What does queer youth in Seattle want? According to Queer Youth Space, they want a community space to call their own in Seattle and they want that space to be on Capitol Hill.
“Being queer is not a 21+ identity,” says Kyle Rapinan, a sophomore at the University of Washington and one of the group’s founders. “Which is how most people would associate the gay scene in Capitol Hill as.”
The conversation of creating a space for queer youth began stirring in early November, members of the group said. The next step was a Facebook fanpage. Then came the stickers, posters, a Web site at http://www.queeryouthspace.com and after a successful campaign which lead to a forum hosted by Seattle Central Community College called The Mutiny in late February, the conversation had finally begun getting attention in the community.
And while some might think that youth centers are “depressing and deserted,” QYS is making progress toward its goal of creating a place for gay young people on the Hill.
The group has received funding to continue its efforts — around $2,000 from King County to begin organizing and to create pilot programs. They’ve also gotten the attention of the Pride Foundation that awarded them a
$500 $5,000 grant.
Their first pilot program is scheduled for next Saturday at Club Diamond near Seattle Center for an open mic night.
There are now over 1,700 members on the Facebook page, weekly meetings at the shelter house in Cal Anderson Park and support from prominent adult members of the LGBTQ community, such as Three Wings, a nonprofit organization that the group says it relies heavily on for support.
QYS is currently in the process of writing its second grant with the City of Seattle. The money will help them continue their cause and fund pilot events until they can afford to develop a permanent space for their activity.
“We need a space for people to feel comfortable in,” said Hanna King, a member of the group. “Safe space encourages self-expression, and the physical nature allows youth to really invest in it.”
QYS is currently accepting pledges on their site, volunteer hours from professional services in the community as well as cash. Their next pilot program will be a Pink Prom in May. Look for more details on their site and Facebook page or check out their Twitter feed.
Though they are a long time from opening up their own space, QYS is already achieving some of its goal.
“We’ve always created space wherever we go,” said Rapinan. “Even if that means jamming by myself to Lady Gaga.”