Proud Words

Our LGBTQIA+ reading and creative writing project for young people.

What is it?

The original idea for Proud Words came from Young Writers we had worked with through our Young Writers’ Groups, who told us that not enough was done in schools about LGBTQIA+ issues and that they knew writing about gender and identity could have a huge impact for people who identified as LGBTQIA+. The project first began in October 2016, when two Newcastle schools – Benfield and Heaton Manor (now Jesmond Park Academy) – worked with us to set up LGBTQIA+ reading and creative writing groups. Since then we have worked in partnership with Curious Arts to provide performance opportunities for these young people, and have run the project in other local schools.

What Happens?

Proud Words usually runs for one term in school and provides a weekly opportunity for LGBTQIA+ young people and allies to meet, read and write together in a safe space. Facilitated by a professional writer who identifies as LGBTQIA+, young people attending the sessions read YA fiction, plays and poetry with LGBTQIA+ themes and write their own work in response, as well as receiving their own copies of books to take home! Across the programme we will also identify opportunities for young people to experience new activities, events and ideas; in the past Proud Words attendees have met award-winning authors Juno Dawson and Lisa Williamson at Durham Book Festival, and performed in from of a sold-out audience at Curious Festival.

Proud Words in your school

Depending on funding and capacity we may be able to facilitate a Proud Words programme in your school; your teachers can contact us on [email protected] for more details. Previous Proud Words Young Writers also worked with New Writing North and writer Laura Lindow to create a resource pack so that anyone can facilitate a Proud Words project in their school. The pack includes creative writing activities, reading suggestions and other practical ideas about how to set up a Proud Words group. If you wish there was a Proud Words group in your school, let us know and we can send a pack to one of your teachers.

What our participants said

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community this impacted me strongly due to the fact is gave me a place where I could be open regarding my sexuality and gender identity, as well as meeting people who are also LGBTQ+ and getting to know them and their stories.

I felt the strong urge to write again and I felt empowered, as part of the LGBT+ community. These books really made me feel confident.

It really opened my eyes to a whole new perspective of the LGBTQ+ community. The books I read I probably would never have picked up on my own but I honestly loved them all.