LGBTQ Saves makes space for queer youth in Fort Worth during Pride Month
Close to 400 people from across Tarrant County gathered in Trinity Park this weekend for LGBTQ SAVES’ annual Youth Pride Picnic.
The event comes during a year of anti-LGBTQ legislation involving everything from book bans to limiting trans athletes’ participation in college sports. LGBTQ people in Fort Worth, specifically, have been targeted by drag queen bans and farmers markets revoking spots for queer businesses.
More than 100 volunteers helped check in attendees and handed out rainbow gift bags. Around a small, central pavilion, kids and their families tie-dyed shirts, crafted art pieces and ate lunch in shady spots.
Zam, 13, came with their mom, Kat. It was the first time either of them had been to a pride event specifically geared towards young people. Their family recently moved back to Fort Worth from East Texas.
“I didn’t know what to think,” Zam said. “I heard park, but there’s a lot more people than I thought there would be originally. I was surprised how many people there were.”
Kat said they found out about the event from two staff members at Juju Knits, a local knitting and crocheting store. Zam was working on a crochet bucket hat with the colors of the pansexual flag—pink, yellow and blue.
“You don’t really see pan things around a lot,” Zam said, “but there’s a lot of pan things around here. So, it’s just cool to see stuff that shows my sexuality.”
They were excited about getting to connect with new people at Saturday’s event.
“I’m not usually with people who are supportive,” Zam said. “It’s cool to be around people who support and are like me. Everyone should be safe, everyone should feel safe in their own skin, and they should be around people like them, and who are like them.”
Community organizations set up booths around the space as people handed out free hugs and free temporary tattoos. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art set up string for people to tie around two trees, inspired by Gabriel Dawe's exhibit Plexus no. 34 that hangs in the museum's atrium.
Acute Salon, a gender-neutral salon in Fort Worth, painted people’s faces with rainbow designs.
Adam Shelburn and his family, including mom Kaytee Shelburn, have been a part of LGBTQ SAVES for the past four years. He says the annual picnic is a great chance to catch up with friends.
“It’s the community and everyone being brought together for one main thing,” Adam Shelburn said. “It’s really cool getting to see everyone.”
Kaytee Shelburn said while the organization is primarily for youth, she’s gotten a lot out of it as a parent.
“We always worry about our kids getting hurt in public, and being judged,” Kaytee Shelburn said. “Unfortunately that judgment turns to violence sometimes, and the thought of that happening to your kid is scary. So, LGBTQ SAVES is great because it puts you in touch with other families that you know are not going to judge your kid. They can just go around and be human.”
Fort Worth’s next pride celebration, Trinity Pride Fest, is June 24 from 6-10 p.m. at Magnolia Green Park.
This story has been updated with information from LGBTQ SAVES.
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