Youth leader on a roll
by Cynthia Laird
Energetic gay youth activist Jason Galisatus was the winner in this new category in this year's Best of the Gays. The Stanford University sophomore, 19, heads up Bay Area Youth Summit, a nonprofit organization focusing on middle school students who are struggling with coming out as LGBT.
Prior to forming BAYS, Galisatus led the gay-straight alliance at Aragon High School in San Mateo. He started organizing a youth conference in 2011 and following its success, he teamed up with other young adults to create BAYS.
One of the unique things about BAYS is that it is a youth-led organization. That aspect has attracted supporters such as gay state Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), who told the Bay Area Reporter last year that he believes the nonprofit has found a niche within the broader LGBT community that needs to be filled.
Galisatus said he was proud to win the readers' poll award for best LGBT youth activist under 25.
"I'm so grateful to the San Francisco LGBT community and the B.A.R. for this honor," he said in an email. "It is not often that youth activists are recognized for their work, and I am so thrilled to see this trend changing."
Readers may recall that Galisatus was featured in the B.A.R. a couple of weeks ago as he is one of a dozen people nominated for community grand marshal of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade. BAYS was nominated for organizational grand marshal. Public voting is now under way.
"I hope these honors can be an opportunity to encourage our fellow youth to decide to make the difference in their communities," Galisatus said of the grand marshal nominations.
He wanted to point out that BAYS is in the midst of organizing its biennial youth leadership conference, the Summit, which takes place Saturday, May 11 at Aragon High School. The daylong event will feature RuPaul's Drag Race Season three winner Raja Gemini, Scouts for Equality Executive Director Zach Wahls, Academy Award-winning Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and past San Francisco Pride grand marshals the Reverend Roland Stringfellow and Andrea Shorter. Details can be found at http://www.bayareayouthsummit.org.