This week we caught up with Chloe from Colours Youth Network
to find out about its annual festival and some exciting new things happening right now. Colours Youth Network supports young black and people of colour who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex (QTIBPOC) to explore and celebrate who they are through meaningful connections to other young people and a team of experienced QTIBPOC youth workers.
Their vision is to ensure that across the UK every LGBT+ young person of colour has access to a local provision and support that is led by LGBT+ people of colour. Colours Youth Network believes in the importance of creating spaces where young QTIBPOC’s racial, cultural, spiritual, and religious identities are centred.Chloe:
We want to provide spaces for LGBTQ young people of colour, to be their full selves, explore and celebrate who they are through experiencing different spaces.
We hold two main events each year for young people. Colours Youth Festival is where LGBT young people of colour can engage in workshops, conversations and performances which are fun and informative and give young people a chance to celebrate their community while being in the majority, which for people of colour can be a rare occasion within LGBT communities and events. The festival is also a way for young people to connect with each other on a local and national level.
Our annual Residential is a three day retreat for members of local youth groups. Young people have the chance to get out in nature and to celebrate and explore who they are. It's a chance for people to be in a space run by LGBT people of colour and for LGBT colour; where the fullness of their identities are seen, respected and centered. It's also an opportunity to escape the all too common experiences of racism, LGBTphobia and prejudice in mainstream society and communities.
We go to outdoor education centres in places like the Lake District and Yorkshire. Over the three days Colours Youth Network puts on a programme of workshops and works alongside education centre staff to offer outdoor activities for a full programme of fun and new opportunities to experience teamwork and community building.
This year has been an exciting year for Colours Youth Network as we’ve become an independent organisation, which is huge. Colours Youth Network previously sat within white led organisations, this is the beginning of us building independently and taking ownership of the support provided for young Black and people of colour who are LGBT+ (QTIBPOC).
The best thing this year has been the Colours Festival, held just before lockdown. This was the second ever Colours Youth Festival and it was bigger and better than the first year. It ran really smoothly and included a really diverse programme including activism, makeup, singing and vogue workshops, space for young people to perform, we even had Open Barbers (@openbarbers), inclusive queer and trans friendly barbers, come up from London to offer free haircuts and artist Travis Alabanza (@travisalabanza) delivering a really inspiring key note talk.
Manchester Pride donated hoody’s for the young people and Community Rail Lancashire helped donate to travel for the day. It was amazing to see that other organisations saw the value in the day and wanted to help support and get involved. Manchester Pride has also provided funding for some of the Colours Youth Network work, so they have helped to support both the festival and the residential.
For the future we’re excited to welcome more young people to both events, and we are excited to see more QTIPOC young people in positions of leadership and power, and just to see them thriving.
We want QTIPOC to just be, when you have multiple identities, there is a feeling that you have to become an activist, but it is a real privilege to just exist. And we want young people to live happy lives where they are celebrated in whatever it is that they’re doing.
If you would like to support our work please check out our Instagram - @ColoursyouthUK and share, you can help us to spread the word! Although we’re not ready yet, we would really value people sharing their time - there will be opportunities to volunteer at the festival in the future so keep an eye on our Instagram and our website will also be ready soon. If you have any questions please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.