Pride Week is making its return to Western New York following dramatically scaled back versions over the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now all the events are back in full capacity and joining us on AM Buffalo is Jack Kavanagh, the executive director of GLYS.
Jack Kavanaugh says the events are “a great opportunity for us at GLYS to be able to let people know that we exist, and the services are out there for young people. We are the only organization in Western New York that is solely focused on the services for the LFGTQ+ young people and we want to make sure that all the youth, parents, caregivers, know that we exist and a lot of the proceeds from all these events come to us to be able to support our work. And so, in addition to our gender affirmation work, we do drop-in centers, both virtually and in person. We also provide a lot of support to local schools to be more affirming and students around Western New York school district and a number of other individual support as well to young people and their parents and families and support groups and things like that.”
Jack shares that this Friday there is an alternative prom for our youth. He says, “It is at Asbury Hall downtown, this Friday, which is always really exciting for a lot of young people. They can go to their prom and fully be who they are. You know a lot of young people have to leave them parts of themselves at the door and we want to make sure that there are spaces where they can feel themselves, they can dress how they want, they can present how they want and they can be who they are, in a space with their peers as well as seeing role models who are successful, happy, healthy adults that share identities with them is really, really important. So that’s this Friday, we’re super excited.”
He says, “then Sunday is of course, is the big parade and the Pride Festival which is always really exciting. It’s always been a big one for me. I remember I’ve been in the Pride Parade since I was six, seven years old and I was just saying to someone, the other day, I remember when the Pride Parade was like 100 people marching down, it was a little festival, Lafayette Square with like one stage and ten tables and now it’s thousands of people. And when I was in high school, we were the first high school to march in parade and now there’s through us, we coordinate hundreds of high school students. It’s a great event for anyone. It marches down Elmwood , the Festival is down Canalside and it’s really, really wonderful event.”
The second annual Buffalo Strong Pride Bi (Athlon) is another event. Jack says, “We are really excited for that, so we did that last year for the first time in partnership with WKBW. It was supposed to be this weekend. We rescheduled it until the 25th. We are supper exited with that. It’s at Rice Fitness Studio down in Hamburg. It’s a great event. I really encourage everyone to turn out, especially they do it outside, we will have performances from local drag performers. It’s just a great event. We are really excited to get that going again this year.
When asked how does these events open doors for everything GLYS does, Jack says it’s a great opportunity for us to outreach. Like I said making sure people know that we’re there, that we exist, that we offer the supports. The amount of people that just have never heard of GLYS, don’t know what we do is surprising because we’ve been in the community for so long but the opportunity for us to talk to folks, share what we do, share what we are and it’s really about making sure there are as many spaces possible, for these youth to come be their full selves, be who they are and not just have to leave parts of themselves at the door when they come in .
For more information go to glyswny.org.