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YEPP holds second annual 'Rise Up' event
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2019-11-16

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Youth Empowerment Performance Project ( YEPP ) held its second annual Rise Up: A Celebration of Resilience Nov. 13 at Chicago Theater Works.

YEPP Board Member and Co-Chair La Tony welcomed the more than 200 people in attendance and called attention to the upcoming Nov. 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience. They also recognized Youth Homelessness Awareness month and made note of the high percentage of LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness.

A video showcasing the Forging From Fire performance from YEPP's 2017 theater production was played ahead of remarks by YEPP member Angel Norstrom.

YEPP member Sticky Bunz did her signature drag performance while YEPP leader Antonio Gray told his story in spoken word and noted that 40 percent of LGBTQ youth experience homelessness and are twice as likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual/cisgender peers.

Other speakers included YEPP Youth Programs Coordinator Black Pruitt and YEPP Board Member and Treasurer Joy Messinger.

Nordstrom also invited attendees to bring offerings to the TDOR remembrance table that named and honored the 25 known transgender people who have died in the United States this past year—Dana Martin ( 31 ), Ellie Marie Washtock ( 38 ), Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon ( 27 ), Claire Legato ( 21 ), Muhlaysia Booker ( 23 ), Michelle 'Tamika' Washington ( 40 ), Paris Cameron ( 20 ), Chynal Lindsey ( 26 ), Johana 'Joa' Medina Leon ( 25 ), Chanel Scurlock ( 23 ), Brooklyn Lindsey ( 32 ), Denali Berries Stuckey ( 29 ), Tracy Single ( 22 ), Bubba Walker ( 55 ), Kiki Fantroy ( 21 ), Pebbles LaDime Doe ( 24 ), Jordan Cofer ( 22 ), Bailey Reeves ( 17 ), Bee Love Slater ( 23 ), Ja'Leyah Jamagio Jamar Berryman, Elisha Chanel Stanley ( 46 ), Itali Marlowe ( 29 ), Zoe Spears ( 23 ) and Brianna 'BB' Hill ( 30 ).

The night also featured DJ Stephen Raskauskas, food courtesy of Premiere Catering and Events of Chicago's Chef Scott Lloyd, a raffle, photo booth and cash bar.

YEPP is a safe space in Chicago for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness to heal from trauma through artistic expression, exploration, storytelling and performance. See www.wesayyepp.com/ for more information.


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