Raising funds for BAME LGBTQ youth network

  • Colours Youth Network are seeking to raise £50,000
  • The money raised will go towards financing future intiatives
  • The crowdfund has so far raised over £35,000
  • Colours' founders explain what indpendence means for the network

Raising over £6000 on their launch day, the Colours Youth Network aims to reach £50,000 to become an independently run organisation, dedicated to empowering the UK’s BAME LGBTQ youth.  – Gofundme Page

After launching on 10th June, the crowdfund reached a third of its target within the first week and so far the current total exceeds £35,000.

The Colours Youth Network (@coloursyouthuk) provides specialised support, resources and events for youth workers and young people of colour in the LGBTQ community.

Nominated for National Diversity Awards, Colours brings stability and balance to youths whose lives may be disordered and who face discrimination due to their race, sexual orientation and gender identities.

Colours is currently supported by Bradford Council Youth Service, Gendered Intelligence and The Proud Trust – a Manchester-based organisation that has been actively involved in working with LGBT youth since the 1970’s.

Colours Youth Network – The Team

Colours was created in 2016 by well-established youth workers of colour from Manchester, Bradford and London’s LGBTQ community, pushing together for a wider reach of services to support youths across the UK.

Since starting the first LGBTQ group in Bradford in 1987, Colours co-founding member, Norrina, Rashid was presented with an award in 2017 for her outstanding contribution to the LGBTQ community.

“Recognising intersectionality, I fought for many years to set up different groups. In 2014 as well as having a healthy LGBTQ+ group I managed to set up Phoenix, a trans youth group.

“Setting up a group for people of colour was another story. I was alone, the support and infrastructure was not there.

“Between 2014 -16, I started seeing Sabah and Chloe at conferences. The three of us agreed that we should do a shout out and set up a national network.

“I have dreamt for decades about a QTIPOC (Queer Trans Intersex People of Colour) youth organisation, led by young people and now it’s realised, To see young people actively involved in their lives and, in turn, community gives me such hope for the future of QTIPOC young people.”

As society is becoming increasingly connected through digital means, online conversations and digital safe spaces have empowered the LGBTQ community to organise, Norrina explains:

“Social media is the biggest thing that has enabled QTIPOC young people to grow strong, they seek each other out, realise they are not the only one, they form networks and people in numbers are powerful.

“Colours’ presence on social media platforms has connected QTIPOC young people from all over the UK. Our annual residential and youth festival has seen young people attend from all four nations.”

Hosting free annual day festivals in Manchester, Colours curate events to entertain and educationally empower LGBTQ youths of colour, providing safe spaces to talk and experience meaningful interactions, money raised will go towards the continuation of such events. 

Encouraging QTIPOC from across the UK to attend, the festivals feature high profile guest speakers, with attendees eligible to have their travel and accommodation costs covered to tackle financial barriers.

Norrina: “In June 2016 it was agreed that we would run a national residential for QTIPOC young people, that summer over 40 QTIPOC young people with a team of QTIPOC youth workers spent three days in the Lake District. It was overwhelming.”

The crowdfund is providing the team with enough resources and time to finance future plans, securing a greater push forward to support LGBTQ youths from ethnic minorities.

“Taking back control of our narrative”

Chloe Cousin plays a central role within Manchester’s BAME LGBTQ community, operating as the lead organiser for both The Proud Trust’s LGBTQ youth of colour, and community action group, Rainbow Noir.

Colours’ co-founder, Chloe Cousins, said it was important for the organisation to become financially secure.

“Becoming independent as a network for us is about taking back control of our own destiny, our history and narrative.

“When organisations and projects led by people of colour are held within white organisations, they do not have full control of their narratives.

“History gets distorted and often the work of black and people of colour is whitewashed and claimed by organisations who want the kudos for creating black and POC work.”

Protecting vulnerable young people

Within the LGBTQ community, diverse forms of discrimination and prejudice are common, further isolating people who can often feel socially excluded in wider society.

The most recent government figures (2018) show that young people aged 16-24 who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, account for 4.4% of the UK population.

Often victims of discrimination, suffering abuse within their homes, education and workplaces, LGBT youth disproportionately make up 24% of youth homelessness.

Protecting vulnerable youths from physical and mental harm is crucial. Research collected by Stonewall in 2018 reveals 13% of the LGBT young people aged 18-24 attempted to end their lives that year.

LGBTQ youths from BAME backgrounds are subjected to double discrimination, fighting forms of racism, homophobia, and transphobia and lacking safe spaces to express themselves in mainstream society.

Colours co-founder Sabah Choudrey is a recognisable figure within the LGBTQ community, featured in the 2015 Rainbow List, Brixton TEDx Talks.

Sabah said: “We started this because there was no one else like us working in the organisations we were in.

“We needed support from other LGBTQ youth workers of colour navigating white spaces and figuring out how LGBTQ youth of colour can fit in.

“But we don’t have to fit in. We can create our own spaces that exist alongside – not a replacement, competition or an after-thought.

“It’s somewhere LGBTQ youth of colour can explore, love and be their full selves without thinking about how to fit in with white spaces, cultures, references or languages that just don’t represent them.

“It’s more than just a structural shift but a reclamation of space, events, funds, venues and a demand that we lead the communities we serve. It’s a statement to our young people that they deserve all these things.

“What we are modelling is a youth service centring LGBTQ youth of colour and being led by people like them. When you can see yourself reflected and prioritised like that, it builds trust, safety and pride, and when it comes to finding their identities here, the possibilities are plenty.”