Finding Joy in Dark Times, One Red Nose at a Time

by Ted Lewis

In 2023, we continued to see an avalanche of anti-LGBTQ+ and specifically anti-transgender legislation across the country. It was another record-setting year for the introduction of hateful laws, including bans on transgender girls playing sports, youth accessing gender-affirming care, curriculum censorship and book bans — all of which have negatively impacted the lives and mental health of LGBTQ+ youth.

At this moment, for our young people, it can be really difficult to find joy. However, one thing that does spark joy in our young people is seeing the commitment of adults to make the world a better place for them, and that’s just what we witnessed at HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE summits in Atlanta and Denver this year.

Time to THRIVE in the Deep South was amazing! It was so nice to see other young people wanting to help improve the lives of other LGBTQ+ youth. - Katie

Time to Thrive, Atlanta

HRC Foundation hosted Time to THRIVE in the Deep South in Atlanta, Georgia, in February and Time to THRIVE in the Mountain States in Denver, Colorado, in April. The two summits welcomed over 400 educators, social workers, counselors and youth-serving professionals who took time on a Saturday to connect and learn how to better support LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and communities. Seeing so many dedicated adults who understand that LGBTQ+ youth deserved to be affirmed, welcomed and supported, brought so much joy to our Youth Ambassadors who attended.

At Time to THRIVE in the Mountain States I had a blast learning from some amazing workshops and even more amazing people. I was able to meet people from my area who I'd have never known without it and I now know that there are more incredible advocates and youth serving professionals! - Ash

Time to Thrive, Denver

LGBTQ+ youth, like our Youth Ambassadors, are looking for joy at a time when their very existence is being debated in the media, in their communities and by elected officials. Joy comes from knowing you are not alone. Joy comes from knowing that others care about you. Joy comes from seeing loving, affirming parents and caregivers. Joy comes from seeing a possible future for who you are in the lives of adults who share your identities. And joy comes from coming together in community and committing to make positive change, and that’s just what we strive for with Time to THRIVE. We can only thrive if we have joy.

But we can’t do this work alone, and we are grateful to our many partners and sponsors who ensure events like Time to THRIVE continue to bring joy to LGBTQ+ youth and their families. The Red Nose Day campaign, an initiative of Comic Relief US, has the simple goal of “a healthy future for all children.” To work toward that goal, Comic Relief US invested in HRC Foundation's youth programming, including Time to THRIVE. On May 25, we celebrate Red Nose Day to raise awareness of inequities & help to create a world where children are safe, healthy, educated and empowered now and in the future.

HRC is honored to have the support of Comic Relief US and is excited to celebrate Red Nose Day. Whether it’s a red nose, a Pride flag or an HRC sticker, youth are looking for positive affirmation in who they are and support in staying happy and healthy.