PALM SPRINGS — Youth of the Coachella Valley have been named Grand Marshals of the 2018 Pride Parade, a move that is drawing accolades from openly gay and transgender leaders in the community.
Inspired by — and in support of — youth-led efforts that are igniting critical conversations for social change, Greater Palm Springs Pride kicks off the 2018 Pride season under the theme of Youth Power for Change.
“Young people in our country are stepping up and assuming leadership roles that adults have abandoned, on a number of topics, including mental health, suicide, sexual harassment, and not least of all, gun violence, Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem told Uken Report. “They are taking the moral high ground because we “grownups” have shrugged our shoulders and done nothing for too long. Many times we have had to let the children lead as they begin to build the world they want. This is one of those times.”
Pettis, who is openly gay, said, “It is only common sense to acknowledge the role of young people at Pride. Ideally the Pride Committee will also take the opportunity to hold focus groups and listening sessions with our young people to see how young and old together can change the world.”
Empowered youth are at the forefront of building a national movement that can shape public policy for generations, according to Ron deHarte of Palm Springs Pride. While we believe youth who are empowered will change the world, we are reminded that youth have historically been on the frontlines of social change, ranging from the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter. Recently, in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, youth leadership emerged across the country and created national marches to demand change and end gun violence. They have crafted powerful position statements, organized school walkouts, lobbied politicians and engaged in conversations with elected-officials.
Additionally, we create safe and affirming opportunities for youth to participate in activities related to Pride, deHarte said in a prepared statement. We actively collaborate with Safe Schools Desert Cities to connect with youth and provide funding, through the Pride Youth Fund, directly to Gay-Straight Alliance clubs and LGBT youth programs.
Greater Palm Springs Pride is committed to empowering youth in the Coachella Valley through mentorship, community engagement and by directly funding grassroots programs in support of youth development, team building and anti-bullying efforts.
Lisa Middleton, who made history in November 2017 as the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California, applauded the decision to have Coachella Valley youth serve as grand marshals of the Pride Parade.
“What we are seeing in this generation of young people is folks who are coming out much earlier in their lives and demanding equality in elementary schools, in junior high schools and in high schools,” Middleton told Uken Report. “For individuals in my generation, our coming out stories were frequently deferred until we had left town. It is incredibly gratifying to see these young people showing courage that we didn’t have and have opportunities that we didn’t have.”
Middleton praised youth for their eloquence and passion not only LGBTQ right but also gun safety issues.
“Anyone who has listened to the stories of the students, who will bear for the rest of their lives a shooting in their high school in front of them, has to be changed by their experience,” Middleton said. “For many of us who have fought for 30 to 40 years for greater gun safety regulation in this country, the involvement of the students, we hope, will be a game changer. Congress will finally step up to its responsibility to protect the citizens of this country from avoidable gun violence. We in the LGBT community are very vigilant on gun safety issues because we know we are individually and collectively targeted.”
The Palm Springs Pride Parade is scheduled for Nov. 4. The parade steps off at 10 a.m. at Palm Canyon Drive and Tachevah Drive and proceeds downtown on Palm Canyon Drive to the main entrance of the Pride Festival at Museum Way.