Oh Yes, It's OYES!
This past weekend on Saturday, May 6th, the City of Orlando put on its annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit event. The event is great -- it's a series of workshops geared toward young adults so that they can know more about LGBTQ+ issues and shape their skills as community leaders. It's put on by a host of sponsors, including GLSEN, Orlando Youth Alliance, and commissioner Patty Sheehan. This year, it was held in the Beardall Senior Center, just south of downtown Orlando.
The event had a huge turnout of over 100 young adults in attendance, and even more people were present as volunteers and table hosts! I remember seeing tables for the city's health department, Planned Parenthood, and more. It was great to see so many people interested in LGBTQ+ issues, especially youth who may not have access to similar workshops otherwise.
The workshops -- divided into three sessions, with multiple workshops each session -- were really diverse. I really enjoyed the variety of the topics, including "Untangling the Alphabet Soup" and another about reconciling religion and identity as an LGBTQ+ person. I enjoyed attending Two Spirit's workshop about transgender health and another workshop about the history of Orlando's LGBTQ+ community, something I've never actually seen before! It was fantastic and taught me a lot about how far back our fight goes.
For the last session, I hosted a workshop about youth leadership with two other young adult leaders, Neil and Violet. We discussed existing LGBTQ+ leaders from a national level to a local level, the different styles of leadership, and how we got into the roles we serve now. I talked about my role as GSA president for Valencia College's East Campus and how it led to my eventual role as a founder and coordinator for QLatinx, and they discussed their work creating a central Florida GSA network and building the Orlando Youth Alliance from the ground up, respectively. They were great partners and I see both going to far places in the future.
I'm sure OYES 2018 will be even greater and offer even deeper looks into what is affecting the modern LGBTQ+ community. If you want to become closer to the community in Orlando and become a future leader, I definitely recommend that you attend!