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Creating Change Closing Plenary honors youth
Video below article
by Gretchen Rachel Hammond

This article shared 3715 times since Mon Jan 25, 2016
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The Closing Plenary of Creating Change Jan. 24 offered up performances and awards focused on LGBTQ youth and their allies.

In presenting the Paul A. Anderson Youth leadership Award to Chicago-based poet, painter, Windy City Times contributor and advocate for homeless and LGBTQ youth Kasey White, Task Force Senior Policy Counsel, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director Meghan Maury recalled coming-out experiences.

"For so many of us, our coming out stories can be a moment that's fraught with rejection, sometimes with violence, with stress, with tension," Maury said. "But we still do it because we're proud of who we are. Owning who we are makes us more able to advocate and live our true selves. I feel so awed by youth leaders owning their stories and acting on behalf of their communities."

White—whose experiences as a homeless youth were featured in the 2014 documentary The Homestretch—accepted the honor to a prolonged standing ovation.

They admitted that, when they were on the streets, they never imagined they would be standing "as an influential figure in the movement for Creating Change."

"I have said before I have never seen myself as a leader," White said. "And that it takes time to grow in me along the way. I owe a lot of that to [Windy City Times Publisher] Tracy Baim."

White pledged to continue their work lifting up others: "They need voices to speak up for them and guide them in a positive direction. I plan to keep doing that. I plan to keep being one of those active voices."

Some of those voices were reflected in a segment of Making Home presented by the Chicago-based Youth Empowerment Performance Project ( YEPP ) during the Creating Change weekend, and through Jan. 31 at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago.

The pain and defiant resiliency of trans and queer youth of color were reflected in a magnificent collage of song, movement and drama that was met with resounding applause.

The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals honored Director of Leadership Initiatives in the LGBTQ Equity Center at the University of Maryland Nick Sakurai with the Award for Outstanding Social Justice Practice.

Sakurai accepted the award from Consortium Co-Chair Dr. D.A. Dirks and Chair, Publications and Communication Zanata Rago-Craft.

"I stand before you not just as an individual but a member of many overlapping communities," Sakurai said. "Is it about justice or just us? It's easy to scream and call people out, destroy relationships and then burn out. It's also easy to become more radical than thou or to become a pompous pragmatist."

By illustration of what is instead possible through unity, Sakurai acknowledged his "girlfriends who are part of GURL—the Glitter Unicorn Rainbow League."

"We live very different lives and come from very different experiences but somehow we have come together as a family," Sakurai said. "Even though we operate in so many different spaces and have different viewpoints, we still come together and have some of the most amazing and enriched conversations together."

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey concluded the plenary with an acknowledgement of the issues that affected this year's Creating Change.

For coverage of Carey's speech, see Creating Change main article.

This article shared 3715 times since Mon Jan 25, 2016
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