Be Proud. Be Yourself.
Photos Courtesy of "Julian's Reverse Quinceanera"

Be Proud. Be Yourself.

Julian’s Reverse Quinceanera

By Steven O. Evans, PhD

Coming out is rarely an easy process. But it can be even more of challenge for those in their teen years. Julian’s Fountain of Youth (JFOY) creates opportunities for LGBT youth to partake in activities that include experiential learning and life-enrichment strategies at no cost to them or their families. The goal of these initiatives is to produce future community leaders, while enriching the lives of our LGBT youth both locally and nationally.

On Saturday, September 28, 2019, JFOY will host its annual Reverse Quinceanera. This year’s event will be at the Venue on Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, FL. The theme will be, “El Baile De Las Reinas / The Queens Ball,” so come dressed as your favorite “Queen.” We talked with Julian Cavazos about the upcoming event.

Steven O. Evans, PhD: What inspired you to start JFOY?

Julian Cavazos: I was inspired to start JFOY over 10 years ago when I took experiential learning courses and thought what a wonderful gift this would have been when I was a teen. I made a commitment to myself that I would someday provide these courses free of charge to any LGBTQ teen who wanted to take them. I then committed myself to spending several years volunteering in the nonprofit arena learning the ins and outs of a non profit.

Photos Courtesy of "Julian's Reverse Quinceanera"

SOE: Tell our readers one of the most life-changing youth stories from JFOY.

JC: One of the most life-changing moments for me happened at last year’s Fort Lauderdale Youth Empowerment Retreat (FLYER) Graduation. One of our youth was on the spectrum and pretty much stayed to himself. He wouldn’t let anyone touch him nor would he touch anyone. Following the retreat at the graduation, before we did our presentation, his mother came over to me and told me that her son for the first time in his life, came over to her and hugged her, she wept as she told me the only way she could ever get a hug from him, was if she pulled him over and initiated hugging. As emotional as that was, it got even better. When I called his name to pick up his FLYER certificate, he took the certificate and hugged me. It was truly life changing and a gift that is beyond measure.

SOE: Tell us about the upcoming Reverse Quinceanera.

JC: The Reverse Quinceanera is an annual fundraising event that started eight years ago. What was supposed to be a one time fundraiser is now the biggest fundraising event we host. We invite 7-9 contestants to participate in a “Not So Beautiful, Not So Talented but Very Funny Pageant.” The show will open with the Telenovela – Myrna’s In Love and of course Myrna’s big opening number. This year’s event theme is El Baile De Las Reinas/The Queens Ball, so everyone is invited to come dressed as your favorite “Queen.” The event is Saturday, September 28, 2019, from 7-10PM, and followed by The Queens Ball, 10PM-1AM.

SOE: Who is usually in attendance?

JC: The show sells out every year. It’s highly possible the show will be sold out by the time this article comes out, so contact us as soon as you can to make sure you’re able to get tickets. We have family and friends from around the country fly in for this event. They come from as far away as Portland, Sacramento, Houston, Washington, West Virginia, Chicago, and many other places. While this is a family-friendly event, it’s requested that attendees be 21 and over. Two cocktails and dinner are included with all table and seat purchases.

SOE: How does the event benefit JFOY?

JC: All the money goes to support JFOY’s annual events, such as the LGBTQ+ Prom, sending youth to Camp Lightbulb’s camps around the country, the FLYER retreat, and our youth going to One Magical Weekend.

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