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'Walk this way' | LGBT youth in Placer County find visibility through Pride, Camp Fruit Loop

LGBT organizations in Placer County are excited about what they've accomplished and are working toward more progress in the future.

ROSEVILLE, Calif — Groups in Placer County made history this year with the first in-person Pride event and Camp Fruit Loop, a camp for LGBT youth. LGBT organizations are excited about what they've accomplished and are working toward more progress in the future.

Camp Fruit Loop

Camp Fruit Loop, which happened in early July, was in the works for about three years. The Landing Spot, which is a support group for LGBT teens and their adult caregivers, raised money for the camp through drag shows and donations.

There were 19 teenagers who attended the camp from July 7-9.

Casey Tinnin is a Pastor at Loomis Basin Congregational Church United Church of Christ and the founder of The Landing Spot. He said at the beginning of the camp, the participants walked through rainbow streamers and shared their names, pronouns, and what they are passionate about.

At the camp, they did activities like karaoke, hiking, crafts and resource sharing.

"Hearing them talk about, like, even the teachers at their schools. Like, who do you go to? Who's your favorite teacher that is welcoming and accepting like this? Resource sharing — this is survival building right in our own community," Tinnin said.

Tinnin said for the future of the camp, he hopes some of the older kids will return as camp counselors and mentors. He also hopes there will be a junior high component and career development resources.

"The world is tough out there, baby. It's hard and there are not enough adults in the world who are willing to be mentors, who are willing to be elders. You know, there's a difference in being an adult and being an elder. An elder says 'walk this way,' and so we're trying to create in Placer County the ability for young people to walk this way," Tinnin said.

Tinnin said no matter how rocky the road is ahead, the more people who walk it, the smoother it will get.

"Because there are so few resources outside of The Landing Spot and PFLAG, the reality is that as I was saying earlier, young people do not see themselves," Tinnin said.

Visibility in Placer County 

Mollie Murbach wears many hats as a board member for PFLAG Greater Placer County and works with the Placer Pride Committee.

"Visibility doesn't look the same for every student or for every youth or for every queer person, and that having all of these different organizations that work together can provide different opportunities where someone can feel seen and feel visible," Murbach said.

Kyle Ketsdever is a board member on PFLAG, as well as the Secretary of the Board for Prism-Q, which is soon to be rebranding. He said Prism-Q started up a few years ago and was trying to create a center in Placer County, but it lost traction during the pandemic. Now, he and others are working to revive it and work towards creating a center.

Ketsdever said he was born and raised in Placer County and it's interesting to see how the area has changed.

"Just seeing how far we've come, like it is great being able to see 12-13-year-olds, other youth, be able to just run around in Royer Park with the flag capes and just be themselves because I just didn't have that visibility," Ketsdever said. "Growing up to know that was a possibility for me, like even though I could tell that I was not straight at such a young age."

Credit: Placer Pride

Daniella Zimmerman is on the board for PFLAG and Prism-Q. Zimmerman is an ally and semi-retired teacher and she said there's a lot of collaboration between the different LGBT organizations in Placer County.

"Even though there's these different organizations, we all overlap and intertwine and are working towards the same thing," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said she moved to Auburn in 1994 and the demographics in Placer County are shifting.

"It's changed a lot for the better, but there's still a long way to go," Zimmerman said.

What a great day to celebrate diversity. Love all that showed up to participate and all the positive vibes from the people that acknowledged our presence in Roseville.

Posted by Placer Pride on Sunday, September 19, 2021

Placer Pride

The first in-person Placer Pride event was at the end of May so it wouldn't interfere with other Pride events in Northern California.

"It was really incredible. A lot of people were just expressing how grateful they were to have visibility here in Placer County, which is historically a very conservative community space, where we're a large community, but one that isn't very visible, and so to be able to hold this event and bring the community together in such a public way to kick off Pride Month just really was amazing." Murbach said.

Credit: Placer Pride

Latino Leadership Council

Amy Barrios is a youth coordinator at the Latino Leadership Council and was at a booth at Placer Pride. She said it was her first Pride.

"It was awesome just to see all these organizations come together — everybody just being truly themselves, you know, supporting one another," Barrios said.

Barrios said the youth program has been in place for two years.

