LGBT+ people are sharing powerful images of their younger selves to show growing up queer is still unacceptably tough
LGBT+ Britons are encouraging others in the community to share photographs of their younger selves to raise awareness of the need for positive queer role models.
Launched Wednesday (9 December) by British LGBT+ youth charity Just Like Us, the Younger Me campaign will run throughout December to help queer young people isolated at home this winter due to the rampaging coronavirus.
With nightclubs and community centres – lifelines for LGBT+ people – still shuttered, and lockdown measures forcing many to remain isolated from peers and other real-life connections, the campaign is about inspiring young people.
Countless queer folk shared photographs of themselves from years back on Twitter – eyes often red from the camera flash, fashion choices often questionable – and stressed the need for inclusive education programs.
Many reflected on what it was like growing up in the era of Section 28, the haunting legislation that banned local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality, and how it shaped them as individuals.
Many noted that their adult selves would seem like a hero, even an impossibility, to them as children.
If you told #YoungerMe who I would be today, #YoungerMe would not believe you. Why would I? I didn’t know any black LGBT+ people growing up. I didn’t know any LGBT+ people, period. If @JustLikeUsUK existed back then, it would have given me the validation I so desperately needed. pic.twitter.com/V9Ho6FzSct
— #TwoTwosPodcast | Gentlewoman (@NotNanalise) December 9, 2020
Just Like Us would have helped to show younger River that no matter how hard she tries she’ll never get the support of her family and that’s ok because her true family is the one she chooses ?? pic.twitter.com/8xhwv08T8N
— River??️⚧️ (@Rivershaw95) December 9, 2020
Non-binary author Jamie Windust, who took part in the campaign, said: “Younger me was unable to see the wood from the trees.
“So many of us when we are younger feel like the future is unobtainable because of the ways in which our surroundings limit us. We found it hard to imagine a future where we were able to just exist, be loud, be brash and be trans.
“It doesn’t matter how long it takes, or if you’re out, your identity is yours to own and navigate through and we are all here with you.”
#YoungerMe never spoke up, I never challenged anything, and felt completely in the dark. Not allowed to come out, or feel me. But now, it's important to recognise how far we as trans and queer individuals have come. I know now we are never alone.
— Jamie Windust (@jamie_windust) December 9, 2020
#YoungerMe's first day at school – some tough times awaited me. Things could’ve been very different with compassionate LGBTQ-focused education.
— Justin Myers (@theguyliner) December 11, 2020
— Sam Norris (@talesofsamwise) December 11, 2020
I went to a rough boys school and it wasn’t a fun environment to be in while wrestling with confusing emotions. If I had JLU I don’t think I’d have been as alone while trying to work out my feelings. pic.twitter.com/7F4vgfDV6d
— Dan Vo (@DanNouveau) December 9, 2020
#YoungerMe didn’t understand what it meant to be queer, that my gender presentation was different to my sexuality. Neither did she know what a sexuality was. Thanks to section 28 I didn’t realise I was queer/pan until I was 25. Kids urgently need to be taught about LGBT lives. pic.twitter.com/mRBaRneA7t
— Brit Clayton (@britldn) December 9, 2020
Divina de Campo and dozens more reflect on growing up LGBT+ for Younger Me campaign.
A cavalcade of LGBT+ influencers took part in the campaign, including Drag Race UK star Divina de Campo. She reflected to Digital Spy how her involvement with Just Like Us helped her realise just how far she has progressed as a person.
“If the things that had been in place now were in place when I was that age, I think I would be a much less damaged individual,” she said.
“Which sounds like ‘woe is me’, but I don’t feel like that at all. I went through some really sh***y times, but it’s OK!
“If you work hard, and you focus on what you want, and you go for that, then it does turn out OK.”
While Britain has made leaps and bounds with its legislative changes for LGBT+ rights, growing up queer is still unacceptably tough, Just Like Us’ chief executive, Dominic Arnall, explained.
“Just Like Us is looking forward to shining a light on the vital need for inclusive education in transforming the lives of LGBT+ young people,” he said.