Supporting Our Youth Cultivate. Create. Celebrate.

Past Programs

Over the years, SOY has been lucky to run many different projects. All of these projects demonstrate SOY’s commitment to meeting changing community needs and youth interests.

Thank you to all of our friends, partners, supporters and youth who helped to make these projects happen!

If you have a memory of a past SOY program or event that you would like to share, please get in touch!


SOY’s photography project, in partnership with Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, was for youth interested in learning about photography, camera operation, darkroom printing, and creative expression. SHIFT workshops were designed to teach participants the photographic skills necessary for exploring their own artistic pursuits. These skills include: understanding the technical attributes of analog photography, working with a film camera, studio lighting and darkroom print processing. This project was funded by the Toronto Arts Council and facilitated by Chris Ironside.

Super Trans Powers (2013)

Super Trans Powers was a workshop series offered by Supporting Our Youth and ArtReach Toronto for trans, two spirit, genderqueer, gender variant and questioning youth (up to 29 yrs). The series provided an outlet for youth who were tired of how poorly they are represented in the media, fed up with being measured against beauty standards that don’t celebrate them, tired of comic books that fail to represent them, tired of stories about trans people written by cis folks and who wanted to read stories they could actually relate to. The workshops focussed on the creation of an anthology of writing, comic art, illustrations and visual art that represented trans, genderqueer, two spirit, gender variant and questioning youth in a respectful, fun, exciting and empowering ways. They had writing, visual art, and layout workshops and explored finding storytelling skills and new ways to express their unique experiences.

Word Out!

Word Out was a group for QUEER and TRANS youth that met monthly to talk about books and movies.

Queer Noise

Queer Noise was a choral group for youth 26 and under. This exciting musical venture was run in association with Singing OUT!

Chats at the Gallery (2002-2003)

This free speaker series was designed to encourage inter-generational sharing and learning. CHATS brought together important local community members (activists, politicians, business people, artists) and young people, their friends and allies interested in learning about our community and history. Speakers included George Hislop, Carol Thames, Marie Robertson and Rick Bebout.

Re-writing the Script: A Love Letter to Our Families (2001)

With the sponsorship of Supporting Our Youth, the Desi-Queer: South Asian Video Project collective successfully created a video for and about South Asian queers and their families. The project originated at a workshop at the 1998 Desh Pardesh Festival and aimed to help South Asian parents and families in their journey toward understanding and accepting their LGBTQ children and family members. “Re-writing the Script: A Love Letter to Our Families”  launched in Toronto on October 27, 2001. International launches took place in Seattle WA, Montreal QUE, New York NY and Vancouver BC.

Pagan~Beat (2001)

Pagan~Beat was a group and network for LGBTQ youth whose interests were in non-conventional spiritual traditions including Paganism and Wicca. In the summer of 2001, we met outdoors in parks and natural spaces to drum, share and enjoy spiritual ritual. In the fall, Pagan~Beat morphed into Essence.

Eco-Queers (2000-2002)

Eco-Queers ran regular meetings for two years from 2000-2002. Eco-Queers was an open group for youth, queers and anyone who cared about the planet to meet, activate, share, network and build! We met once every few months and had an active e-mail list serve. During the course of it’s life, Eco-Queers organized a number of special events and actions including The Eco-Queers Rooftop Garden Tour and Greening a Queer Planet, a forum on environmental issues where the discussion ranged from animal liberation to urban sprawl to the relation between homophobia, racism and environmentalism. Featured speakers at the forum were Elizabeth Christie, Mark Haslam, Florence Heung and Mirha-Soleil Ross and the moderator was Ken Waston.

Queers Making Trouble (2000)

“Queers Making Trouble: Anyone Can Play” was a community event organized by Supporting Our Youth and held on Saturday, June 17, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, featuring a host of accomplished artists and activists including SOY’s queer youth in activism contest winners Val Colden, Julia Gonsalves and Christina Strang , speakers Anjula Gogia , George Hislopand Mirha-Soleil Ross , The Brunswick Four performance ensemble, musicianBoo Watson , free-style artist Paula “Bomba” Gonzalez , presenters Anna Camilleri and Shira Stern , curator/filmmaker Richard Fung and MCs TJ Bryan aka Tenacious and Rick Bebout .

Queers Making Trouble was created to recognize and bring together the queer youth in activism contest winners and long-time queer activists. Most remarkable about the event is the links made between the presenters and the audience in an open mic forum and between issues, not mutually exclusive, ranging from rights for transexual and transgendered people, globalization, censorship, white supremacy, racism, animal rights, feminism and ageism.

The event documented and celebrated activism and gains made from the 1940’s with a view to the future and the changing face of queer activism. Queers Making Trouble was the culmination of a community partnership with Bleecker Street Cooperative Homes. The Bleecker Word Initiative, a word-based community development project coordinated by Anna Camilleri, featured several components including creative writing workshops for and with queer youth and co-op membership, writing tutorials and public presentation including radio interviews on CIUT and CKLN, postcard production of the contest winner’s essays and publication in Xtra!, The Toronto Star’s website and forthcoming in Reluctant Hero magazine.

Summer ’99 Project (1999)

The Summer ’99 Project was an interdisciplinary theatre/visual art community art project for queer youth under 25. It was conceptualized and carried out in partnership with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and Arts Starts Neighbourhood Cultural Centre.

