"BE YOU" is the name of a new high school group at St. Stephen's Church in Lynn seeking to provide a safe, fun and supportive space for LGBTQ+ teens and their straight allies. Dan Bell, a second-year Life Together fellow, started the group this past winter with support from youth minister Jason Cruz and the Rev. Sarah van Gulden. Teen participants represent all three of Lynn's public high schools, and several parishioners have also taken an active role in supporting the group.
On Saturday, May 16, BE YOU traveled to City Hall Plaza in Boston to participate in the 21st Annual Massachusetts Youth Pride Festival & March, which Bell says is the oldest youth-led, adult-supported LGBTQ+ Youth Pride celebration in the country. The group joined hundreds of young people from around Massachusetts on a march around the Boston Common, carrying signs and shouting chants in support of LGBTQ+ equality.
“For teens who often face bullying at school and rejection at home because of their gender and/or sexual identity, the event was an awesome opportunity to celebrate who they are as God's beloved,” said Bell.
In addition, BE YOU has been advocating on behalf of unaccompanied homeless youth, up to 40 percent of whom are LGBTQ+. The teens created a "rainbow house" on the front lawn of St. Stephen's, facing the Lynn Common. Attached to this miniature house frame, which is covered in rainbow colors, glitter and solar-powered lights, are two signs that read, "LGBTQ+ Homeless Youth Can't Wait!" The project is intended to help raise awareness of the thousands of youth in this country who don't have secure and stable places to call home, and especially those who face exclusion and discrimination due to gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
To learn more about BE YOU, or to find out how to support this ministry, please contact Dan Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more via Lynn Happens, here.