Article Title:LGBTI youth changemakers: Alex Bramwell
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Published on:7th June 2016 - 11:15 am
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Story ID:18352
Text:Alex Bramwell was recently recognised for her work with Waikato Queer Youth and recieved a Youth Week Changemaker Award. We chat to her about what life was like growing up and her passion for working with LGBTI youth.   When did you come out and what was that like for you? I came out at about 15. My family were highly supportive of me. My grandma is an out and proud lesbian so she was my biggest supporter. I struggled with it a bit at high school. I attended an all girls school and some of my class mates didn't have the most positive reactions when I was outed by someone else. This was a big contributor to me dropping out of high school at 16. Tell me about the work you do with youth. My role at Waikato Queer Youth is that of Youth Mentor Coordinator. That means I oversee our facilitators and other volunteers, provide training for these people, I also help to maintain our Youth Centre and help to run our weekly youth groups. As a Youth Mentor at WaQuY, we also provide our youth with a listening ear whenever they may need it and in some cases we will make referrals for our young people for counselling and other support that they may need that we cannot provide. Why did you decide to start working with other LGBTI youth? When I came out to my family, my cousin Nate, who is transgender FTM, brought me along to Waikato queer Youth (WaQuY). When I first started attending those groups it was like I had found a second family. I saw so many of my friends that attended the group struggling with their own identities because of pressures at home or school but when they came to group they could just be themselves. I was massively fortunate to come from the open family that I did so I wanted to be able to support young people who maybe didn't have that support from their families. What do you do outside of this? I am also an early childhood teacher, have been for five and half years. What do you see as the biggest issues facing LGBTI youth today? The suicide rates of our LGBTI+ young people continue to climb which is my biggest concern. I've known young people who have taken their lives because of feeling like they have no other options and it breaks my heart. Our biggest issue continues to be societal bigotry in my opinion. I feel like for the most part, society as a whole has become more accepting of varying sexualities but we're still fighting for equality and recognition for people of diverse gender identities. How can the wider LGBTI community better support youth? Mentoring, I would love to see successful queer adults sharing their stories for our young people. So that the next generation can see that even if they are struggling now, things don't stay that way. I would love to see more people in the queer community reach out to our youth organisations around the country to see what support they can offer. What did it mean to you to be recognised with a Youth Week Award? It was incredibly overwhelming! I have always just tried to do the work that I thought was needed at WaQuY and I am so grateful that my groups work is being recognised.     - 7th June 2016
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