LGBTI teen support organisation Minus 18 asked about the issues facing LGBTI people in high school in a Twitter conversation on Monday night, getting young people from all over Australia talking about their own painful and uplifting experiences.
The conversation was the first in a series of events hosted by Minus 18 as part of their Year 7 Self project, an internationally acclaimed campaign featuring messages from adults to their younger selves about sexuality, diversity and acceptance.
Responses ranged from hilarious to heart-warming, with many assuring their younger selves things wouldn’t be as bad as they think.
jarrodhassel wrote: “Don’t worry about coming out to mum & dad. Dad will try and pick up a drag queen at the @minus18youth 2nd birthday”.
Participants were also asked questions about the kind of school they went to, whether sexual and gender diversity was something discussed at their school and what some of the barriers were LGBTI teens faced at their school.
Many of the heart-breaking memories participants shared revealed bullying and loneliness were a part of many people’s high school experiences.
dan_azzo said: “Constant bullying and beatings meant that I wasn’t confident with who I was for a long time.”
ponyonchristmas Tweeted: “Meanwhile in the schoolyard, being gay was the worst thing you could be!”
But the conversation also included very hopeful sentiments, with participants taking the opportunity to write messages of love and support.
jamesdpurcell Tweeted: “Dear #year7self, just stick to your guns and chase down everything you want and you’ll be happy with everything you’ve achieved always.”
Minus 18 general manager Micah Scott told the Star Observer the engagement from people across Australia in the Year 7 Self project was fantastic to see.
“The interaction from the community in the Tweet chat was awesome. There was such a diverse range of people, all sharing their experiences of LGBT youth in high school, how things were then, how they’re getting better, and what still needs to be done,” Scott said.
“Ultimately, the main message that came through was that we’re all an important part of each other’s lives, and that’s a brilliant thing to see.”
Despite the difficult memories many participants shared the message was ultimately a hopeful one, embodied by a Tweet from NickClayton_7:
“It was only last year I was you. Still proud that you came out.”
The final two Tweet chats from Minus 18 will be on Tuesday, October 1 and Tuesday, October 8 at 8.30pm AEST. The next chat will focus on role models for LGBTI teens in Australia, with the final chat to discuss stereotypes.