manager of RainbowYOUTH, responds to criticism that youth aren't stepping up for Pride. I had quite a strong reaction to the article titled “No youth stepping up to organise”, published on 23rd January in response to only three youth events being listed for the Auckland Pride Festival 2016. From what I see, young people are stepping up all the time, often without the soft landing many of us more experienced have to fall back on if we fail. Working at RainbowYOUTH, I am lucky to get to see and hear stories of young people stepping up most days. On Friday I walked past the No Pride In Prisons rally on Queen Street, lead by you people in their late teens and early twenties and attended by 150 people. The Love Life Fono, held in Ōtara, had a large attendance of young people, with them running a number of workshops throughout the weekend. In 2015 young people from RainbowYOUTH and Trans on Campus came together with GenderBridge to run a number of well attended events for Trans Week of Awareness. Looking outside of Auckland, my Facebook feed is filled with movie night and other fundraisers for InsideOUT, Naming NZ and other youth run organisations in Wellington. These are just a few examples from the last few months, and before mentioning ongoing commitments from the likes of the young creators of the Breaking Boundaries online space, or our facilitators who regularly run events and activities for group members. So are our young people failing for not organising events for the Auckland Pride Festival? Far from it, I believe. Young people are motivated and will work hard for something they believe in or see value in. On the flip side, I believe that young people care about the Auckland Pride Festival. Many I talk to are excited about walking in their first Pride Parade, but [speculating here] don’t see how they can add value to the rest of the festival. Events like Pink Shirt Day, that work to prevent homophobic bullying in schools, are a world apart from having an independant open invite event, publicly listed in the printed Pride Festival guide. Reviewing the list of events organised by young people above, the majority of them target friends, or communities (IRL and online) that young people are already part of. I think this speaks to the motivations of today's young people, something which is often left out of the narrative. My last question is, for what purpose do we want lots of youth events listed in the Pride Festival? First, lack of youth events does not equal lack of youth engagement, as highlighted in the 23rd Jan article there are plenty of other events young people can attend. Second, young people are already active and visible to a large extent within their own communities, such as at school, in arts collectives or at youth groups. Let's point out and celebrate the good things that young people do every day of the year, rather than criticising when they don’t do what we want them to do. In many cases, we need to up lift our young people with Pride, make it relevant to them, and let them develop their own sense of meaning and motivation behind being proud. Duncan Matthews General Manager, RainbowYOUTH Duncan Matthews - 27th January 2016    

Credit: Duncan Matthews

First published: Wednesday, 27th January 2016 - 12:42pm

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