By: Tom Medina-Castrejón
I was not planning on going to the conference, because I’d never gone on any trip without my family before. But I’m so glad my mom pushed me anyway. After arriving at the Philadelphia airport, being patted down, and texting my mom a hundred times, I finally boarded the plane, with MR and MJ, the facilitators of Philadelphia Young Playwrights’ Queer Theater Workshop. From the moment I had woken up that day, I knew I was going on an adventure. When we landed in Memphis, Tennessee, my legs were all wobbly. Partly because I’d been in the sky for two hours, but partly also because we were so close. Who were these people going to be? Would I fit in?
This conference was a very positive experience for me. I learned that I am capable of going out of my comfort-zone and getting through it. The people there were so friendly and welcoming. I met some lovely Latinx people with whom I got to talk about my heritage about, and it was a wonderful experience to feel acknowledged and seen. I am immensely grateful for whoever put together all the lists with everyone’s name, pronouns, and contact information. It made it so much easier for me to approach people despite my social anxiety. I did not expect so many hugs when it was time to say goodbye. And to whoever provided food for us, thank you so much, it was delicious. I’m really happy I was given the opportunity to go to this PYTA conference, and I hope to go again next year. Seeing all those people there so clearly passionate about their work gave me just the boost of energy that I needed. I’m now equipped with more experience, contacts, and knowledge. I feel that I can go out there and tell the stories that are inside of me, and perhaps help others do the same.
About the conference
Every year since 2010, the Pride Youth Theater Alliance invites directors, educators, artists and activists to come together for week of workshops, sessions, and events focusing on best practices in queer youth theater.
The Queer Youth Theater Conference is not a typical conference where a select group of experts in the field deliver seminars to an audience; this is an event in which everyone is a leader and will contribute to the collective experience, both in planning and content. The conference is designed to allow for peer to peer learning and requires a high level of participation from everyone attending. All participants come ready to share the story of their organization, their work, and their expertise.