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New Detroit organization empowers LGBTQ youth of color

DETROIT — This October, a small group of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) youth of color will be convening in Detroit to train one another in a range of media skills, and then put their talents to work in a collaborative effort to address community problems.

The organization, which will hold weekly meetings that include youth-facilitated conversations about community problems, skill-building workshops that teach a range of media (from photography, to video production, to graphic design) and a family-style meal, is currently seeking support from area volunteers and donations to its online fundraising campaign.

“It’s hard living in Detroit, period,” says Rhiannon Chester, one of two youth coordinators for the project. “But for LGBTQ youth, especially youth of color, sometimes it feels like every day is a fight to survive.”

Considering the disproportionate rates of homelessness, sexual exploitation, addiction, incarceration and institutional violence faced by LGBTQ youth of color, Rhiannon’s words speak to the harsh reality that, while life these days is tough on the average Detroiter, LGBTQ youth of color in the city are up against what sometimes seems like impossible odds.

Despite the struggles youth and youth service agencies are facing, Lance Hicks, co-coordinator of the project, takes an optimistic stance. “I think the struggles we’re facing are also opportunities. I see this project as a chance for youth to build community, while using their own creative ideas to come up with solutions to the problems we’re faced with, every day.”

So far, the project has begun building community partnerships with several different area agencies and is preparing to launch in early October. The organizers have planned an info session for Aug. 18, open to anyone who’d like to learn more. Also in preparation for launch, the organization has begun an online fundraising campaign, for a budget of $6,435, enough to provide media equipment, weekly meals and transportation for youth.

To learn more, e-mail info@detroitrepresent.org, visit www.detroitrepresent.com or call 313.279.1279. To contribute to the online fundraising campaign, visit www.indiegogo.com/detroitrepresent. Contributors will get perks ranging from original artwork to youth-facilitated workshops.

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