NEW YORK STATE FAIRGROUNDS (WSYR-TV) — Of all the people at the State Fair Pride Day’s education expo at the Chevy Court Pavilion, one volunteer was notably younger than the rest.
For being so young, only 12 years old, Charlotte Carbonetto is impressively self-aware.
“I’m still kind of confused,” Charlotte said to NewsChannel 9. “I just know I’m not straight.”
She’s grateful for the support from her aunt, her drove her from the Albany area to Syracuse, and from her parents, but Carbonetto admits it was hard coming out. In her words, “weird.” Some of her classmates are mean and other relatives are less helpful.
“It’s not the best to talk to them about that kind of stuff,” she said.
“There’s always an ally there,” said Bonnie Strunk, who came out decades ago. “Sometimes it’s hard for young people to step out and ask for help.”
While the State Fair had the first Pride Day of any state fair in the country, starting six years ago, Strunk has managed the FAIR NY booth for twenty years.
“Every day, teachers come in and students come in,” she said. “Allies come in and want to help. So we always have resources for all different parts of the community.”
At the booth, inside the Center of Progress, there are pages and pages of help for parents supporting their children or for teachers who want to help students explore their identities.
The packet options range from gender identity questions to bullying to educating students on starting their own support group at school.
When it comes to how school, Charlotte said, “Honestly, if they just talked about it, in general. Because they kind of avoid that as much as they can.”
Strunk says her goal is “to get those communities together: the young people searching for help and the adults who want to help. We’re here to make a bridge to help them find each other.”
Charlotte wore rainbow-colored shoelaces to the State Fair, but pointed out they’re not just for Pride Day. She wears them every day. A reminder that support should be daily, not just one day a year.
The booth at the Center of Progress is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. all 18 days of the New York State Fair.