When Mississippi teen Constance McMillen was denied the right to bring her girlfriend to prom it made national news. Things like that make it clear that being young and gay is not easy.
Fortunately for the youth of Denver there is Rainbow Alley.
“Rainbow Alley is a drop in center for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) youth ages 12-21, open year round, Tuesday-Saturday,” said Rainbow Alley Program Manager Andi Lyons. “We provide regular support groups, social programs like dances and drag shows and education ranging from healthy sexuality to leadership to LGBTQ history.”
Since the young people who attend created Rainbow Alley, they are the ones who shape the activities.
Every June, Denver produces one of the biggest PrideFest celebrations in the country, and the youth community is not left out; Rainbow Alley hosts Youth Alley every year.
“Youth Alley started three years ago to provide a distinct space for young people, 12-24, who attend PrideFest,” Lyons said. “The area has games, booths and resources that are geared towards youth, providing HIV testing, youth stage entertainment, a party on Saturday evening specifically for youth with food and a DJ and a safe space to hang out while at PrideFest.”
Youth Alley was created by a coalition of groups who noticed more and more youth at Pride who needed a more unique space to enjoy the weekend.
“We also wanted to create a space that was drug, alcohol and smoke free for young people who do not want to or cannot participate in these activities.” Lyons said.
This year Youth Alley is featuring a “Neverland” theme and is expecting a larger crowd than ever.
“We will have a stage with programming on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, booths with games and prizes, HIV testing, a Saturday evening party with free food, photos and giveaways,” Lyons said.
Rainbow Alley is just one more little step in helping kids get that extra lift that they need to help understand how important they are to their familes and the community.