Annex Education staff had a busy October! In between starting out of school time groups and planning for our other groups, we took the time to attend and support Q-Quest. Q-Quest, a conference and festival for queer youth and allies, took place at South High School Thursday, October 29th and Friday, October 30th. Annex staff helped with the event, tabled for the Annex, brought youth to the event, and provided free, confidential STI testing. This unique event provides a safe space for youth to talk about issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. There was a chance for high school aged youth to caucus about important issues, like decreasing bullying, as well as workshops on a variety of topics, including one on communication by the Annex’s very own Chelle! Q-Quest is also a celebration, so it included a whole lot of fun and offered youth a chance to share their poetry, songs, and dance moves at open mics.
For me, as an organizer of the event, the most meaningful experience, the one that really made me feel like the event was a success, was watching youth come forward to the open mic to share their personal struggles. These youth felt so supported and safe that they got up in front of hundreds of people, most of whom they didn’t know, and shared deeply personal stories. We need more spaces where queer youth can share, and hear experiences of others who have experienced discrimination, isolation, and feeling misunderstood. This is work that Annex staff in both the clinic and education department does daily, and as such, we understand how important it is to partner with youth to enact change and work to not only create equitable communities, but communities that celebrate all individuals and identities.