FOUR members of headspace Horsham’s Rainbow Group share their stories.
Sam has been a member of the group since April and said they loved the fact members of the group were supportive of each other.
“I wanted a place where I felt like I could be myself and show an expression of truth,” Sam said.
“Being young and LGBTI+ is hard and I needed to be surrounded by people who wouldn’t judge or discriminate me based on my identity.”
Sam said the Wimmera could be an inclusive place for LGBTI people “at times”.
“But there are also times when it‘s not,” they said.
“I constantly hear homophobic comments at school and anywhere really. (People need to be) aware that not everyone is straight or cisgender.
“No matter what someone’s identity is, they still deserve to be treated with respect like a human being.”
Sam said they would “definitely” encourage other young LGBTI people to join the group.
“It’s a safe place to be yourself and have fun,” they said.
Ash has been a member of the group since it first started.
“I had felt so alone and ashamed of myself because I didn’t know any other LGBTI people. Then my sister told me about it and I almost cried of happiness,” they said.
They said the best part of the group were the people. “I have made so many new friends, it’s unbelievable, and the food is good too,” they said.
Ash said they felt included in the community, thanks to the group.
“But I do know there are a large number of LGBTI people who don’t think they’re acknowledged,” they said.
“I think that’s because of school, specifically sex education. I feel like a lot of people don’t realise how important it is for young people to learn sex education that applies to them.
“How can schools just completely ignore their LGBTI students?”
They said the community needed to show their support of LGBTI people.
“If people know that the majority of the town is supportive, then the people who don’t support it won’t spread their negativity because they know no one will back them up,” they said.
“The main struggle for young LGBTI people is feeling like they’re not normal and need to change. Finding people who are like you feels so good.”
Alex joined the group about 10 months ago after wanting to know more people.
“I wanted to know more people in the rainbow community so I didn’t feel so isolated,” they said.
“The group not only is fun and exciting it has also made me so much more confident and proud to be a LGBTI young person.”
Taylor has been a member of the group since its first meeting. They said the Rainbow Group allowed them to express themselves freely.
“I wanted to come to Rainbow group so I could meet new people like me and express my opinions and how proud I was to be apart of the LGBTI community,” they said.
“The best part about the group is how big it’s become and how most people have become really good friends with each other. It’s nice being around that kind of environment.
“I would encourage others to join Rainbow Group because it’s a lovely and safe environment full of fun and support with a massive chance to make new friends.”
Taylor said the Wimmera community was becoming more inclusive.
“More events are being held and more recognition and support than before,” they said.
“It could be improved by schools getting more involved so kids can be educated better and so younger people are more aware of their fellow LGBTI peers.”
- Names marked with an asterisk have been changed for privacy reasons. The gender-fluid pronoun “they” was used throughout as this was preferred for the article’s subjects.