SPARK and Ignite organizer Santita Hooper said it is not too late (but by Thursday is best) for youth to register online this week and there will also be on-site registration on Saturday at the Student University Center on the campus of Georgia State University where most events will take place.
“If you look outside metro areas, you find resources are seriously lacking,” for LGBTQ youth, especially those who are black, Asian and Latino, Hooper says about the reason for holding the regional convening.
“The rural aspect is especially difficult,” she said. Young people of color living in rural Mississippi or Alabama for example face many obstacles to understanding who they are and getting the resources they need to express themselves and find support.
“We want the young people network with other queer youth of color who are budding activists in their own right,” Hooper says. “And for those who are not as active or experienced we would hope they would meet others and see how their issues mirror each other and be motivated to to back to their hometown and start a GSA or take on a campaign.”
Hooper, who is 28, said “Ignite” was created by young people of color for young people of color. Workshops offered include everything from “What the Bible says about homosexuality” as well as using art as activism and even how a transgender person can get a legal name change.
As the first conference of its kind in Atlanta, Hooper sees a “historical significance” to the event that has the theme, “Our Bodies, Our Communities, Our Futures: Building Our Networks of Survival.”
“This is our first large-scale regional gathering of young queer people. There were smaller conferences focused on queer youth, but nothing as large or as regionally focused on queer youth of color in the south. From our standpoint, Ignite is the first,” she said.
As part of promoting Ignite, several videos were made by those attending.
Photo: Jazz Franklin, 23, lives in Alabama. She says isolation is one of the hardest issues she deals with as a queer person of color in a rural area and is looking forward to this weekend’s Ignite convening in Atlanta. Her video, above, explains why such a meeting is important. (Photo via YouTube)