2012 is the second annual Out in the Silence Award for Youth Activism, “to encourage, highlight and honor creative and courageous young people and their work to call attention to bullying, harassment, bigotry and discrimination and to promote safe schools and inclusive communities for all.” – Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, Out in the Silence Campaign.
In 2002, what is now Queerlandia started as QueerFresno, in the Central California city of 500,000. As Fresno will always be a special place for us here at Queerlandia, we were especially pleased to see the first of five recipients of this year’s award was Justin Kamimoto, 19, of Fresno.
Justin has been a busy fellow these past few years, what with starting a GSA at Clovis North High School, being on the board of Reel Pride, Fresno and the Central Valley’s LGBT film festival, and running My LGBT Plus, a youth-specific resource and information blog site. All that while attending California State University at Fresno, and being active in the Bulldog Pride organization on campus! Whew!
Read Out in the Silence’s remarks about Justin after the jump.
Justin Kamimoto – Fresno, CA
At 18 years old, Justin epitomizes what it means to be a community activist. When he came out at his high school two years ago, Justin founded the Clovis North Gay Straight Alliance, an effort to help create a safe environment for LGBT students and their allies and to bring an end to the homophobia and transphobia that made learning so difficult for so many, not a small feat in the very conservative San Joaquin Valley of Central California.
Shortly after, Justin joined the board of Reel Pride, Fresno’s annual LGBT film festival, then became director of student outreach, building a new audience for and pumping energy and excitement into one of the country’s most important and visible media events.
Now a sophomore, and Bulldog Pride Fund Scholar, at California State University at Fresno, Justin is not sitting on the laurels of his early accomplishments. In order to address the gaps in family acceptance, support and services for LGBT youth in the Central Valley, he founded MyLGBT+, a unique community resource that raises public awareness about the needs of LGBT youth and provides forums for discussion, advice, support and encouragement. Justin is organizing for change by helping to identify and meet immediate needs while providing a training ground for future activists!
Also awarded prizes this year are:
Ollin Montes – Longmont, CO
Isaac Gomez – San Diego, CA
Tanner Uttecht – Shawano, WI
BreakOUT! Fighting the Criminalization of LGBT Youth – New Orleans, LA
You can read their stories, here.
Also catching our eye, is an honorable mention for Calen Valencia, of Tulare, California. Tulare is 50 miles southeast of Fresno, and is a small community of 60,000. The major industry in Tulare is dairy, and the region is strongly conservative. That two young activists in the Central Valley were honored with these awards is especially heartening to us, since this is where we began, ten years ago. We’ve closely followed the changes here, and we hope these young leaders continue their important work for many years to come.
Congratulations to all the winners!