Black queer youth get new, unique opportunity to make their voices heard

For far too long, Black queer and trans youth have had their voices muffled. This new conference is here to change that.

The inaugural Black Identity Development Conference is bringing Black LGBTQ+ youth together for an event unlike any other. Organizations, such as Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, Youth Action Mentoring Network, BEAM, ClaYCounseling Solutions and more, are sponsoring the event that will center the intersections of Black queer youth. Through a variety of workshops, keynotes, and events, the Black Identity Development Conference is striving to create a space and offer tools to ensure that Black queer and trans youth feel supported, seen, and heard.

Speaking of keynotes, author and activist George M. Johnson, transgender activist, author, and artist Hope Giselle, speaker and performer BrandElsa Pereira, and scholar and practitioner Dr. Torie Weiston-Serdan, will all take the stage. Johnson, whose book All Boys Aren’t Blue became of one of the most banned books of 2023, preventing many Black LGBTQ+ youth from feeling seen in Johnson’s narrative. As someone who grew up without plenty of Black queer representation, Johnson recognizes the importance of the conference’s goal.

“As someone who grew up not seeing myself reflected in books, on TV, or even in my day to day community, I understand the importance in Black youth having visible images they can see, hear, and share experiences with,” Johnson stated for INTO. “Speaking at the Black Identity Development Conference allows us the space to do this work. Words activate people and Our voices help activate others to create the the societal changes necessary for a better future.”

Fellow keynote speaker Giselle feels the same. Giselle has been advocating for the LGBTQ+ community since her time at Alabama State University. Since then, she’s been a well sought after speaker, facilitator, and DEI specialist, and now she’s sharing her insight with Black queer and trans youth at the conference.

“Embracing our voices at the Black Identity Development conference is not just an opportunity; it’s a declaration,” said Giselle for INTO. “It’s a commitment to empower Black youth by weaving narratives that transcend adversity, fostering a tapestry of resilience, strength, and unity. Speaking here is not just sharing words; it’s igniting a flame that illuminates the path towards a more inclusive and empowered future.”

Along with these special guests, attendees will also get to check out performances by drag artists Jazmyn Simone, Amber St. James, and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Mayhem Miller.

A lack of representation plays a role in the development of Black LGBTQ+ youth’s mental health. The Trevor Project’s Black LGBTQ Youth Mental Health survey highlighted that, while Black queer and trans youth have similar rates of mental health disparities, there’s large discrepancy in them receiving professional care. With a lack of media representation being one of those factors, events like the Black Identity Development Conference is looking to combat this.

The Black Identity Development Conference launches on Saturday, February 24 and registration is open until February 15.

Photo credit: Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance
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