Gemma Curtis

Gemma Curtis

Standing Up

Thursday August 3, 2017

Off the back of DRM’s involvement in Growing Up Gay, the Olly Alexander documentary on BBC, which has already opened up so many vital conversations.

Off the back of my partner calling out homophobic and transphobic abuse on a train this morning.

Off the back of my friend coming out to his family, even though he feared the worst.

What does it take to stand up? What does it take to speak out? What does it take to find your voice?

I’d say courage, a deep breath, faith in outside support, faith in yourself, but most of all it takes time.

Deciding to open up the diaries again and look back to the past also takes sheer guts. Growing Up Gay touched on so many potent issues – self harm, anxiety, depression, homelessness, bullying and “coming out” amongst others. Having watched and digested it, the overriding feeling, once sadness, past hurt and deep seated recognition had dissipated, was of pure admiration. With half of LGBT+ students suffering from bullying and 75% not feeling safe to come out in their schools, Olly Alexander’s authentic voice shines through as a hopeful way forward. He stood up and has opened up hearts and minds in doing so. What an inspiration.

This school year Diversity Role Models has worked with over 18,000 young people across the UK. Our own inspirational role models stand up every time they go into schools and share their stories in an open and honest way. Our facilitators stand up every time they sensitively engage with a young person arguing their right to continue using homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language, regardless of how it impacts others. The teachers we work with stand up every time they offer to be the one to turn to for support during our workshops. Students stand up every time they raise their hands in alliance with an LGBT+ friend, every time they consider the impact of their language, every time they reflect.

As one Year 9 student shared recently after a workshop: “I now realise that LGBT people are no different to me. I would now be more supportive and not use the language that was discussed.” Standing up can literally be making the decision to think twice.

Standing up is the Equality group at an Islington secondary staging their very first Pride event in school this summer. It’s teens from the National Citizen Service selling rainbow coloured milkshakes for DRM after being inspired by Olly’s doc. It’s stepping towards someone who is being loudly homophobic and transphobic in public, and peacefully starting a dialogue. Just one word, gesture, articulation of support or challenge can shift things for those who have not yet found their voice.

And, if now isn’t the right time, it’ll come. So thank you to all of those who stand up on behalf of others – you are slowly and beautifully changing the world one step at a time.

You can join us in standing up by registering your interest to become a role model, donating to support our vital work or getting in touch to tell us about a school that you think would particularly benefit from our work.

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