Richard's Family is hosting its first fundraiser this weekend.
"We're calling it our coming out," founder and leader Cliff Atterberry said.
On Saturday, members of the LGBTQ youth group will be raising money to register the group as a nonprofit, Atterberry said. The family-friendly event begins at 4 p.m. at the Veterans Park amphitheater in Fulton. It will feature free games and an 8 p.m. showing of the spooky classic Hocus Pocus. Group members will also be selling T-shirts and food and hosting a silent auction.
Items up for auction include paintings by local artist Darien McFadden, gift cards from frozen drink haven The Station and a 90-minute massage, among others.
"Any money left over after we register as a nonprofit will go toward activities for the youth," Atterberry said. "Any youth in the community is welcome to attend our activities, though our focus is on LGBTQ youth. We're thinking about bowling nights, game nights, crafts."
The group also brings in educators to talk about health care issues and other relevant topics. Thanks to a book donation from "Accidental Activist" author David Collins, the group is starting its own resource library.
Founded earlier this summer, Richard's Family takes its name from Atterberry's uncle.
"In 1992, Richard died of AIDS," Atterberry said. "When he came out, a lot of our family disowned him. We want our youth to have a feeling of belonging and family when they come out."
Atterberry himself struggled with feelings of loneliness and isolation as he grew up, and wanted to make sure other LGBT youths had somewhere to go.
"The youngest member we've had is 11 years old," he said. "We've had attendees from Mexico, because there's no group like this there."
The wider community has been welcoming and supportive as well, he added. Area businesses and organizations including 1Canoe2, the Fulton Rotary Club, Spectrum Health Care, Precision Hauling and At Home Rentals have stepped up to sponsor Saturday's event.
"It's heartwarming that the community is backing us," Atterberry said.
Richard's Family meets at the Fulton Missouri Job Center (512 Market St.) 7-8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. Atterbery can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-590-1442