"The county is definitely more white than anything, but we do have our minorities. Our organization works with one of those minorities, and we're actually the only Latino-focused nonprofit in the county that focuses just on connecting Latino families to those resources, navigating those systems, providing translation services, things like that," Barrios said.

The Latino Leadership Council offers many different programs and services and everything is bilingual and free, according to Barrios. But, she said when it comes to pride and queer issues, it can still be a taboo topic in her culture.

"Religion plays a big role in Latino households, and so that's also one of the barriers when it comes to connecting specifically our youth to those LGBTIQ+ resources... because there's fear in these kids because of how they're being raised because of what they're being taught. Those values and beliefs, for the most part, are being taught that they clash and that they cannot work together and so my role here is to provide those kinds of support to the youth," Barrios said.

Barrios said being at Placer Pride and seeing young people find a place to feel comfortable was such a positive experience because growing up is hard and finding a place to fit in is so meaningful.

"We have a good group out here in Placer County and even in Sacramento County of young people who want change, who realized that of the traditions — that some of them are amazing and some of our traditions are beautiful. But there's some other things that could definitely change for the better, and so I'm excited to see you know what the next five years have for us," Barrios said.

Learn more about the Latino Leadership Council HERE.

Chapa-De Indian Health

Chapa-De Indian Health was another sponsor of Placer Pride.

"Our main passion is really to provide compassionate, quality-based care for American Indians and underserved populations and through that really focusing on making sure that we are diverse both in the folks that we employ and the people that we serve," said Dr. Alinea Stevens, the medical director at Chapa-De.

Stevens said Chapa-De's passion is to serve the LGBTQIA+ community and the two-spirit community as well. Stevens said two-spirit is a way for some American Indian tribes to reflect the nuanced understandings of gender roles and spirituality compared to the Western culture, which can be more dichotomous.

Stevens said people can get gender-affirming care and medications as well as references for surgical intervention. Their therapists also help with some of the processes. Chapa-De also has in-depth knowledge of how to navigate Medi-Cal and get some of those things covered.

"I would also just say that visibility, where the majority of our providers have their pronouns on our little tags here and rainbow flags and has that kind of physical visibility of acceptance. And that is nice for people to see when there's a physical object on their provider that shows that they're interested in being inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community, and particularly with having pronouns present. I think it's very helpful that people are thinking about giving good care to all people." said Dr. Marlowe Dieckmann, a physician at Chapa-De.

There is a clinic in Auburn in Placer County and one in Grass Valley in Nevada County.

If a patient is interested in getting care there, they can call (530) 887-2800 and make an appointment. Chapa-De takes patients if they're American Indian, or if they have Medi-Cal or are uninsured.

Learn more about Chapa-De HERE.

What's Next?

Many of the organizations say they are looking at creating a center or space where they can gather in Placer County.

Casey Tinnin with The Landing Spot said his vision for Placer County includes an LGBT Center, and emergency housing for LGBT teens and young adults.

"If we could create a space, a multigenerational space, where young people could see older queer folks in our community who are thriving, who are living their best life, who have become successful, it might give them just a little more hope and that's what we're after here in Placer County," Tinnin said.

Ketsdever said the people involved in Prism-Q are seeing the need again for a center in Placer County, specifically one that focuses on serving youth.

"So we are kind of in the early stages, seeking funding, getting involved with things like Placer Pride to create this center and create a space where people can congregate, have community access, support groups, access resources, and just really serve as kind of a hub. We have a variety of resources in Placer County, but they're kind of like spread out and there's not really like something at the center bringing them all together, so we want to kind of serve as that focal point where we can connect everyone with all of those other entities," Ketsdever said.

Tinnin said ultimately the future for the LGBT community in Placer County depends on everyone coming together and deciding what kind of community they want and how to celebrate diversity.

"When I am living my best, authentic life, and when I am trying to promote in this community is a safe space for queer kids to grow and to thrive," Tinnin said. "I know that no matter the bumps ahead, no matter how rocky the road that we are, we are flattening the road for the kids behind us and that's the future that we want for all people, right?"

Resources in Placer County

Here are some of the resources specifically geared toward the LGBT community and allies.

The Landing Spot  

  • The Landing Spot is a non-religious support group for LGBTQIA+ youth and their parents in Placer County. They host monthly support groups at a church and organize activities, speakers and events, according to their website.

PFLAG

Prism-Q

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