30/07/12, YPV and Positive Images
Over about the last year or two, myself and other volunteers at YPV have been racking our brains over how to better represent young LGBT people. We are a pretty diverse group, and everyone has different experiences, but we always agreed that the goal was to give young LGBT people positive representation.
Whilst we stand on the history of pride marches, legal battles, personal stories, but it feels that like in the mainstream, young people’s voices get put to the bottom of the pile. Many of us came out during our times in education; we mostly stood facing towering monsters of rules, rules that didn’t include LGBT.
As with the rise of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, more and more of us are putting our lives online, as always I posted another video of animal’s doing outrageously funny things on a friend’s wall. At YPV we wanted to put out the message of acceptance, positivity and love. For World Mental Health Day, volunteers designed business card’s with messages for young LGBT people, ranging from “different and beautiful” to “remember that the sun is shining above the clouds”. This first brainchild of our meetings, getting the word out online that whoever you are, it’s ok.
Taking our experiences from this, for Anti-Bullying week we designed a banner for Facebook for people to attach showing their support against homo/bi/transphobic bullying. Again we put our logo on their; all sorts of love. For me personally within the group, positive images are crucial. When I was first discovering my sexuality, the only sound bites I had to go on were the overly dramatic Hollyoaks story that I had to watch at night away from my parents view. Thankfully now it is a lot clearer picture, but amongst all of the TV drama, I didn’t see young people being championed. There’s no helping in pointing out the big boulder in someone’s path if we can’t celebrate when we help move it out the way.
AT YPV we are continuously thinking, scribbling and organising to continue this trend of positive images. For IDAHOBIT (International Day against Homo/Bi/Transphobia) we collaborated with the other young people at Allsorts to ask; “What can schools do better for LGBT students?” For everyone this may have personal feelings, but for me it represented another chance for YPV to represent and champion young people’s experience. I only wish that I’d had the courage and support to stand outside my headmaster’s office when I first came out in secondary school, although I’d imagine it would turn into a very long sit in. With the Equality Act in 2010, and groups like Stonewall doing more research into LGBT experiences in education, YPV are there again asking where are the young people’s voices? In many ways our name is stroke of genius in that it genuinely captures the essence of what we try to do at Allsorts.
In the long term, we are again working hard to plan newer campaigns and events to champion the voices of young people and above all, positive representation. People may not have the easiest experience of their sexuality or gender identity, but at YPV we will always be waving and posting online that gold medal that everyone deserves.
Written by Steve Murtagh