As festival-goers poured into Rotary Park for “Youthfest” on Sunday afternoon, Tiospaye, the event’s nonprofit organizer, looked well on its way to accomplishing its ambitious goal: Raising $30,000 to pay for a deck for the La Plata County Youth Center and secure a physical home for the 4 Corners Rainbow Youth Center, a new endeavor spearheaded by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and their adult supporters in Durango.
At the entrance, where adults paid $15 to enter and children got in for free, Tiospaye’s Lora Swartz and Deb Buck said they hoped to attract “people from all walks of life” to make merry and bid in their “awesome silent auction.”
Across the park, Crystal Wolfchild, one of Tiospaye’s leaders, manned the sushi station as the band strummed away under the gazebo. She said the event was “really generated from a vision” that allowed Tiospaye’s members to fashion “something out of nothing” by pounding the pavement to get donations from local businesses.
The 200-person event marks an important culmination for Tiospaye, a community-service organization founded in January and premised on the idea that personal transformation can and does have a global effect. Wolfchild said Tiospaye decided to concentrate on helping youths in the Four Corners deal with bullying, gender and sexuality after a Durango teenager recently committed suicide.
Jennifer Stucka, one of the organizers behind the 4 Corners Rainbow Youth Center, said Youthfest was “amazing,” and with the money it helped raise, the Rainbow Center would probably be able to afford a year’s rent. She said they’d tentatively secured space at the Community Church in Main Mall.
“Its a beautiful space: 2,000 square feet with separate rooms,” she said.
It’s well-placed; teenagers can access it by trolley.
Denae Benally said while college campuses have all kinds of social justice clubs promoting feminism, gay rights and ethnic identity, “for youths, there’s really nothing.”
In light of her own experience of coming out, she said it is “amazing that we’re going to have this loving support group” for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens.
As she spoke, rain started coming down hard. They danced anyway.
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An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect dollar amount donated by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Growth Fund prior to the event. Incorrect information was given to the Herald.