A barbecue held in downtown Sudbury on June 11 as one of the more than 30 Sudbury Pride events this week raised funds for a summer camp in the region that caters to LGBTQ2 youth.
The event, now in its third year, was organized by a number of different organizations, including the Child and Family Centre, Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury Manitoulin, Greater Sudbury Police Service and the GSPS Chief’s Youth Advisory Council.
Besides the barbecue, the event included music by Sudbury Youth Rocks.
Ginette Demers, manager of learning, development and inclusion at the local CAS branch, said child and youth service workers tend to work with a lot of queer youth as part of their jobs, and wanted to do something for them.
She said there weren't a lot of Sudbury Pride events that focused specifically on youth.
“When we approached Pride about our idea, they embraced it, they supported it,” she said.
Demers said they were hoping to raise at least $1,200 to go to Rainbow Camp, which is being held in Thessalon for three weeks this August.
Among those at the event was Vincent Bolt, a camp counsellor at Rainbow Camp and the education manager with TG Innerselves, a support group for transgender people in the region.
Bolt, a transgender man, said he gets to “live vicariously” through the campers, because Rainbow Camp didn't exist when he was younger, and he probably wouldn't have felt comfortable going to a traditional camp.
“I'm not saying that other camps are not safe places, but when you don't know where you're going to be safe, it's really, really hard to put yourself out there,” he said.
“With Rainbow camp, there's no worry about that. Nobody is going to judge you for your gender identity or sexual orientation. No one is going to give you a hard time because you are an ally. You are accepted for who you are.”
He said the barbecue fundraiser is “absolutely fantastic” because there are sponsored spots at Rainbow Camp for youth who can't afford to pay.
"The cost of camp for many people is prohibitive,” Bolt said.
If you didn't make it out to the barbecue fundraiser, and would like to contribute to Rainbow Camp, you can do so through the camp's website.
Although not a Rainbow camper, Kayden Legault-Henri expressed appreciation that there's a few Sudbury Pride events focusing on youth.
There's also a youth pride prom for teens aged 18 and under taking place at Sudbury Theatre Centre Friday night.
Sudbury Pride is a safe space for LGBTQ2 youth to be free to be who they are, the teen said.
“It's a way for youth to get together and talk, because a lot of youth aren't comfortable coming out,” Legault-Henri said.