Youth Week: Unity through Diversity

Young people celebrating Mardi Gras in Sydney

To celebrate Youth Week 2018, we’re highlighting some reflections from our youth leaders at headspace Maitland. Samaritans coordinates the headspace Maitland centre and we had the privilege to catch up with three Youth Reference Group members who were supported to go down to Mardi Gras in Sydney last month.

L-R Olivia, Maddy and Theo

Olivia, Maddy and Theo are three outgoing and inspiring young people who we think define Unity Through Diversity, which is this year’s theme for Youth Week. They marched with the headspace float at Mardi Gras and we asked them to share their experience.

Maddy: It was wild. It was my first time going to Mardi Gras and it hit me a few days before going that this event has so much significance. I saw the movie “Riot” that week and I got heaps emotional. I was thinking about how we get to be a part of an event that’s so rich in LGBT history.

Olivia: My highlight was seeing how happy everyone was. No matter who you were or how you identify, you felt so much love walking down the main street of Sydney.  It still gives me goose bumps thinking about it. After the parade I got very teary – the atmosphere, the colours, the cheering and glitter and lights – it was just, wow!

Theo: It was so great walking in the March and seeing so many people and not one person was saying anything bad. I cried near the end of the March, it was very overwhelming. I was part of something so large, an event that had been such a huge part of LGBT history and it was incredible. Seeing photos of me on TV was very surreal.

Maddy: I think it’s really important that we find strength in our differences. At Mardi Gras there were so many different people there, those marching and on floats as well as in the crowds. Everyone was from different backgrounds and it was amazing to just see everyone interacting.

Olivia: Mardi Gras is the one night out of the entire year that’s just about acceptance. Unfortunately everyday life doesn’t always feel like that. Being a part of something so big reminded me that although I might only be one person in a very large amount of people, I do have that support.

Theo: I think there’s still a lack of education on the LGBT front because people definitely aren’t as accepting in a rural area as they are in the city. I came out as Trans in my last year of high school, and I had such love and support from my family and friends, they are still so supportive. But then once I was walking back from university and some people from my old school drove past and threw a bottle at my head. I look forward to when there is no stigma and no label and we’re seen as normal.

Olivia: I think working together despite our differences is so important. In the headspace Youth Reference Group we are spreading awareness, advocating and working toward a common diverse goal to help all young people. Coming in as another generation, now it’s our time to make change.


Happy Youth Week!