Have Out of This World Fun at This Year’s Virtual Pizza Klatch Gayla

Big Freedia, PK 2021 Virtual Gayla Headliner

Thanks to ThurstonTalk for this write up of our upcoming Gayla on April 10 (read the full article here)!:

Our annual Gayla is one of our most anticipated events of the year,” says Jay Banks, executive director for Pizza Klatch. “It is a space where we can celebrate and come together with the community. Our youth get to be in a space where they can share their talents and the impact that Pizza Klatch has made on them. Adults in the community and business owners get to show their support for Pizza Klatch and the youth we serve…”

“Have Out of This World Fun at This Year’s Virtual Pizza Klatch Gayla,” ThurstonTalk.com, 3/23/21

A Letter From Our New Executive Director

Jay Banks

June 30th, 2020

Dear community members, colleagues and grantors,

My name is Jay Banks (they/them), and I have accepted the position of Executive Director at Pizza Klatch. I wanted to take the time to introduce myself and give you an idea of the direction Pizza Klatch is headed. We find ourselves in a time of fear due to COVID-19 and the simultaneous uprising in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement finally getting the attention it deserves. This moment has seen many organizations and companies begin to take a hard look at where their values and policies land regarding access and accountability to BIPOC. Pizza Klatch has to do the same.

I moved to Olympia, Washington from Washington, DC after teaching Preschool and Elementary age students for 3 years. I came here specifically to work with the youth in this city and use my lived experiences to uplift and care for students who could see themselves represented in me. I received a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies with an LGBTQ+ focus from George Mason University. During my time there, I helped create and run a student group called TQ Mason that still exists to this day. Supporting Trans and Queer students and community members has always been important work to me. I received my Masters in Early Childhood Education from Trinity Washington University and the Inspired Teachers Certification Program. I was blessed to work with young children for the time that I did and will always have a love for education. I’ve brought my passion for education to training and workshops that I’ve done for Pizza Klatch as a Facilitator/Advocate for the past two years. I am currently finishing up the Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy to help support my second role as the Replication Manager for Pizza Klatch. In August I will be receiving an Ivy League Certificate from University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice and National Arts Strategies.

Since I have been employed at Pizza Klatch I have seen lots of opportunities in regards to how we can show up for BIPOC and the trans community in a more respectful and intentional way. The shift I have seen from an organization that was all white, to the representation we now have for students is vitally important. We still have a lot of work to do, though, and I hope that we can further represent all students and meet their needs. I am proud to be a part of these developments and create these changes along with my coworkers. Moving forward, we plan to restructure the way we do our work to be more equitable, anti-racist, and to uplift the voices of the most marginalized. We will continue to support students during the summer and advocate for rights and justice for all. Through this unprecedented time, we are continuing to work with the schools to ensure LGBTQ+ students receive resources and support they deserve. We would love your continued support as we embark on this collective journey.

Sincerely and with support from PK Staff ,
Jay A. Banks

Statement of support for Black Lives and Defunding the Police






Preface: We acknowledge the following statement is coming late during a time when
genuine solidarity and swift action are vital. We apologize for the harm our silence may
have caused.

Historically, Pizza Klatch has failed its Black community across the board, from
the staff to the youth we serve. Current events have seen continued violence against
Black people globally with an uprising in support of defunding the police. The deaths of
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Elijah McClain are all stories that
have been circulating social media in recent weeks. They lost their lives to police
brutality and white supremacy. Nina Pop, Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, and Tony
McDade are Black Transgender people who have also lost their lives recently, and
these stories have historically gained less attention. The violence enacted against them,
whether through police brutality or another means, is transphobia and transmisogynoir
in action. Both are white supremacy and therefore should concern the well-being of the
LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Between the parades, the parties, and the corporate sponsorship, it is sometimes
difficult to remember that we owe Pride to the strength and direct action of the LGBTQ+
community, especially trans women of color, in rising up against oppressive forces,
particularly the police. The Cooper Donuts Riot of 1959, Compton Cafeteria Riot of
1966, Black Cat Riot of 1967, and of course the most famous Stonewall Riots of 1969,
are all testaments to this. It is impossible, and a huge disservice to our community, to
celebrate Pride without acknowledging that all of our rights stem directly from fighting
racism and the police state. We can not separate LGBTQ struggles from the struggles
of Black and Brown POC–they are not separate issues. Not only do so many people
share these intersecting identities, but they also share the same root of white
supremacy and colonization. This year, Pride is not canceled: Pride is being celebrated
in the same way it began.

