A moment from the Youth Project, May 2022
TESTIMONIAL from Latvia
By the German Team (Pinky Promise)
“Fill your Life with experiences. Not things. Have stories to tell. Not stuff to show.” Here is our story which started in the most serene and beautiful place in Latvia on 11.05.2022.
Come Out and Play– the Project was organized in a peaceful cottage surrounded with lush green space, enchanting scenery with a lake directly in front of our common home and 2 boats. We had hammocks and swings and outdoor couches with a view directly to the grasslands and to the forest. There was a common playground to enjoy the phases Explore, Connect, Create and Celebrate for the next 10 days until 20.05.2022.
Our project group was divided into International groups in the first days, so that we could know each other better while we were doing active meditation together (cleaning the venue in different teams). To each of the topics, we had interesting workshops, discussions and experiences touching on mindfulness, well-being, mental health, self-organized initiatives, traditional cooking, me-time etc. There were a lot of possibilities to spend some time alone or with others outside. Also in these support groups containing 4-5 people, evenings were spent reflecting about the day. So our national team was actually divided in different support groups: Fabia and Jelena were with Xtra Ketchup, Maria with Flips Flops, Shweta with The Roosterinas and Kim with The Possibles.
So what did we actually learn from the project? We think that everybody took their own learnings with them about their personality or Life-Style. We had the chance to open-up in our safe space and had workshops about how we can improve our self-confidence. We were given enough self care time to find things that make us happy. We spent a whole day in different workshops where we taught, learnt, laughed and pampered in the most blissful way. There was also a drag show where we also learnt to make us up in our favourite character. Whether it was drawing cartoons of our Gender Prato Penguin person, writing a song about Coming-out, creating a Zine about Sex Education or being a model for a Photography project. It was a great presentation in the evening to see all the smiling faces because everybody created something that matters to them.
Sharing of life experiences, difficulties and mental health concerns was another important aspect of the learning procedures because we had the chance to openly discuss controversial topics and to support each other exchanging tips and methodologies to cope with them. Also seeing other perspectives from other lives, but also reconnecting with friends at home meant hard work for a better understanding. Additionally, having an open space to discuss topics of sexual and gender identity openly, exchanging experiences of coming-out and discrimination was incredibly enlightening. Especially taking into account the different cultural aspects in the countries of origin. Shweta is from India, a conservative land where people do not want to discuss the LGBTQ+ community. The project gave her and the whole group different aspects of the common problem. As they say, It is all about Perspective. Someone’s experience can be the cure of someone else’s prolonged dilemma. The opportunity to create a safe space between people from different parts of the world and with very different identities was an amazing experience and created a unique feeling we hadn’t felt across countries like this before.
Building friendships and connections to other queer people all over Europe is a really extraordinary quality of this project, that builds a sense of belongingness and solidarity everywhere, as well as closer understanding of the local situations. It was interesting to see how unknown people could become so close to your heart and you can share the deepest of secrets within you with them. Thanks to the project, we now know a lot of lovely people Europe-wide and will definitely stay connected in the future via Social Media.
We also received motivation and support from the organization Active Rainbow, when we’ll do a local project in Germany. We are going to print the Zine ‘How to have sex that you actually enjoy’ and provide them to our local schools and universities. Unfortunately, we can’t do a gathering with each other, because we live in different parts of Germany. But we will try.
“What does Well-Being mean to Me? – highlights of the project
35 participants were guided on how to approach each other. “What excites you?”, “What do you want to bring home from here?”, “What does well-being mean for you?” – were some of the questions proposed to us. The last one listed seems to be a personal one as well, and each person needs to figure it out for themselves. That kept us thinking for a great part of the project. Here is the key: you leave the phone and go out. Lay on that cozy swing, or go and sit at the edge of the dock. Jump in that boat, maybe, and go to the center of the lake. From that point you need to go deep. Very deep. Not into the water, though (or yes, if you like) but into yourself. We called it “me-time“, the time of silent self-reflection. We took this time as a gift and brought the value of it home with me.”
So our highlight about the me-time and getting to know so many nice people from other countries was a great joy. We hope to stay in contact with our favorite ones and develop our connections with each other and friends and family. This project about LGBT+ is highly recommended.