Many new and unexpected community members, ranging from ages 13 to 21, crowded together to watch a movie at the youth pride’s second event of the year held on June 12, 2015.
“I did not dress to meet new people! I didn’t think that there was going to be this many new people here so I just wore track pants, then Dave Levac shows up,” said Mikayla Hughes, one of the four youth pride council members.
According to Ken Giesen and Janet MacMillan, the founders of Brantford’s youth pride committee, last year’s attendance consisted mostly of volunteers and friends who were asked to come out and support.
“I was joking last year, there was probably fifteen people; and ten people were volunteers or on the committee, so there were maybe five new faces,” said Giesen.
MacMillan went on to explain that the sexual orientation of those who attended the event was unknown and unimportant; everyone was welcome. MacMillan believed the positive turnout meant that the committee’s impact continues to grow stronger.
Brantford Pride received continuous complaints regarding the lack of youth specific events. Before the youth pride committee was established in 2013, local pride events were exclusive to people aged 19 plus. Giesen, MacMillan and Hughes all experienced the same motivation to make the changes that would resolve these complaints.
Hughes Facebook messaged Brantford Pride asking to start a group based on creating events for younger youth. She expressed that many events involved age groups starting from a very young age to 13 years old, and then starting again at age 18.
“There’s really nothing for that in-between group,” said Hughes.
Four youth council members run the Youth Pride Committee. Giesen and MacMillan explained that they are solely on the council to act as support. They act as the adult supervision for events, and handle the jobs that youth would not know how to do, such as booking the event space.
When asked what pride meant to them, there was a common theme of acceptance amongst the council members.
“For some people it’s the one time in the year where they feel comfortable being themselves,” said Giesen.
Giesen and MacMillan expressed their excitement to witness the youths creating connections, and forming a sense of community amongst themselves despite the fact that the majority of them had never met before.
Giesen hopes to set up a connection with Wilfrid Laurier Brantford in order to involve their committee with the campus, stating that he has reached out to a Laurier professor in hopes to set up future events.