Big name stars have come out in support of a new website aimed at tackling homophobic bullying in rural parts of the UK.
Among those contributing to the site, which aims to bring gay teenagers together to make short films about their lives, are Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies and Big Brother star Josh Rafter.
Russell T Davies said: “The most extraordinary thing to happen over the past 10 years is the existence of the gay teenager.
“When I was at school at a big comprehensive there was no one in the world like you. There was no one on television, there weren’t even documentaries.
“The internet has been the most phenomenal thing for young gay people and more empowering and liberating than any law,” he continued.
“You used to feel completely alone, and now you can go online and meet thousands of people like yourself.
“The day a 12-year-old can watch telly with his dad and go ‘Cor, look at him’ when a sexy man appears on screen, and for the dad to laugh like he would if it were Pamela Anderson, we will be getting somewhere.”
The website – Sticks and Stones – is a lottery funded project run by Herefordshire’s Rural media Company but it is planning to bring teenagers together nationwide to make the films, which will then be broadcast on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.
The founders of the project and the stars involved are united by wanting to help young people who are struggling with their sexuality while being surrounded by what is often a very homophobic small-town sentiment.
Josh Rafter, Big Brother star and director of Britain’s biggest gay property management agency Outlet, said: “I am delighted to be helping the Sticks and Stones project.
“It was incredible the number of letters I received after Big Brother from young gay people who felt isolated and in a lot of cases bullied and harassed. Many were terrified to openly admit they were gay.”
Stonewall estimates that over 60,000 young people are suffering from homophobic bullying in rural areas.
The website www.ruralmedia.co.uk/sticks is now online.