In case you've not heard yet, Just Like Us has launched a new campaign this December called #YoungerMe, raising awareness of the need for inclusive education and support for LGBT+ young people at this difficult time.
As part of our campaign, we asked some of the Just Like Us staff team to share their #YoungerMe experiences and how the charity would have helped them growing up, if it had existed then.
Our Chief Executive, Dominic Arnall
#YoungerMe spent far too long worrying that I was the only person in the world that felt the way I did. It is a feeling of loneliness that I would not wish on anyone.
I can't imagine how thrilled I would have been to have Just Like Us visit my school and tell me that who I was wasn't something to be ashamed of. Sometimes, just knowing you aren't on your own is enough.
Our Programmes Assistant, Malik Haddington-Ahmed
#YoungerMe didn’t know that LGBT+ people like me existed outside of the damaging depictions I saw in the news and on TV – education (or lack of) played a massive role in that.
Just Like Us is working to make sure young people across the UK are shown what’s possible for LGBT+ people today! You can donate to support our vision for better representation and equality in education at www.justlikeus.org/donate.
Our Director of Education, Emma Fay
#YoungerMe had a great time just being me, but didn't know there were other people who were the same. If Just Like Us had existed when I was at school, I would have known I wasn't the only one feeling the way I did about gender.
Hearing from all kinds of LGBT+ people would have helped me understand myself better, and would have shown my peers it was totally normal to be LGBT+. That's why I'm taking part in Just Like Us' #YoungerMe campaign this December!
Our Head of Volunteering, Taz Rasul
#YoungerMe didn't know how to feel about myself, or explain myself, when I realised that I was LGBT+. If LGBT+ Asians were as visible to me growing up as they are to me now, I would have approached the world with less defensiveness, and with loads more light and pride.
Our campaign allows people to share illustrations or photos of things that represent their #YoungerMe experience instead of a photo if they prefer as we wanted to ensure everyone is safe to take part. So here's #YoungerMe, as illustrated by my younger cousin!
Our Schools and Colleges Officer, Anthony Melia
I know that #YoungerMe would have seen the world and his place in it very differently had my school been able to work with Just Like Us. Growing up and realising I was gay was, at times, an isolating experience and I felt I would never be able share that side of me with anyone.
If I had the experience of a LGBT+ person speaking openly and positively about their lives, sharing parts of themselves that I wrongly felt I might never be able to, it would have made a world of difference to my mental health. That's why, this December, I'm taking part in Just Like Us’ #YoungerMe campaign.
Our Head of Comms and Media, Amy Ashenden
#YoungerMe grew up with a nearly constant feeling of shame. I had a tough time but I know that if Just Like Us had spoken in my school, it would've reassured me that my sexuality and gender expression weren't shameful but something to be celebrated!