LGBTQ+ youth use arts to explore identity, community and policing
The relationship between the LGBTQ+ community, wider society and the police has been explored in a cutting-edge exhibition at The Playhouse.
Launched for LGBTQ+ awareness week, the exhibition will celebrate the ground-breaking work carried out by the young participants of Street Talk and OUT North West.
Project coordinators said police officers working on the project were shocked by the amount of abuse LGBTQ+ young people were objected to, highlighting the importance of services like OUT North West.
Twelve young people who identify as LGBTQ+ used photography, film and spoken word to explore their own identity, highlight issues and, raise awareness of the harassment and victimisation forced upon them and their peer group.
Launched Tuesday 15 May in The Playhouse, the work will be on display until Friday 18 May.
The Street Talk project based in the Playhouse aims to break down barriers between young people and the police using the arts. Young people are motivated and inspired to explore their own identity and life experiences and, establish a better understanding of anti-social behaviour, sectarian concerns, crime and policing in Northern Ireland communities.
Artists Abby Oliveria and Mara Cavalli used visionary new media skills, poetry and spoken word to motivate and inspire the young people to consider their own identity, explore social issues and personal well-being allowing participants to find their voice and challenge the police and wider society, in an effort to secure a safer future.
A human rights consultant facilitated a meeting between the PSNI and OUT North West youth.
"PSNI officers were stunned by the amount of abuse, harassment and violence regularly directed at LGBTQ+ young people" Caroline Temple, Street Talk coordinator at The Playhouse said.
"These fantastic young people are challenging gender and cultural norms just to be themselves. We must continue to work with the emergency services to promote better understanding of the challenges faced by minority groups, young people and those struggling with metal health for any reason.
We're delighted that officers will continue to work with us to address the issues and, educate officers to recognize ‘at risk' young people, not to be so quickly dismissed by emergency services and, help provide a safe community where people express themselves freely."
Shauna Devenney, Youth Officer at Cara-friend (OUT North West) said: "These young people have not only challenged gender norms, but they have also defied cultural norms that seem to be passed intergenerationally and have come together to form unique bonds where respect and unity are at the core of their friendships. They are the victims of hatred and contempt just because of their sexual orientation and/or gender Identity.
"They have been at the receiving end of insults walking down the streets of Derry, for just being themselves and minding their own business. Their mental wellbeing is key to their development, yet because they are LGBT, they are seen as a 'minority', their emotional wellbeing is constantly triggered by such hatred and intolerance but yet their reliance is growing even strong in the face these adversities."
The Playhouse Street Talk project is funded by BBC Children in Need.
The "This is Us" exhibition will run at The Playhouse until Friday 18 May. For further information about Street Talk contact Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org.