Dom&Ink: ‘Keep staying true to yourself and who you are’
Dom&Ink, an illustrator and artist, talks about his experiences growing up LGBT+, and why visibility is important in schools.
Growing up, what was it like being LGBT+ for you at school?
“I can safely say I hated every minute of school. Me being me, during the times of Section 28 too, meant I felt very alone a lot of the time. People didn’t warm to my outgoing personality and, because I was bad at sports and being ‘a lad’, I was often left out of things.
“I ended up changing schools in primary and then again in secondary because of bullying as it got so bad.
“School was not fun, I don’t miss it and never will. However, it did teach me how tough and resilient I can be. And that, also, I’m really bad at maths, hun.”
Did you have any LGBT+ role models growing up?
“The closest thing to role models I had at school were Jack and Will from Will & Grace and Graham Norton. I’d never seen effeminate men on screen before and be celebrated for it. That was the closest thing to a role model.”
How has life changed for you since you left school?
“For the better! I went to college, and the summer before that I really discovered more about myself. I discovered boot cut jeans, double denim and wet look gel. I also found myself experimenting with blonde highlights (never again), but overall, I found that I started to grow more and more comfortable in myself and who I was becoming.
“Ever since then, I’ve always worked to stay true to myself and continue being the best version of me. I don’t want to let little me or teen me down.”
Our LGBT+ ambassadors volunteer to go into schools and speak about why allyship matters. What difference would it have made to you to have had this kind of LGBT+ representation at school?
“This is such a great part of the important and crucial work that Just Like Us does! I never had anyone come into school to speak about LGBT+ issues – again, Section 28 was still in force – so my first experiences of interacting with a queer person were not until I went to college.
“I had to learn so much about the journey myself, like so many others at the time, which is why Just Like Us and its school talks help so many queer people feel safe and seen.
“In terms of allyship, that’s hugely important. We will continually need allies to help raise our voices and help effect change for us.”
If you could send a message back in time, what would you say to your younger self?
“Keep staying true to yourself and who you are, because all the traits you hate about yourself right now, you will celebrate one day.”
You can also listen to our interview with Dom&Ink on Just Like Us’ podcast.
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Image credit: Alex Wooley