HBGC Cultivates the Next Generation of LGBT Leaders
After the massive success of the Hispanic and Black Gay Coalition's second annual Youth Empowerment Conference in 2012, they are launching their own youth leaders program this year. Over a six-month period, the New Leaders Institute will host a variety of workshops and training sessions culminating in a community activist project.
"We decided to start this program after seeing a lack of leadership opportunities, particularly for the black and Latino LGBT community that are under 30," said Corey Yarborough, co-founder of HBGC. "So we wanted to create a program that could help our leaders and activists to start their own projects for the group or a community organization or a campaign to make a difference."
HBGC is still accepting applications for the New Leaders Institute, which starts in April. Yarborough said that they plan to enroll 10 to 12 youth who show a dedication to their local community.
The program will commence with a series of trainings, approximately twice a month, which cover everything from community organizing to social justice theory. Yarborough added that the institute would culminate in a community project such as starting a gay-straight alliance, organizing an anti-homophobia campaign in a neighborhood or educating citizens about current LGBT-related legislation.
Reflecting on his own career as a youth leader, HBGC co-founder Yarborough said that he hoped to see young adults who show a passion for community activism; the same that he showed when he started the organization at the age of 23.
"I'm most excited to see the community projects that come from this," Yarborough told EDGE. "I didn't have any mentors when my partner and I were starting this organization, so to be there for support and to provide resources is something I also look forward to."
As a launch for the institute, the HBGC held a discussion panel last Saturday, Feb. 2. "Leaders of the New School: Our Role in the Future of Equality" allowed local community activists to share their experiences with addressing LGBT issues in the Boston area and how to become valuable leaders.
Ayanna Pressley, the first woman of color to be elected as a Boston City Councilor, made opening remarks to people attending the panel.
In her nine-minute speech, Pressley touched on city inclusiveness and advocated for sex and health education, especially in Boston Public Schools. "This will help us create a safe and nurturing space for LGBT and questioning youth to come out and seek support," she stated.
"I’m also working on the issue of public accommodation, a state law that bans discrimination in public places," she added. "I am challenging places that have either discriminated by showing an unwillingness to host queer events or have just made the environment so hostile that you don’t want to stay there."
Additionally, Pressley spoke of her historic victory as the first woman of color to be elected to Boston’s City Council. She called it a "personal achievement" but added that the feeling of success should be shared with everyone in the room.
"It’s really a collective victory," Pressley told the audience. "I want you to feel some personal pride and stake hold in my win because I think that as an ally to the LGBT community and a woman of color, [my election] is a victory for all of us."
Yarborough called Saturday’s panel "fantastic," adding that it afforded potential youth leaders the chance to hear from those already making strides in the community.
Panel speakers included Maurice Jackson, Queer Peers Director at Boston College, who discussed his role as a student leader and the issues his group faces while operating under a Jesuit institution.
The Queer Peers director praised HBGC’s New Leaders Institute, saying "[it] will bring several different interpretations of leadership to the LGBTQ community. Far too often we get caught in only having one understanding of what a leader is and can be. Because of this misconception, we lose sight of the greater mission and the ways in which we fit into it. The reality is that every member of the LGBTQ community has a different role in progressing this community. In this way, we are all leaders," said Jackson.
Several other community organizers were on the panel, including Van Bailey, director of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard University; Alyssa Green, founder of ButchBoi Life; Gabriel Maldonado, CEO & founder of TruEvolution, and Nelisa Rash, research assistant of Lifeskills at Fenway Health. Amir Dixon, Boston-based filmmaker and HBGC board member, moderated the panel.
For more info about the New Leaders Institute, email HBGC Youth Program Coordinator and Co-Founder Quincey Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org