#MyStoryOUTLoud: LGBTQ+ Students of Color Mobilizing for Safe and Supportive Environments

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#MyStoryOUTLoud: LGBTQ+ Students of Color Mobilizing for Safe and Supportive EnvironmentsWesley Thomas & Reginald PattersonAdvocates for Youth

Tumblr: Youthresourceafy

Facebook: YouthResource

Twitter/IG: @mystoryoutloud

Digital story-telling campaign

Focused on LGBTQ People of Color

Amplifying youth voices to mobilize for safe and supportive environments #MyStoryOUTLoud

Safe and Supportive Environments:Access to sexual health and other wellness services that support their identity and orientationCultural competent support stay that understand the dual or multi identity that exist within the intersections of race, class, gender identity, and orientationQueer groups on campus that affirm students racial and ethnic backgroundsFacilities on campus such as dorms and bathrooms that are open to all genders or allow students to access bathrooms for their current gender identity 3

YouthResourceYouth leadership cohort of LGBTQ young people explores issues of concern to their peers.

Peer educators aged 13-24 from diverse backgrounds. Located in all parts of the United States.

Trained to on SRHR issues

Pre-Conference & Urban Retreat

This is how we did itIn The Beginning.10 youth activists

Day long pre-conference

Consultation with Connected Health Solution

Processing, Processing, Processing

Advocates for Youth put out a call for LGBTQ youth activist to become the next generation of leaders in the fight for equality and access Advocates for Youth hosts an annual summit where we bring over 120 youth activist for a 5 day intensive conference on SRHR which include, comp sex ed, contraceptive and abortion access, LGBTQ Health and rights, international policy, and state and local policies as it relates to the other issuesAFY connect with CHS, a media consultant firm, to help the group shape their campaign6

Role-plays, Promo videos, & Timeline

5-day intensive training on topics includingSexual Health and RightsMobilizing and AdvocacyDigital StorytellingStory of SelfLobby DayPre-Conference & Urban Retreat

YouthResource was given the opportunity to record promotional content, and take pictures that would be the foundation for campaign content. The media consultants provided a content focus, and they youth strategized on story collection7

THE LAUNCH!November 16, 2015

3 promo videos

Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

After the conference, YouthResource gathered launch content in the form of videos, spoken word, interviews, personal narratives, and pictures.

Platforms selected:The nature of the campaign is both oral and visual and nature and we wanted the platforms that we used to reflect those voices. Facebook was the initial platform to build our base of followers. We posted primarily articles that related to LGBTQ health and rights and any SJ actions to uplift that community.

Tumblr was the best place for the primary content to live. It was a multi-media platform and can essentially connect to Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr seamlessly. We use the other two platforms for specific events like a photo challenge or a tweet chat. But the base of the campaign is in Tumblr8

Branding

Reggie will speak about how he created the logo (specifically talking about the fact that he made the logo on his phone, and that it was not a financial burden to create it)9

When I graduated high school, I felt liberated. I felt as if the weight of the world was lifted off of my shoulders because I could finally be me. I was moving to a new city where no one knew me so I thought I would enter this foreign land with the utmost confidence about who I am. Being from a very small town, I figured going to the college near one of Americas largest cities would place me around individuals who understand what it means to be a gay man; that people wouldnt judge me because they could empathize with my struggle.But I went to a HBCU. The expectation was not for me or anyone else to be completely open and honest about who they were. It was okay to be gay as long as no one could tell. I dare not show any signs of femininity and if I choose to be open about my sexuality, I may as well accept the fact that all of my friends are going to be female. So I tried to hide. There were people who knew but I chose to conduct myself in a particular fashion; not hanging around the too flamboyant gays (despite the fact that I would queen out in private) and dressing well enough to get noticed but not to stand out.

Then one day my friends and I were at a store right off campus and we were attacked. We were sitting in my car waiting on someone to come out of the store when a car pulled up with five guys in it. When they got out of the car they were instantly staring at us. What the f*** y'all faggots looking at?!, I heard. Once I looked up I saw one guys fist in my left eye. Immediately after that another came from behind and hit my friend in the back seat; he began to bleed. I began to take off my seat belt and get out of the car but my boyfriend at the time pulled my arm and said dont, lets just go. Realizing that we were outnumbered and they had weapons, I put the car into reverse and I drove off as fast as I could. I was embarrassed that I couldnt defend myself or my friends and hurt that no one who was watching had a bit of courage to step in.I listened to my friend crying and insisting that he needed to go to the hospital because he may need stitches. After he returned from the hospital with four stitches on his head, we were all in disbelief. We were too afraid to call the police because we did not want to be known as snitches or cause ourselves anymore harm by the hands of the police or our assailants considering the fact that they probably wouldnt be arrested. We felt helpless and pissed off. We did not know where to go or who to talk to in this situation. There were no places on campus that were considered safe spaces for queer individuals. We were left to rely on ourselves.This was a turning point for me. I began to embrace all people regardless. My roommate at the time was a transgender woman and I have never given her the respect she deserved because I was afraid. We became really good friends and formed this bunch of misfits, for lack of better terms. We accepted those who had not been accepted into our circle. Our room was a safe space for all of us. We would cook, play games, laugh, cry, and talk about life as a queer individual at a HBCU. Those days were the genesis of my journey to becoming the advocate I am today.

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Activities to Date Collected over 60+ Stories, interviews, profiles, and other narratives

Hosted open mic night in Michigan

Script reading in Chapel Hill, NCTwitter Chat in partnership with True Colors Fund, Campus Pride, & ScenariosUSA

Highlighted awareness days related to HIV

Received shouts and recognitions from It Gets Better & Janet Mock

Campfire Event in May with Gender Spectrum

Blogs and articles on student rights on calls to action

Video interviews, and local events on campusStill to come

Open and affirming housing and administrative practices on campus

Creating safe spaces on campus (i.e. Sexual Health Services, Center for LGBT students, LGBT and Race study centered courses)Whats the Goal?

Were Making Progress!Challenging dress code standards for honors ceremonies

All Gender/Gender Neutral Housing

Safe Zone Trainings Transgender Day of Remembrance Events

Creation of LGBTQ POC groups on campus

Buy-in from LGBTQ Admin on Campus

NCCUHowardBowie/Morehouse15

Tumblr: Youthresourceafy

Facebook: YouthResource

Twitter/IG: @mystoryoutloud THANK YOU!!!

Wesley K. Thomas Wesley@advocatesforyouth.org202-419-3420 ext. 19