5 Inspiring Advocates Supporting LGBTQIAA+ Youth
Last updated: June 2, 2023, at 8:44 a.m. PT
Originally published: June 1, 2023, at 9:50 a.m. PT
Light shines through millions of raindrops to form a rainbow, and the beautiful blend of colors may look different depending on where you're standing, but it's always beautiful. Identities are complicated because they're made up of many things – how we look, our work, our religious beliefs, the clothes we wear, where we're born, our forms of expression, and so much more. Some of these things are choices, and some of them are not. Just like a rainbow, our identities may be perceived differently, but our identities are always beautiful.
Being accepted and respected in the world depends on safe, supportive communities where all identities can shine their brightest. Pride month is a burst of that expression and an outpouring of support for those expressions in all their beautiful forms. The celebration of Pride month is rooted in struggle and bolstered by the tireless work of those fearless dedicated champions who came before us and those who continue to lead us toward a more welcoming and inclusive society year-round. Here are some of those champions who inspire our work in support of all youth and their families:
Executive Director, Lavender Rights Project
A remarkably dedicated community minister and director of lifelong learning making great strides toward addressing housing, gender-based violence, and poverty law for our QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community. Learn more>
A community organizer, activist, educator, writer, and trainer for disability and transformative justice, Mingus longs and fights for "a world where disabled children can live free of violence, with dignity and love." Their training, grounded in the concept of interdependence rather than independence, has become integrated into university curricula and recognized worldwide. Learn more>
Dr. Robert Deisher
An out pediatrician who saw that his LGBTQIAA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Allies, and more) patients had more negative health outcomes than their non-LGBTQIAA+ peers and figured that "if they could just meet each other and have a way to make friends with other LGBTQIAA+ youth, their physical and mental health outcomes might improve." Bob's proud legacy lives on in his organization, founded on a simple idea – community. Learn more>
Rian Roberson, MA, LMHC
One of precious few queer, biracial therapists practicing in Seattle, Rian helps individuals, couples, and groups heal past trauma through an intersectional lens and specializes in serving LGBTQ+ people of color. In addition, they offer workshops and consulting to companies wishing to cultivate organizational change. Learn more>
Taimane T. Tuia'ana
Youth Program Manager, UTOPIA Washington (United Territories of Pacific Islander Alliance)
With over ten years of experience working with Pacific Islander youth, this proud Fa'afafine works to support UTOPIA's mission of creating safe, supportive, and vibrant spaces in which they can thrive. Last month, UTOPIA opened Mapu Maia Clinic in Kent to provide wellness, gender-affirming care, harm reduction, and vaccines without requiring health insurance coverage. Learn more>
Creating supportive, affirming spaces of belonging that are welcoming to all identities is at the heart of our mission for all. At the Y Social Impact Center, we work with therapists and licensed professionals with lived experience to ensure we provide care and connect our LGBTQIAA+ community members to professionals who can provide identity-affirming care in a safe and welcoming environment. Providing this lifesaving care is often severely under-resourced, inaccessible, or hard to locate. These disparities in healthcare access are even larger for our QTBIPOC youth. To reach the youth that need us the most, the Y offers outdoor leadership programs to QTBIPOC youth to help create pathways to improve mental health outcomes and create community connections.
Please join us in learning about this beautiful array of identities this month, and all year round, in celebrating the diversity of our identities that make us beautiful and better together.
In community and gratitude,
President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Seattle