Creativity and Community: Pride For Youth - Rabble Media

Creativity and Community: Pride For Youth

Sep 03, 2020
Art Wellness

Harrison Hebb (left) and Helen Howard (right) pose at a Pride for Youth art show. Photo by Nina Peci.

Pride For The Youth is an organization led by two teenagers, President Taylor Blok-Soflin and Vice President Alison Nash. Pride For The Youth holds events for LGBTQIA+ individuals in Lincoln to meet each other and to show their creativity and pride.

“We want [Pride For The Youth] to be so involved in the community that we have a name for us [and] that they know we offer safe spaces and that we’re here for them,” Blok-Soflin says.

As Nash speaks of the difficulties of being a teenage run organization, Blok-Soflin speaks of the struggles of others that she has witnessed and how she took that to motivate her to create this organization. Blok-Soflin “...especially our youth are so confused with themselvesand in pain especially in middle school that’s when I saw a lot of that,” said Blok-Soflin. Pride for the youth started as a simple thought. “We [Taylor and her parents] were leaving Ginger after we got sushi..and we were talking about Pride prom,” said Block-Soflin, “I said ‘You know I wish there was an organization or something that could provide more of that because there’s just a lack of that in the community.”

Growing up with two mothers who are part of this community, Blok-Soflin knew some of the struggles individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community face. Blok-Soflin’s parents were excited for her new adventures.

“They didn’t come from the most accepting families and they struggled a lot as kids with everything that was going on and you can just see it when you look at them that they are just so proud of her,” said Nash.

Rabble Magazine sat down with the leaders of Pride For The Youth to chat about its goals, inclusive social events.

What events do you guys hold?

Taylor Block-Soflin: We’ve held a lot of dances … well I wouldn’t say a lot. We’ve held three so far then we held a chili feed with live music from kids from our community. Our next event is actually an art exhibit. [It’s] an opportunity for our teens to express themselves even if it’s not LGBT and do poetry readings and art.

Alison Nash: We attend a lot of Lincoln’s events for their other organizations. We had a booth at Star City Pride and one of our other board members actually spoke there.

TBS: We went to a banquet that was Outlink. It was the annual LGBT banquet [during] Pride month [and] it was really amazing. We got a chance to speak.

AN: It’s kind of hard to like get into those things just because we’re so new and we’re also like teens. It’s not the easiest thing to put on our own events and host things like that because we don’t have a building or anything like that but a lot of organizations that are community led like [Lincoln club] Panic and Outlink have been very generous to us. We also have a lot of events in churches because they give us their space for free, which kind of turns people away I think, even though we have no religious affiliation. So it’s been hard for us to find places to host them.

What is the importance to you to have Pride for the Youth be run by youth?

TBS: I think the importance of having it youth-run is that we know our peers. Like we can cater events specifically to certain needs so a lot of the LGBTQ members that are teens, they’re really artsy let’s be honest, thats a form of expressing themselves. So that’s why we have events catered to that. We have dances because what teenager doesn’t like to dance? And even if you don’t like to dance, it’s a good chance to meet other friends. So really it’s just an opportunity for us to kind of use our own experiences because we are teenagers ourselves and have gone through the same things.

AN: And we also tend to focus on youth as who were hosting because [Block-Soflin]’s moms have said a billion times that when they were teenagers they had nothing like this. They had no way of meeting their peers. They had no way of expressing themselves because there was nothing like this and still today there really isn’t anything like this. There are clubs at school but that’s kind of it.

TBS: I feel like every club I’ve talked to that’s focused on LGBT or, honestly, the Feminist club at my school … I love it and it sounds like I’m trashing them but I'm not. It’s just that it doesn’t go out into the community. There’s no volunteer work within the community.

Is it hard to get companies and businesses to be part of this?

TBS: Since we’re in high school, I’ve gone up to the principal at Southeast a lot and he’s like “This is amazing this organization has a great cause.” I wish we could advertize it but because its not school related, we can’t hang up posters. But they do let us go from teacher to teacher and say “Hey, if you have any kids interested in this, have them check it out.” So I went to the LTAB [Louder Than A Bomb] club, which is the poetry club at Southeast, and she showed the poster to them. And I went to a couple of middle schools and asked for them to put this into the art teacher’s mailbox.

AN: I think in the community, a lot of businesses are willing to cooperate and we get a lot of people to donate. Like one of our board members works at Runza and they donated a bunch of cinnamon rolls for our last event which was awesome and a lot of businesses let us hang flyers..and a lot of times they are very open to it as long as they know that its a non profit and that we’re not trying to gain anything financial.

TBS: Outlink, Star City Pride and P Flag [are all] really involved with us too and they wanna help out.

Has there been any big impact on either you guys or anyone else who is in the LGBT community that has come to your attention?

TBS: There was this one kid who came to volunteer at the Star City Pride booth and they messaged me on Instagram and they personally thanked me and said “Thank you so much, i’ve been looking for a youth group like this for so long thats accepting.” That was really motivational and it felt really good to know that Pride for the Youth has been helping people.

AN: I think also with the youth it has a big impact but also with adults in the community. They are always saying how they never had this and how it’s super important to them and I think that’s why they are so willing to help because it’s new, it’s like a new thing that they understand and that they wish they had when they were young and a lot of them have come up to us. We also work with a lot of organizations like Planned Parenthood … and they provide condoms and things like that that people don’t really think about the gay community needing but everybody needs protection and everybody needs services so that has had a really big impact on me, to see those organizations come together and help us.

TBS: We’re really blessed that we have so many organizations that are willing, it’s amazing.

Have you ever had any backlash from people?

TBS: No, not yet. We’re prepared for that because that’s just how the world works but as of so far there’s not been any danger.

AN: We also tend to go to the places we know will be okay. We tend to stay in the places we know will help us and yeah, we haven’t had any backlash really.

TBS: Like the churches that we’ve gone to, you’d think that it wouldn’t be the best space because it’s a church but they’re really passionate about providing safe spaces for these kids especially because a lot of other churches would never in 100 years support anything like this. So there are a lot of good spaces that we go to. And we’ve had a lot of our events at the Panic Bar that’s family owned and they close down the bar for us which is amazing and it’s just a great space. And kids like to go there because it’s a gay bar but it’s closed so no alcohol.

Can anyone join the [Pride for the Youth] committee? And who is part of the committee?

TBS: We are always [open] to volunteers and people who want to participate. We have this system where you have to volunteer at least three times and then I just go and I interview you. It’s just pretty much getting to know you, see what you’re interested in with helping us because on the board we try to cater to each kid’s skills and needs. So we have one girl, she’s really good at graphic design so we let her cover that. Really it’s just, show us that you are dedicated and that you have the time.

Pride for the Youth have been doing a lot for our LGBTQ community in Lincoln and continue to do so. They can be found through their Facebook and Instagram pages.