Trans and queer youth leaders in the Central Valley coordinated and hosted the annual Expression Not Suppression (ENS) conference in Fresno on Saturday, April 22. Nearly 50 trans, queer, and ally youth, adults, and community members gathered to attend a series of workshops on harassment and discrimination, fighting the gender binary, and sexual health. The event’s Keynote Speaker and local activist Justin Kamimoto kicked off the event with some encouraging words about his life as a young LGBTQ+ activist. He delivered a message of hope for those youth who live in a more conservative area of the state and encouraged them to take action in their local communities. The day concluded with a youth dance and drag show.
Read what participants had to say about the importance of ENS 2017:
“I think it’s really important now, during these trying times, that we come together as a community and lean on each other for support. We need to stick together! I’m definitely excited for this opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences with other youth, since I will be graduating soon, in hopes of inspiring them to join GSA or even the youth council.”-Kaede Acuña, senior at Hoover High School
“GSA gives us a safe space to discuss what we are going through in our lives. ENS is a way to spread even more visibility and education to our community so we can help improve the Central Valley and make places more inclusive.” -Paulo Carmeloapp, Senior at Clovis High School
Navigating Intersections of Identity
“I think a lot of LGBTQ+ youth struggle with being a person of faith, especially here in the Central Valley where they experience hate, and I think having ENS at a church may help trans and queer youth reconcile those different identities.” -Daniel Clark, Junior at Edison High School
“I’m glad ENS is being held at a church. It reaffirms the idea that youth can be LGBTQ+ and religious; they are not mutually exclusive. Many LGBTQ+ youth in the Central Valley come from religious homes and we don’t want youth feeling ostracized.” -Max Chavez, Senior at Central Valley High School
“I hope youth learn what their rights are, through workshops like Fight For Your Rights! It will teach youth to become empowered to take action through the law so we are not discriminated against.” -Daniel Clark, junior at Edison