Meet Kay, LGBTQ+ participant
creative:together is our multi-arts project delivered with LGBTQ+ young people aged 16 to 25. Following two successful in-venue projects in 2020 in partnership with equality charity METRO, we returned to deliver two further projects during the pandemic via Create Live!.
The first ran from January to March 2021, exploring the theme of “Pride and Protest” through zine-making, led by our writer Linden McMahon. The second, delivered during April and May, was a visual arts project delivered by our animator and visual artist Lily Ash Sakula. Both were made possible with funding from Greater London Authority via Groundwork.
To mark Pride Month, we spoke to Kay (name changed), who enthusiastically joined both projects, about their experience of taking part, and what it means to live as an LGBTQ+ young person in the UK today.
“I knew that I was queer my whole life. I didn’t realise there was a word for it, or that other people were also queer until I was maybe 11. People seemed to think that queer kids didn’t exist, and that it’s just adults. I felt quite strange as a child and I didn’t know what my future was going to be like. My childhood was definitely impacted by what I now know to be Section 28 because its effects didn’t just disappear in 2003.
“I think it’s beneficial to have specific time to draw. It helps me with accepting how my mind is and with liking my mind”Kay, LGBTQ+ participant
“I think it was difficult for me to trust adults because I knew from a young age that they were telling me something that isn’t true and I still find it quite hard to trust authority figures. When adults in TV shows would say things like, “be yourself”, and all that stuff, I felt like I wasn’t included in that. When I was figuring out what I was feeling might mean in society, I started getting very depressed. I was around 12 or 13. My secondary school was also very homophobic, I used to get bullied a lot for my sexuality and also because I’m autistic. No one did anything about it, because if somebody was being homophobic, the teacher would not say anything at all. They would just say: ‘You’re too young to talk about that.’ The difference between being queer in school and after leaving school is very big.
“I remember the first time I was at METRO. I didn’t realise how much this was something I needed. I used to feel a lot more abnormal and isolated before.
“I took part in two Create projects. We did zine-making during the first one with Linden. We looked at different zines and we did a series of creative things. We were talking about Pride and Protest. We’re now doing a visual arts project with Lily. We started doing drawing activities. We went on Google Maps and we saw Antarctica and outer space and drew things from that. We also did some mark-making. We looked at different worlds and then we drew our own worlds. We looked at some characters as well and how those characters could perhaps represent the spectrum of the group. We also designed new leaflets. I learned about the importance of doodling and drawing just as a way of playing. When we were drawing parts of animals, it made me think about noticing different parts and different details.
“I think it’s beneficial to have specific time to draw. It helps me with accepting how my mind is and with liking my mind. I also don’t usually do things with other people, but I like drawing with other people. It’s less lonely to see what other people do with the same prompt and get more used to collaborating.”