A safe place for LGBTQ teens to be themselves.
The Siouxland Pride Alliance is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to connecting and protecting the local LGBTQ community. They operate from the First Unitarian Church at 2508 Jackson Street in Sioux City.
“When the Siouxland Pride Alliance was formed in 2012, there were no community organizations that dealt with the full spectrum of people in the LGBTQ community,” explained co-founder of the organization, Karen Mackey.
Although the area had GSA’s at the high schools and some of the colleges, and there was a gay men’s support group, it wasn’t enough to fulfill the complete needs of the Siouxland LGBTQ community.
“One of the main reasons for all of this was the suicide in Northwest Iowa of a young teen; he lived in a small town not far from here. He committed suicide after being bullied on social media by his schoolmates because he was gay. That really was an eye-opener for us that things were still that bad. They may not be our blood, but those are our children. We can’t have any more kids dying just because they are gay,” stated Karen.
Siouxland Pride Alliance has groups available for teens in the LGBTQ community; all groups meet at the Unitarian Church.
“For almost two years, we’ve had a youth support group that meets once a month, the second Sunday of the month, at 1:30 to 3 p.m. We’d get the kids together, share some food and drinks, and have activities. The group’s parents would sometimes plan other gatherings for the kids to do, but we meet once a month.
Starting in April, we have an additional support group for teens that meets weekly on Friday nights from 5:30-7. Because our LGBTQ kids, whether they are trans or not, are going through a lot of trauma right now because of the recent loss that the governor signed into law. They’re going through this themselves or their friends,” shared Karen.
Although the Sunday group is geared more towards fellowship and community, and the Friday group is more structured to that of a support group, Karen said they are conducted in a very supportive and nonjudgmental manner.
“Participate in the group as much as you are comfortable with doing. You can talk as much or as little as you want. There is no judging. Some people come for half an hour and then need to be somewhere else or to another meeting. It is very casual. Sometimes there are snacks to eat; there’s always something to drink (tea, coffee, juice, soda). It’s a safe place to sit back and relax, and the only requirement is to be of the LGBTQ community or an ally. As long as you support our community, you are welcome at any of our events. We’re not going to push you to anything beyond that,” said Karen.
For more information about the Siouxland Pride Alliance, and the services and programs they offer, you can visit the Siouxland Pride Alliance Facebook Page, call 712-223-0931, or text that same number. Also, more information is available on this entire podcast at Empowering Conversations.
By Amy Buster