Belonging (By Sol – Young Person)

January 21st, 2016 by

 

That morning, I went to pee.

Everything stilled. There were two doors.

A person with a skirt and one without.

I breathed out, and walked forward.

Washing my hands next to a woman doing her lipstick, I stared at myself in the

mirror. “You shouldn’t be here.”

The thought kept running in my mind. It brought up a flood of others, questions

haunting me. What does it mean? What does it mean for me to not feel like a

woman? Does that mean I feel like a man? What if I don’t feel like either? What do I

want to look like? Who am I?

 

That evening, I went to Allsorts. I talked to a youth worker about my morning, my

confusion, my fear.  I hung out with young people, playing foosball, making bracelets.

I learned about an art workshop in town. Someone put glitter on my face and we took

pictures. Everyone on it was beautiful.

Allsorts Youth Project is a non-profit that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and

unsure youth in Brighton.

 

It runs groups for younger children, teens, over 16s, and parents. It also offers one to

one support. This is essential for youth who are going through huge things:

questioning their identity, navigating family relationships, being bullied, feeling

isolated.

Allsorts employs about 3 people full time, and it has a huge impact. This year around

239 young people accessed its services. Community volunteers make this possible,

both behind the scenes and during groups, where adults will prepare a meal, run

workshops and just hang out and play guitar.

One of Allsorts’ projects last year was to create a booklet on LGBT youth and mental

health. Those who wanted to participate reflected on how they do each of the “five

ways to wellbeing”: take notice, give, stay active, keep learning, and connect. We

shared our struggles, techniques and tips. We went around the city and took

photographs of what makes us feel good. Mine showed my bike and my notebook.

The vision of Allsorts is a world where LGBTU youth are free to thrive. A world with

no discrimination, a world where there is no need for such youth projects.

Allsorts creates safe spaces, but also uses education to foster change.

It runs trainings for school staff and youth workers. It delivers workshops in

classrooms over the city. I am a youth volunteer in this “peer education” scheme, and

I have spoken to 11 and 13 year olds about my experiences growing up LGBT.

 

Hate arises out of ignorance. In these workshops we get to explain who we are, and

to be human. We break the silence that thrives in schools. We speak our truth, and

when we leave, the students have understood something big.

 

Allsorts is safe space. It’s a sanctuary. It’s a place to recharge, to be yourself in all

your complexity, without even thinking about it. It’s a place that gives me strength

when I go back to my hometown. It’s a place I call upon when I feel sad reading

hateful comments on youtube. It’s a place I call upon when I feel alone in crowds of

women with long hair and men with shaved heads.

 

Allsorts gives me the space to explore my identity. It listens. There is no pressure: I

am allowed to be unsure, to change my mind, to change over time.

Young people have a voice in the organisation. We can participate in administrative

decisions, run projects, and represent the charity in the outside world. I believe that is

why is not just a young people’s space; it is a space with the potential to heal, and

transform.

 

Allsorts is an intergenerational inclusive community. It is so powerful to be with

younger and especially older LGBT people: to see that you can be successful and bi,

fabulous and trans, happy and gay. It is belonging.