Pizza Klatch is celebrating Pride this year by rethinking the ways in which we
uphold white supremacy in our work and our workplace through decision making,
unequal placement of value on labor, and how we would like to move through rebuilding
the organization with anti-racism at the core. We stand in staunch solidarity with the
protestors both locally and worldwide who have given momentum to the movement of
Black Lives Matter and the initiatives to defund the police. Standing up for one’s self and
rising in solidarity for your community are both invaluable virtues we wish to instill in the
youth we work with. Separating the values and culture we would like to see for our own
workplace from the work we do and the spaces we hold for our youth is disingenuous at
best, and completely ineffective at worst. It’s a reality we must work together to change.
Our efforts thus far to counter racism have been lackluster in that they never
moved beyond the training room. Anti-racism isn’t a concept that’s been fully adhered to
within our workspace, and it has hurt our staff of color. White supremacy is a poison that
must be challenged deliberately with vigorous intention and consistency. If not careful, it
seeps into every facet of what we do. We’ve been doing a disservice to our youth of
color by not holding klatches as explicitly anti-racist spaces. This will continue no longer.
It’s time we step up and defend our values through clear boundaries and mutual
agreements between staff, board members, volunteers, youth, and the community at
large. Discussions around intentional anti-racism within klatches will be essential, and
resources created specifically to the benefit of our youth of color will be in order. We
acknowledge that more efficient training and workshops are important but don’t ensure
an anti-racist culture. We must ingrain our values into policy, daily behaviors, attitudes,
and actions if we are to be successful with our intentions.

We are currently not living in the world we want for our youth, so we must do
everything we can to fulfill our commitment to them. This includes centering our work
around their well-being and enrichment in ways we have never before done. While
holding space for youth to be themselves and encouraging them to find their voices, we
need to make sure that no youth has to battle white supremacy alone. This means
facilitating anti-racism among our facilitators and youth in a way that prioritizes the
safety and well-being of POC will be key. Too often spaces meant for LGBTQ+ people
are unsafe for POC. BIPOC voices and needs will be centered.
For Black/Brown/Indigenous People of Color, as well as trans, disabled, and
queer folx, protest is and has always been Pride in action. The Movement for Black
Lives, like Stonewall, is an assertion of the right to dignity, the right to belonging, and
the right to safety.

Signed by the Staff of Pizza Klatch
Jay, El, Sofia, Eyota, Never, dylan

Pizza Klatch COVID-19 Response

Due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, as of March 9, 2020, Pizza Klatch and its satellite groups are closed to in-person, face-to-face gatherings of youth until further notice. Pizza Klatch now has online groups available for LGBTQ+ youth. Check out our COVID-19 Response page located under both ‘Resources’ and ‘News/Events’ on our menu for information regarding our ongoing youth advocacy efforts and resources to aid and support LGBTQ+ communities during the COVID-19 crisis. If you are a student and or the parent of a student and you or your student are in need of one on one support or group support in our online klatches, our COVID-19 Response page has contact information on each of our staff, all of whom work as facilitators within our schools. If you need a picture rather than a name to recall the staff member assigned to your school, you can check out our ‘Meet Our Staff‘ page for photos along with bios of each staff member. You can also contact our general email, info@pizzaklatch.org for any questions or concerns.