Young gays and lesbians, especially those under 18, often feel neglected by the wider gay and lesbian community, particularly around Mardi Gras time. The majority of social events are held in licensed premises where under-18s are not allowed to tread.

Which is why this year’s Mardi Gras has devoted a series of events to young gay and lesbian people in the Generation Youth Festival.

We specifically went out of our way to put a youth section in our Mardi Gras guide to emphasise the fact the Mardi Gras festival is for everyone, Mardi Gras spokesperson Diane Minnis said.

Mardi Gras was often one of the things that makes them feel good about themselves, Minnis said. So it’s important there are events that cater for them.

David Moutou of Twenty10, the support agency for troubled or homeless LGBT youth, agreed.

Now the age of consent is lower and people are coming out at a younger age, there’s a real need for the community to open up more spaces for young people for them to access and participate in the community, he said.

Twenty10 has organised the Generation Youth event Insight Out, a multi-media art exhibition by the young people who access Twenty10.

The exhibition will be launched on Monday 13 February by Twenty10 patron Reverend Dorothy McRae-McMahon. Also speaking at the launch will be NSW MP and Marrickville councillor Penny Sharpe, who recently announced she would donate part of her council salary to Twenty10’s arts program.

One of the artists exhibiting is 17-year-old Aidan, who went to Twenty10 after being forced out of his Griffith home by his homophobic stepfather.

My paintings are a huge emotional release for me, Aidan told the Star.

Aidan likes using chalk and water-colour paints. Sometimes I swear I can feel it flowing from my fingertips and drip onto the page, he said.

I love drawing people -“ we are amazing creatures. A lot of the subjects I choose to base my drawings on are surrounding sex, homophobia and abuse.

Moutou said a number of art buyers would also be at the Insight Out launch.

For the young people who access Twenty10 it’s a good opportunity to be exposed to the professional art world and have their creative works acknowledged as valuable, he said.

Also being held as part of the youth program is the cabaret and dance night Roundabout, a drug- and alcohol-free event for under-25s. It’s on Friday 24 February at Newtown Town Hall.

Then there’s the cabaret event Late Night Shopping on Thursday 2 March at the Shopfront Theatre For Young People in Carlton.

Insight Out is on at 6pm 13-17 February at 45 Bedford St, Newtown -“ free entry. Roundabout starts at 6:30pm on 24 February at Newtown Town Hall, King St -“ tickets $10/ $5. Late Night Shopping starts at 7:30pm on 2 March at the Shopfront Theatre For Young People, 88 Carlton St, Carlton. For more info see the GLYSSN website or the New Mardi Gras website.

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