The LGBTQ+ Youth Kickback’s speak out and fundraiser #SpeakforYrself brought together over 150 youth, elected officials, community members, workers, and unemployed people to hear stories about the intersecting needs affecting New Haven’s queer and trans youth. After highlighting their experiences with Safety, Housing, and Jobs, event attendees reflected on their own connection with these issues through an interactive art activity facilitated with the help of the Free Artists of New Haven.
“I grew up in New Haven and I can’t think of anywhere in this town that I feel fully safe — I’m white and privileged and even I am affected. Queer and trans youth deserve safety. Anything less is unacceptable.”
– Isabel Bate, Kickback organizer
“Finding affordable stable housing in New Haven is extremely difficult as it is, when you’re under 25 and queer and a person of color it’s even harder. With the job crisis happening in New Haven, it’s not reaching to say that many of us young people cannot provide evidence of income stability. Housing stability is what I need to feel safe (physically and mentally). Every young person deserves this.”
– Zoe Jade Phillips, Kickback member
“Getting a job is extremely hard. You have to bend over backwards to accommodate their requirements and even then you don’t get a call back because they heard the accent on your tongue, saw the shine of your skin, weren’t comfortable with your gender expression. Youth in New Haven and queer and trans youth especially are struggling with unemployment and this needs to change now.”
– Flavio Espinoza, Kickback organizer
Afterwards, the audience was asked to draw or write their own story while reflecting on three questions:
-What are the barriers you have personally faced in getting a good job?
-When was a time when housing has affected your ability to grow?
-When was a time you felt safe or unsafe in New Haven?
Responses from the crowd were used to collectively construct a community art piece, which was followed by an open mic where other Kickback leaders and youth in the community shared their stories.
The event closed with an open mic where both Kickback organizers and other youth in the community shared their own stories. The event successfully demonstrated how Kickback organizers have a safe space and are now beginning to question the root causes of these issues, so that they can begin addressing them to create a change in New Haven.