This year Silver Lining Mentoring took part in the Boston Pride Parade for the first time. It was an opportunity for SLM young people, mentors, staff, family and friends to celebrate our own personal identities and organizational values within Boston’s larger, thriving LGBTQ+ community. We are proud to have young people vanguard SLM’s position in celebrating diversity and inclusion across all of our identities and to help make up a group of more than 20 people to march this year.

While taking part in Boston Pride was new for SLM, the organization has long since known the importance of celebrating and supporting young people who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ population. For more than five years, SLM has had an initiative to find mentors within the LGBTQ+ community in order to respond to the fact that there is an over-representation of young people in foster care who identify as gender and sexual minorities.

This year’s Pride participation was inspired by SLM’s Youth Advisory Board. When they were looking for events to take part in throughout the year. From that suggestion, SLM jumped into taking part in this year’s Pride and hosted a Youth Advisory group event to watch a queer documentary and then prepared signs for the march. During the preparation, participants highlighted important topics that relate to Pride and LGBTQ+ visibility like, visibility of identities beyond gay and lesbian like bisexual and pansexual, the interactions of race and sexuality, and navigating straight and cis-normative spaces. It was great that people took the time to make signs and talk about specific causes within the larger LGBTQ+ community that they identified with. And, while having the larger day to celebrate is important, SLM wanted young people, mentors and staff to have the opportunity to share messages and thoughts that were important to them; harkening back to the founding reasons behind pride, while still navigating current pride concerns around capitalism and rainbow washing. Several young people reflected that, “It’s about all of us coming together, celebrating, and being proud, despite our differences,” and taking part is about, “knowing where we started, how far we came, and where we’re going.”

On Saturday, June 9, SLM’s Pride contingency marched 2.27 miles through thousands of people, waving, cheering and affirming our participation in the festivities. After completing the route, one young person remarked that SLM, “taking the time out to be a part of something so big is very important. It shows SLM cares.” And one thing that SLM believes for everyone is: We Thrive When We Matter.