We kicked things off with our 2nd Annual Campus Pride Parade. This new tradition began as a pandemic-era adaptation: when we couldn’t bring kids to the parade in the city, we brought the parade to us. Each cottage received a decorating kit containing streamers, balloons, flags, markers, and more. The youth used these supplies to decorate our fleet of vans, which served as parade “floats.” Eight packed vans holding more than 50 kids wound their way through campus as horns honked and onlookers cheered. In the words of Dr. Leah Hallow, the parade’s organizer, “for our LGBT kids it’s a chance to feel seen and appreciated. And for those who aren’t, it’s a chance to learn and support.” News 12 even covered the parade in the evening news!
As dusk set on the warm summer evening of the 11th, a number of staff from across the agency met up for the Brooklyn Pride Parade, carrying a JCCA banner down 5th Avenue. The joyous and lively twilight march marked JCCA’s first official participation in the Brooklyn Parade.
On the 22nd, our LEAP program held a very fun Pride party at JCCA’s Brooklyn offices. Despite rainy weather, a number of young people came out to tie-dye shirts to wear in an upcoming parade and take silly photos in the picture booth. The kids also came away with Pride goodie bags containing rainbow flags, pronoun buttons, and more.
To cap off the month, JCCA’s LGBTQIA+ Committee held a panel called “Pride: Stories of Struggles and Successes.” The Zoom event was attended by over 70 staff members and consisted of riveting and candid presentations by members of our community of a range of issues: coming out during the AIDS crisis, navigating trans identity in the early 2000s, lessons learned in the trenches of LGBT organizing and activism, the joy and community found in queer sports leagues, and the history of gay family formation in the US.
In an exciting bit of Pride-related news, Seven Caldwell, a young trans man from Liberation Diploma Plus High School, recently won a Shark Tank-style competition in which teens envision and pitch community projects. Seven’s successful pitch was for an LGBT community center that would provide a safe space for youth who need support with gender identity and educate adults on how to accept and acknowledge gender differences. The center will be established this summer on the Liberation campus and funding will be sought for a permanent location. Congrats Seven!
And in case you missed it, JCCA CEO Ron Richter offered a personal Pride reflection earlier this month.