• Jack Breckheimer & Chandler Wheeler

30 Years Of OYM: Proud To Be Here

Updated: Aug 17

This year isn't just Odyssey's 30th anniversary; it's also the 30th anniversary of Spokane Pride (formerly known as OutSpokane) and their annual Pride Parade and Festival. That's thirty years of celebration, advocacy, and activism by and for the LGBTQ+ community in the Inland Northwest, and Odyssey is grateful to have been here for all of it. Let's take a look at some of Odyssey's participation in Spokane Pride through the years!



1996: The Early Days Of Odyssey Pride


The early nineties saw Odyssey Youth Group (as it was called in the early days of the program's inception) jumping headfirst into community engagement. Originally a group for AIDS prevention and outreach under the direction of the Spokane County Health District in 1992, Odyssey participants started to connect in with local LGBTQ+ organizations and get involved in the local queer community. In 1996, during the first week-long Pride celebration in Spokane, Odyssey organized a spaghetti feed, as well as marching in the Pride Parade and helping to set up the AIDS memorial quilt for display (above). Odyssey's early community engagement would set the stage for the next three decades of activism and advocacy for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults in the Spokane community.



2003: The Spokesman-Review Features Odyssey


2003 saw Odyssey Youth Center (the name adopted by the organization after gaining 501(c)(3) nonprofit status) growing in numbers with every passing day, and continuing to encourage local LGBTQ+ youth and young adults to get involved in the local LGBTQ+ community. This came in the form of activism, fundraising, and, of course, continued participation in all things Pride Month. At the annual Pride Parade and Festival, Odyssey was featured in the Spokesman-Review (above), with a photo of the rainbow-painted cardboard "closet" youth carried during the parade for participants to burst proudly out of. Odyssey youth would continue to "celebrate being alive" for many years to come.



2007 & 2009: Pride Awards For Odyssey Youth


2007 and 2009 were years of immense growth for Odyssey; not only had the new drop-in center in South Perry opened fairly recently (2006), but the Odyssey board had simultaneously voted to be an "out and proud" organization. Drop-in times would no longer be shared with a select few, vetted-and-trusted youth to pass along to friends, but would be posted publicly. The ability to advertise times and location in newspapers and posters across Spokane would see the number of youth attending Odyssey grow substantially. In 2007, Odyssey youth were awarded the first place trophy for their Pride Parade float, full of rainbows and flair; and in 2009, Odyssey would win the Fruit Cup, an award which is now proudly displayed in the Odyssey staff offices.



The 2010s: Odyssey's Teen Zone


With the Pride Parade and Festival continuing to be a highlight of June each year, Odyssey began hosting Teen Zone, a pride space for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-18 to join in the festivities in a safe, teen-geared space. Activities ranged from chalk art on sidewalks to scavenger hunts through the festival to pride-themed art projects. LGBTQ+ youth and young adults continued to march with Odyssey in the Pride Parade, of course; but Teen Zone gave LGBTQ+ youth a space to make their own amidst the day of celebrations.



THIS SATURDAY: Pride Festival & Teen Zone 2022


In just three short days, Odyssey is thrilled to once again be hosting Teen Zone at Spokane Pride! Youth ages 13-18 are invited to march in the Pride Parade with us and join us at Teen Zone during the Pride Festival for activities, swag, and more.


This Pride Month, we're grateful for partnerships with organizations like Spokane Pride and other LGBTQ+ organizations in the Inland Northwest that work to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with festivals, parades, and affirmations galore. We'll see you at Pride!

 

Pride in Perry is coming up soon! Join Odyssey on June 25th from 12-5PM for a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in the South Perry District. Vendors, local businesses, activities and more; you don't want to miss this! For more information, visit odysseyyouth.org.


Interested in Odyssey's programs and resources? Visit our website at odysseyyouth.org/programs or email us at oym@odysseyyouth.org for more information.

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