In a small conference room at the office of GALAEI: A Queer [email protected] Social Justice Organization sat 10 very unique individuals.
Excited to learn about LGBT history, the youth inquisitively asked questions and provided feedback. GALAEI youth coordinator Francisco Zavala Cortes, accompanied by intern Sara Helen-Long, discussed the future and purpose of the program with the youth. The room slowly began to fill with laughter as they played an icebreaker where youth had to draw images that described themselves and the rest of the youth had to guess who drew what. With different aspects of art soon to be covered in the program, the youth were all excited to show off their talent.
The program was unanimously voted to be named YAAC, an acronym that stands for the Youth Art & Activism Committee. The program aims to show a more broad variety of art that highlights the importance of LGBT issues and history, especially in Philadelphia and the Latino community. The group of creative individuals meets bi-weekly, and with each meeting there is always something new on the plate. Guest speakers from all forms of artistic backgrounds are set to speak about their skills. The professionals inform the youth of their artistic specialties and how they could learn them, whether it be photography, music, dance or other forms of art. With different exposure to these creative guest speakers, the leaders of the program want to give the youth of YAAC a spark of inspiration to create a special creative-art piece, planned to be unveiled at the 20th Annual Alternative Prom on June 19.
Throughout the weeks of the program we will be making informational stops at LGBT historic sites, as well as murals around the city to get the participants’ creative juices flowing. Believing that showing youth hands-on the impact that one person or one piece of art can have on the community is important to motivate them. YAAC aims to explore the issues that impact the youth as well, so they can reflect on their own personal artwork and in time for their final piece.
YAAC is giving youth the creative freedom they so desperately need. Zavala is allowing the youth to pick anything they want for their final art piece — whether that piece be a selfie, short film or drawing.
“So I can take a picture on the train tracks?” asked one youth.
“Yeah, if that piece is something personal to you, go for it!” Zavala replied to the youth’s excitement.
Learning the valuable skills needed will allow the youth from YAAC to make their artwork mean something special to them.
Emmanuel Coreano is a junior at El Centro de Estudiantes.