We teamed up with equality charity METRO to deliver a six-week zine-making project from January to March with young LGBTQ+ people aged 16 to 25. Following two successful in-venue projects, we are delivering this one virtually via Create Live!.
In these workshops, supported by Greater London Authority via Groundwork, the participants are working collaboratively under the guidance of our writer Linden McMahon to create a zine on the theme of ‘Pride and Protest’. This has given them space – across February’s LGBT+ History Month – to discuss the legacy of Pride and what it means to live as a queer person. It has also enabled them to connect, build skills, explore new ways to express themselves, and share their experiences through writing and visual media.
We spoke to Nicola Jones, METRO’s Youth Lead for Croydon and Southwark, to learn about how the pandemic has affected her work with LGBTQ+ young people and the therapeutic potential of creativity.
“I think people have the perception that all young people are fine with ‘LGBT stuff’ now. They’re all fluid, it’s all over Instagram and Tik Tok, but it absolutely depends on so many factors, like where you grew up, how your parents feel about it, the area you live in, do you appear visibly other, do you get harassed on the street, and so on.
“The youth groups are amazing. We do a lot of sessions that are around exploring and affirming identity and representation to counter the lack of those things at school, in the media, and the wider world, so that young people don’t feel so alone and don’t internalise the idea that they’re not normal. I think young people who access our groups over a long period of time tend to be the most vulnerable ones.
“We do a lot of workshops with Create because creativity is a really great way to provide support. You can make a PowerPoint about mental health issues but young people get enough of that kind of education at school. It’s been so amazing to have external workshop providers come and give them experiences and perspectives that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. I am so grateful that Create makes these sessions possible. I could endlessly talk about how amazing it’s been.
“We’re currently running a zine-making workshop series with Linden McMahon via Create Live!. It’s been very different going from such incredible engagement in real life to running workshops online. So many young people who were accessing our groups regularly are either completely fatigued with Zoom, as many of us are, or they don’t feel comfortable being on camera. So, we send them out a zine pack with magazines, nice paper and pens, and things like that so they have stuff to read at home, do collage, and submit something to the zine. We can’t overstate how important that is for a young person.
I am so grateful that Create makes these sessions possible. I could endlessly talk about how amazing it’s been.
“The zine-making sessions have been so great because people can do photography or draw or write or work in any way they like to express themselves. It’s a way for them to be involved and engaged. It has a wider impact than the number of people in the actual session. Linden is also really amazing at creating a very supportive, safe, chilled, lovely vibe.
“Working on a creative thing in the same space as other people and sharing can be really powerful. There is another young person who is incredibly vulnerable, particularly during this pandemic. They created a zine during the week and they shared it with us. It was so incredible! I think having an outlet where some of that stuff can go is really important.”
METRO runs LGBTQ youth groups for under 25s in many London boroughs. Visit www.metrocharity.org.uk to find out more about their work. To find out more about METRO’s youth services visit metrocharity.org.uk/youth
Click here to read about our photography project with METRO led by Holly Revell.