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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 22 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 47
Queer Youth Space faces funding crisis - Group appeals to community to help keep Pike Street facility open
Section One
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Queer Youth Space faces funding crisis - Group appeals to community to help keep Pike Street facility open

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Queer Youth Space (QYS), a community organization for youth led by youth, needs your help to survive.

QYS officials report that they have recently experienced serious struggles in fundraising to keep their physical space open. As a result, the space faces the possibility of closure as early as December if, they say, 'circumstances do not change.'

'As an organization committed to transparency, we believe that the time has come for us to be fully transparent about Queer Youth Space's current situation,' QYS said in a media release this week. 'All of us are working tirelessly to keep things running as smoothly as we can, but we are in desperate need of help from you, the community, so that we can continue to provide the same quality of resources, programming, and space that we have been able to provide over the past year.'

According to the media release, 'The idea of an organization led entirely by young people and supported by adults is a radical one,' and as the word 'radical' means 'at the root,' a radical approach to a problem, QYS says, 'is one that gets to the root of the problem itself.'

YOUTH IN CHARGE
QYS leadership feels that there is no better way to attack the roots of heterosexism, cis-sexism, ageism, racism, classism, and sexism than by placing the organization (the very young people who are affected by these and other forms of oppression) in the 'leadership of our organization and at the forefront of our own movement. We are constituent-led, and this is our greatest strength.'

However, say officials, being young people at the intersections of different oppressed identities, they feel QYS youth face many struggles and difficulties. 'As a youth-led organization in an adult-led world, our credit, ability, and efficacy, already under question, are now being further questioned as a result of this current situation. Queer Youth Space is much more than just our physical space, but it is through our physical space that we are able to find greater legitimacy for ourselves in a world and society that in many respects rests on the idea of physical space itself.'

Simply put - QYS needs your money.

ThreeWings, more commonly known as Queer Youth Space, is a youth-led, adult-supported nonprofit organization that seeks to empower Queer youth to overcome heterosexism and ageism, as well as racism, classism, cis-sexism and all other oppressions that they face. ThreeWings seeks to do so through a holistic, three-pronged approach, consisting of three areas of focus: (a) cultural arts and activism, (b) wellness, and (c) research and education. ThreeWings aims to sustain alternatives to more traditional, top-down models of community organizing.

MEETING CRITICAL NEEDS
ThreeWings was born out of the Mutiny, a visionary, youth-led forum held at Seattle Central Community College in early 2010, at which more than 150 young people from all over the Seattle metropolitan area engaged each other about what their needs as young Queer people were and what could be done to meet them.

At the Mutiny, two needs were identified: (1) community organizing that is youth-positive and youth-led, and (2) a cultural gathering space created by and for Queer youth. This event catalyzed a vision for a cultural arts center led by queer youth that would fulfill both of these needs.

With the successful award of a $100,000 Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund in 2010, ThreeWings was able to secure a dedicated physical space in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle at 911 E. Pike St., Suite 202. With community and organizational support, this physical space was finally opened to the public in November 2012.

Led by a staff and volunteer base comprised entirely of young folks from the community and supported by a board of directors that also consists of youth and young adults, Queer Youth Space seeks to provide Seattle's young Queer community with an all-ages, radically inclusive space to exist and share common experiences and struggles.

ThreeWings/Queer Youth Space has been successful in partnering with numerous local advocacy organizations to provide a variety of programs and services. Successful programs have included poetry and spoken-word events, dance parties, anti-oppression and health/wellness trainings and workshops, subject-based tutoring, and identity-based discussion and support groups.

'It is through the support that we have received from the community, both in the form of donated time and donated money, that Queer Youth Space has been the success that it has been,' say officials.

In the single year that QYS has had a physical space, the center has provided a great variety of programs, trainings, workshops, and events for youth. However, QYS leadership says that the most important thing they provide to youth through the space is greater safety. 'We aim to maintain a space that is inclusive, supportive, and loving, a haven in which all youth can bring their full and authentic selves forward.'

'We attribute our accomplishments to your support,' said the organization, 'Your support ensures that fundamental community organizing and coalition building continues. We are for you, by you.'

HOW TO DONATE
If you would like to help QYS reach their goal of $3,500, you can donate through its GoFundMe page: http://www.gofundme.com/5bz6wg. As of press time, QYS has raised over $2,600 from 49 donors in four days. You can also donate directly at the QYS website, www.queeryouthspace.org.

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