Teen pride creates inclusive community for youth

Festival offers LGBTQ+ teens opportunities


Sadie Yarosh

Show some pride: A Teen Pride volunteer serves free Chipotle to Pride attendees. The Teen Pride event was June 1 at Loring Park. The celebration included many booths and activities, informing people about the LGBTQ+ community. Pride will be June 22-23 at Loring Park.

After attending Twin Cities Pride last year, junior Isaac Wahl said he found the courage to come out because of support he felt from the community.

“For me personally, Pride is what made me come out as bisexual,” Wahl said. “I have always known that I was bisexual, but going to Pride made me feel like it was OK to talk to people about it, because everyone else there was so accepting of it and of me.”

Teen Pride, which took place June 1, helps teens find a community, according to Wahl.

“A great thing about normal Pride (is) that it involves all age groups, like I have seen 4-year olds, and I have seen elderly couples,” Wahl said. “I think Teen Pride is really good because it is so hard to find that kind of community for teens, especially because a lot of teens struggle with reaching out.”

Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) adviser Kyle Sweeney said Teen Pride offered a chance for teens to celebrate their identity.

“Pride is such a huge event now, and I think it’s more of a community event, not just for LGBTQ folks. Teen Pride is more specifically for teens who are LGBTQ,” Sweeney said.

According to Sweeney, in addition to meeting new people, Teen Pride gives teens the support and community they lack at their own schools.

“Other kids from schools that might be more isolated would get a chance to see that there are people out there just like them that are dealing with the same things,” Sweeney said.

Senior Chris Schons said Teen Pride offers a great opportunity for students at Park and greater Twin Cities area to feel accepted.

“I think (Teen Pride) is a great thing. It’s a great opportunity for people especially at our school and in the middle school. It’s a really ac- cepting place. People are free to be themselves,” Schons said.

Wahl said when he attended Pride, he felt very welcomed and he believes others will too.

“People who maybe don’t feel accepted in so- ciety as it functions normally, they can go to Pride and feel very loved and accepted regardless of their sexuality, or their gender identity, all those things. I definitely felt the love,” Wahl said.

Despite progress, the LGBTQ+ community continues to face discrimination and hardships, according to Sweeney.

“There’s still some people that think being gay or being trans is not real or not OK. And although LGBTQ+ people have a lot more rights, there’s still violence against us and laws against us. We want to show who we are, that we’re just regular people and celebrate who we are,” Sweeney said.

Teen Pride gives students the opportunity to meet other LGBTQ+ teens in a safe environment, according to Sweeney.

“It’s good for teens to meet other teens. Within St. Louis Park there’s different pockets of kids who want to attend an event like this, they all know each other, so it might be good for them to meet people from other schools,” Sweeney said.

Wahl said Pride is not just a space for people in the LGBTQ community, anyone who wants to support the community can attend.

“If you are straight or don’t identify with the LGBTQ community you can still go to Pride and be an ally. It is not just a place for people in the community, others can come too,” Wahl said. “Whether or not you are x, y or z, Pride is a place where everyone can go. Everyone is accepted and loved. Don’t be afraid.”