As part of a new provincewide initiative called Youth Line Loves Ontario, LGBT Youth Line is partnering with youth groups and queer-positive community agencies across Ontario to host social events for queer and trans youth who live in non-urban settings.
“What we’re trying to do with the project is look at different areas of Ontario that are not necessarily the most resourced for LGBT youth and help carry out a project for the youth of that whole county,” says Melissa Deleary, the community engagement coordinator for Youth Line. “The youth committee always decides what that looks like. In Barrie, it was a scavenger hunt and a music festival.”
The idea behind these events is to build local capacity for queer and trans programming, create social spaces for youth, encourage youth leadership and strengthen social and community networks. The project was inspired by a one-off event in Sudbury hosted by a Youth Line intern in 2009, and the organization’s next initiative is in Renfrew County on May 12.
The daylong event, taking place in Pembroke, is called Come As You Are, and it will feature a series of workshops on expressing positive sexuality, performing in drag, making your own comic and creating rainbow alliances. All workshops are open to youth 26 and under, and bus transportation will be provided from Arnprior, Renfrew and Ottawa the day of the event.
Come evening, there will be an all-ages dance party that’s open to the whole community.
“It’s designed to really cultivate a sense of community for everyone,” Deleary says. “To have couples of all ages come out and celebrate and have a safe and positive area to be themselves.”
The event is the first of its kind to happen in Pembroke.