Research¹ shows that LGBT+ people are twice as likely to use recreational drugs than the general population, with LGBT+ related stigma, discrimination and internalised homo-negativity cited as the probable cause.
Concerns are doubly high because of the link between drug use and risky sexual behaviour which has been linked to the recent 33% increase in HIV diagnosis in gay men in Ireland².
This Pride, BeLonG To will launch the “You Matter A Lot” campaign created entirely by LGBT+ young people for LGBT+ young people. The first of its kind in Europe, the campaign will integrate a holistic harm reduction approach, with the inclusion of Mental Health, Sexual Health and Drugs harm reduction messaging and resources.
The campaign kicks off with the distribution of the You Matter A Lot Pack at Pride Village, which aims to reduce the harm caused by risky sexual behaviour, reduce the impact of societal homophobia/Transphobia and reduce the harm caused by drug use among the LGBT+ community.
Ciara Sheehan, 18, who worked on developing the campaign said:
“Drugs/Alcohol workers and LGBT+ young adults came together to discuss how we can make Pride safer 2016. We came up with the idea of a harm reduction pack. We are addressing sexual health, mental health and harm reduction drugs and alcohol, within the pack, which I think is awesome, exactly what LGBT+ young adults need”.
The BeLonG To Pride Pack, is a community response to the rising HIV and STI diagnoses, high levels of mental health issues among LGBT community who are experiencing homophobia and transphobia, and high levels of drug use among LGBT+ community.
Belong To’s You Matter A Lot Campaign has been endorsed and supported by Gay Men’s Health Service, Gay Health Network, HIV Ireland, LGBT HelpLine, Gay Switchboard, Pride, Anna Liffey Project, Drugs.ie and North Inner City Drug and Alcohol Task Force.
Gerard Roe, Drug Education & Outreach Officer at Belong To said:
“Belong To runs the only designated LGBT+ harm reduction drug service in Ireland and we want to reach out to LGBT+ young people this Pride to arm them with a resource pack that was developed specifically to promote safety and wellbeing and to reduce harms when it comes to risky behaviour.”
What is in the BeLonG To “You Matter A Lot” Pride Pack?
National LGBT+ Information on Services, LGBT HelpLine Information, Gay Switchboard 24hr Helpline, Drugs Harm Reduction Resource, Condoms, Lube, Pens and Badges.
The BeLonG To Pride Pack, is a funky little pack, with BeLonG To National Network of Support Services information on the back, so that LGBT+ young adults have access to support information and services nationally.
At Dublin Pride 2016, 5000 BeLonG To Pride Packs will be distributed by volunteers on Saturday 25th June.
Jess, 18, developer of the campaign said:
“The BeLonG To Pride Pack is arming young people with the means of keeping themselves safe in regards to sexual health, mental health, harm reduction drugs/alcohol around Pride. We are here to let LGBT+ young adults know that they are worth looking after, which is a message they do not receive any where else”.
1 LGBTIreland Report, March 2016, http://belongto.org/attachments/250_Key_Findings-TheLGBTIrelandreport.pdf
2 HSE, April 2016, http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0405/779700-sexual-health-figures/
BeLonG To is the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) young people, aged between 14 and 23 at www.belongto.org
For those who would like to support the work of BeLonGTo, donations can be made securely online via donate.belongto.org
€21 provides an action pack to a teacher. This allows them to work to eliminate homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying from their classroom so LGBT+ young people have more positive experiences growing up.
€40 provides one support session. Many LGBT+ young people arrived at our door in crisis, these one-to-one support sessions are a vital lifeline to these young people.
€200 will help keep a rural LGBT+ youth service open so that LGBT+ young people can access the support they need close to home.