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Gareth Watkins

In this podcast producer Gareth Watkins talks about Rainbow Touchstones - a mental health digital storytelling project.

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In this informative summary of a podcast recording, Gareth Watkins discusses the Rainbow Touchstones project, a digital storytelling initiative focused on addressing mental health within the LGBTQ+ community. The interview, conducted by Mike Gourley, took place on September 27, 2010, in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, and delves into the motivations and mechanisms behind the project.

Watkins, recognizing the high rates of mental health issues, including risks of suicide among the LGBTQ+ population, wanted to construct a platform that could offer a positive impact. Notably troubled by statistics revealing that young LGBTQ+ individuals are at a significantly higher risk of attempting suicide, Watkins set out to create a project that would allow members of these communities to share their narratives.

The interview touches on the compounding factors that contribute to mental health struggles within the LGBTQ+ community, such as the stress of not being out to family, friends, or even oneself, and the associated feelings of isolation. These layers can often lead to additional concerns like substance abuse and anxiety about the future.

The Rainbow Touchstones project facilitates the telling of these stories through digital media. Individuals partake in creating three-to-five-minute video pieces that combine narration, scripting, interviews, and photos to communicate personal experiences. Watkins' role as a facilitator involves working closely one-on-one with each participant to ensure a safe and respectful process. It is highlighted that the development of each story should not retraumatize participants or infringe upon their informed consent.

Furthermore, the conversation covers the broader challenges of engaging with the community to share their sensitive stories, accentuated by the overwhelming response Watkins received upon releasing a press call for participants, underscoring the prevalence of these issues.

The dissemination plan for the Rainbow Touchstones project includes utilizing the internet and platforms such as YouTube to reach a global audience, including individuals who may not feel comfortable discussing their experiences in other settings. Additionally, a DVD version will be provided for use by counselors and support groups.

As a curator and producer, Watkins is conscious of their duty to honor and protect the integrity of each person's story during and after the production. The process demands careful selection of participants, whose readiness to share and reflect on their experiences is essential for the project’s success. It also confronts the ethical considerations of how sensitive topics like suicide are portrayed.

Watkins reveals plans to select five participants for the digital stories and expresses a keen awareness of the potential impact of deciding who will tell their story. The goal is to find additional ways to include those not selected for digital stories, indicating an openness to expanding the project's reach. The vision is to evolve Rainbow Touchstones into a model that can be replicated by others in the future.

Finally, the podcast includes acknowledgments of both the Mental Health Foundation and Spins, the suicide prevention information service in New Zealand, for their support and guidance in the project.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:27th September 2010
Interviewer:Mike Gourley
Location:Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-003820).