The six main objectives of this project were to offer at-risk youth summer employment in a creative arts/community program; to help these youth develop skills in the arts; to teach young lesbian, gay and bisexual people about their community and cultural history; to provide youth with access to adult role models and mentors; to increase youth visibility within the broader lesbian and gay community.

The project began in July 1999, with Franco Boni  and Florencia Berinstein  as the two lead artists, and Andrea Ridgley  as the youth support worker. The 11 youth selected to participate in the project came from varying backgrounds and life experiences and ranged in age between 16 and 24. Over an eight-week period the group researched significant people and events in Toronto’s queer history, workshopped with professional visual and theatre artists, and created their own work. The result was the creation of 13 theatre pieces and 2 visual art installations – all inspired by people, places and events in Toronto’s queer history.

The visual arts component had two main products. The first product was twelve historical placemats. Each group member chose a historical event to commemorate in placemat form. These were used at the Devon Restaurant and Woody’s restaurant (both queer historical sites). The second product was a set of twelve poster panels. Each person chose an issue or theme concerning gay, lesbian and bisexual rights, and created a poster using the many techniques learned in the workshops. These were displayed at the 519 Church Community Centre for two weeks.

The theatre component culminated in thirteen performances at twelve different sites in and around Toronto’s queer community. The walking tours were guided bySarah Stanley  , former executive director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, andRick Bebout  , founder and writer of The Body Politic.

The project and final shows were covered by local and national media, including: the CBC National radio, City TV news, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, and the front cover of Xtra! magazine.

Sports Heros (1999)

“Sports Heroes: Paving the Way for Queer Youth” was a community event organized by Supporting Our Youth and held on Monday June 21st 1999, featuring famous and inspirational Canadian sports figures. Five professional and/or elite athletes were brought together to participate in a community panel facilitated byProfessor Brian Pronger from the University of Toronto Physical Education Department.

The participants in this forum were: Betty Baxter – Olympic Volleyball Captain, Mark Tewksbury – Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist, Mark Leduc – Olympic Boxing Silver Medalist, Savoy Howe – Provincial Women’s Boxing Champion.

Sports Heroes was designed to stimulate, educate and encourage broad community dialogue about lesbian, gay and bisexual youth and sports. More specifically, the forum served to address the issue of homophobia in mainstream sports and to encourage the adult lesbian and gay community to begin to make space for queer youth in their sports leagues. The thought-provoking and powerful evening generated extraordinary amounts of media attention, bringing the issue of sports and homophobia out into the open.

Rhubarb Under 21 Series (1999)

The “Rhubarb! Under-21 Series Review” was a Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Production in association with Supporting Our Youth (SOY). The event took place on February 15, 1999 at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, and featured three performance readings of plays written by playwrights under 21 years of age. Performances by the Baroque musical group, La Folia, and the band Overlap opened and closed the show.

The Rhubarb! Festival is produced by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. This Festival, which has been in existence for 21 years, is a forum for new and innovative theatre productions. The “Under 21 Series” is the first initiative to formalize youth involvement at Rhubarb, and highlight the talent and creativity that exists in young people as well as providing a chance for youth to see other young people’s work within a professional space

Street Youth Poster Project (1998)

Between April and June of 1998, Supporting Our Youth had the opportunity to partner with YouthLink Inner City and Turning Point Youth Services in the production of a poster geared towards lesbian, gay and bisexual youth and street youth serving agencies. For four weeks in May street youth were provided with the materials and space (YouthLink Inner City) to produce art work, images and slogans that would best confront homophobia in street youth serving agencies (shelters, group homes, drop-ins, etc.).

The Street Youth Poster Project provided a safe space for lesbian, gay and bisexual street youth to be creative and informally discuss issues connected to the street and sexuality with one another and adult volunteers. It resulted in the creation of an informative and colourful poster that has since been distributed to shelters, hostels, drop-ins and group homes around the city with the aim to promote safe space for lesbian gay and bisexual youth within those housing contexts.

In addition to managing the distribution of the poster to street youth serving agencies throughout the city, SOY also facilitated media attention for both the open house and the poster launch at the Toronto Mayor’s Pride Week Breakfast on Wednesday, June 24th 1998.

Creating a Caring Community (1998)

Creating a Caring Community (CCC) was an open community forum designed to promote Supporting our Youth and to bring community development issues into the open.

CCC was held at the 519 Community Centre on Monday October 5th, 1998 and it generated provocative and thoughtful discussions within our community on the subject of adult support of youth and relationships between adults and youth. One hundred community members attended the forum and two community media leaders continued the discussion on a broader base.

Panelists featured were: Rachel Giese – Xtra magazine Julie White – The Trillium Foundation Sarah Stanley – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre James Anderson – Mr. Leatherman Toronto 1998 Jennifer Miller – Ontario Young People’s Alliance Debbie Douglas – The Inside Out Film & Video Festival Kristyn Wong-Tam – Associate Broker, Coldwell-Banker Robert Nelder – Supporting Our Youth Koji Nakamachi – Toronto Separate School Board, SOY

Bev Lepischak – the SOY supervisor – was the moderator.

After the event, Xtra! Magazine published a copy of Koji Nakamachi’s speech and CITY-TV used footage of this event for their October 18th episode of The Q-Files. The Q-Files used this footage to introduce a panel discussion on role models for gay and straight youth.