Kitsap Culture sat down a while back to talk with Eli Oldfield, a Board Member of Q Youth Resources. Their mission statement is: ‘Q Youth Resources provides a safe space for gender and sexual minority (GSM) youth. We support youth development through skill building, activities and resources that build confidence and empower GSM youth.’
Kitsap Culture: Tell me about how Q Youth Resources came about?
Eli: Q Youth Resources was founded in 2007. The program started as a meet up group, and was adopted formally by the Kitsap County HIV/AIDS foundation (they closed in approximately 2011). When they closed, we became our own nonprofit.
Kitsap Culture: What age group do you serve?
Eli: It used to be ages 13-20, but that dates back to when it first started, and was centered on HIV education and prevention. We have been considering some age range changes, because programs for thirteen-year-olds are not the same programs you want for twenty-year-olds. In regards to the 'The Q Center,' when we moved to the Bremerton Youth Center, guidelines were that people ‘aged out’ at 18. Or they could still attend, but had to be in High School. We are starting a leadership/mentorship program with youth that are over 18, and not in school, but still want to be involved in the community.
Kitsap Culture: How’s the leadership/mentorship program going?
Eli: It’s in the early phases; we want to do it in a way that is thoughtful, meaningful for all parties and manageable for our small organization. We’re researching agencies that have something like that, and learning how they do it. We want to make sure it can be run by anyone, instead of relying on the knowledge/skillsets of a particular person.
Kitsap Culture: I found a term on your site - ‘Queer Inclusive Media.’ What does that mean?
Eli: That can mean a lot of things; books, television, movies that have representation of LGBTQ people. This is so that young queer people can see themselves reflected in the media they’re consuming.
Kitsap Culture: How do you partner with other local LGBTQ groups?
Eli: We partner with Kitsap Pride on several events throughout the year. Specifically, they have a large family picnic annually that we partner with them on. We also partner with Pride Foundation in Seattle. They’ve been supportive of us with grants and scholarships, and also in offering expertise and guidance. They’ve been very helpful in making sure we’re running our agency in the best way possible.
Kitsap Culture: Are there situations where you find yourself intervening within families?
Eli: That has not come up. We’ve actually had great relationships with parents. Lots of messages, through social media, come from families with questions when their child is coming out as queer or gender nonconforming. They are looking for resources, and we feel lucky to be thought of as a resource in our community. We also partner with a local parent named Patty Pritchard who received training to run a parent support group for parents of gender nonconforming youth that meets in our space.
Kitsap Culture: What are some events your organization hosts for LGBTQ Youth?
Eli: Great question! We host a Pink Prom, and 2019 is our 10th anniversary of that event. It is for youth ages 14-20 to dance with the date of their choice. Held annually in May, Pink Prom celebrates all genders, orientations, and relationships. We recently moved that to the Admiral Theater and it’s such a cool space! We have a DJ who comes in from Seattle, a photo booth, etc. Usually over 300 kids attend annually. In addition to that event, we also host craft nights, drag queen musical bingo (as a fundraiser), and a FamFest in November.
The Wrap Up: Q Youth Resources works to evolve, and continuously seeks ways to accommodate the needs of the community they serve. For example, in the past Q Youth Resources teamed with the Bremerton Teen Center to use the ‘High School Room’ for Friday night drop-ins for 'The Q Center.' That service continued for approximately 10 years until July, 2019. At that time a decision was made to end the drop-in service and shift focus onto two other programs: grants and community events. The grant program, starting in 2020, will aim to serve the Kitsap LGBTQ community with gender-related care, legal services, and with those service professionals seeking to better serve our LGBTQ community. The community events program will focus on the established annual Pink Prom as well as field trips, brunches for parents of LGBTQ youth, Bob Ross painting events, and providing safe places for LGBTQ youth and their families.
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