Detroit REPRESENT! is a collective of LGBTQ youth-of-color, and the LGBTQ adults of color who support them. Although we’ve been around since 2011, this year was our biggest yet, with our collective growing from five to fifteen core members! We recruited youth at drop-in programs, in shelters, and by word of mouth – meeting every week throughout the summer to learn about how racism, homophobia, and transphobia impact our lives, and exploring ways we can use media to make change.
This year, we got to collaborate for the first time at the Allied Media Conference: hosting a workshop about media-based organizing by and for LGBTQ youth of color: “QTPOC Youth Healing Oppression through Storytelling.” Since then, we've produced a Radio Demo featuring our experiences with homelessness, met with youth organizers from across the country, and hosted a survey-taking party as part of a national week of action initiated by the youth-led research project, What's Your Issue?
While our members and adult supporters came together to discuss community problems like anti-HIV stigma, anti-LGBTQ discrimination in shelters, and street violence, we were also learning how to make our own media to address these problems. Over the summer, we attended workshops led by local and national activists, and by collective members. Glennisha Morgan and Invincible taught us about how we can use media and storytelling to increase visibility. Nadia Ann Abou-Karr facilitated a print-making and self-care workshop and Kelly Guillory shared her ideas about comic-book creation as an LGBTQ person of color. In each of these sessions we started to imagine ways we could put our own creativity to work as we transform our oppression.
As we move into the new year, our members are preparing to launch the media-based campaigns they've been dreaming up all summer. Our members plan to conduct outreach that will connect LGBTQ youth-of-color abuse survivors to the support that they need, using graphic design and accessible infographics. Two of our members who are still living at home and unable to be "out" hope to build community with other Arab queer youth who feel isolated and cut off, with the goal of providing the visibility and support that can be very difficult to find. These are just a few examples of the types of projects we have been engaging in and are that we are excited to launch in the coming year.
Our youth organizers will be posting videos, blogs, photos, and interviews to our Facebook page over the coming weeks. For more on what we're up to, you can follow us there! In the near future, we will also be announcing our new-and-improved website which will showcase our youth-led campaign work.
If you are an LGBTQ youth-of-color who wants to get involved – or if you know someone who is – you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also email us if you are an adult who wants to support our youth as they grow their organizing skills, and work to transform our community.
Lance Hicks is a founding member of Detroit REPRESENT!
Detroit REPRESENT! is a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects. To make a tax-deductible contribution to support the collective’s brilliant leadership work with LGBTQ youth of color from Detroit, click the link below.