On Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network will be hosting its annual central valley conference for LGBTQ+ youth, Expression Not Suppression (ENS). This is an event that I look forward to every year. People from all across the central valley come to Fresno on this day to participate and connect. Youth and supporting adults can attend a full range of workshops containing a variety of things like the gender spectrum, different identities in the community, comprehensive sex ed, grassroots organizing, and the legal rights LGBTQ+ youth have in schools. Participants have the opportunity to interact with local organizations that support them and with other LGBTQ+ folks looking for community and solidarity. There is no event that has impacted my life as much as Expression Not Suppression.
My first time attending ENS was in 2012. I was a sophomore at the time and I had been involved with the Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) club at my high school for a little over a year. Eventually I was connected with the then current GSA Network Program coordinator, a fierce Chicana woman that laid the foundation for my activism. At the age of 14, this event allowed me to put a name to my identity, instilled me with a sense of power, and connected me to a supportive community in ways I never imagined. Out of all the events GSA Network put together, the most life changing for me has always been ENS.
For me, ENS has always been a place of inspiration. Every year I meet people with unique experiences and I am constantly moved by the resilience and power of central valley youth. Whether it’s the life saving information gained from the workshops, the plethora of connections folks make, or the creative expressions found during the end day drag and talent show, there’s something here for everyone.
Expression Not Suppression 2017 will be held on Saturday, April 22nd, from 9 am to 8 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church (1343 E Barstow Ave, Fresno, CA 93710). This is a free event open to all LGBTQ+ and ally youth. Advisors, parents, and educators are also encouraged to attend or volunteer for the event.