We talk to the everyday heroes who make Singapore a better place person by person, day after day. These LGBT support groups will also have a booth (or a picnic mat) at Pink Dot 2011, so come by and say hi!

Who They Are:

Young Out Here aka YOH is a queer youth community group started back in 2006 by Elsa Tay, Jeremy Kwok and Benjamin Xue. It caters to queer youths between the ages of 16 to 22 and hopes to help queer youths build ties with the larger queer community.

What They Do:

YOH provides a safe and inclusive space which enables the youth to talk about queer youth specific topics and issues. The Support Group programme is composed of 13 sessions, focusing on topics like Coming Out, Family, School, Safer Sex, Relationships & Self.

How To Get In Touch:

Sign up for the YOH Support Group at young-out-here.blogspot.com. If you are interested to be a volunteer, send an email to [email protected] You can also check out the group on Twitter: twitter.com/young_out_here and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/youngouthere

[Snapshot]

Noticing the lack of queer youth initiative in Singapore, founders Elsa, Jeremy and Ben thought of creating YOH in 2006. Ben shares, “We realized that if there was a place where we could talk about issues that were relevant for to us, we would have gotten the support and encouragement needed when we were growing up here.”

Previously, the group has also partnered with Oogachaga to organize three events – Labels to Love, Outrace, and Ties that Bind (a workshop on coming out to the family).

 

[Q&A]

We sit down for a chat with Benjamin Xue, one of the moving forces behind Youth Out Here. Ben talks to us about how he believes a simple mantra -For Queer Youths, By Queer Youths – has paved the way for the group to provide a safe and inclusive space for the queer youth community to come out, speak up and have a voice of their own.

Is it easier for the younger generation to come out compared to a decade ago?

Considering I’m the ‘oldest’ in YOH, I can certainly say yes. They very much have the support and resources to turn to when they come out today – from Pelangi Pride Center to Oogachaga to YOH to Sayoni to online platforms like Trevvy and Fridae. Youths don’t have to feel that they are alone should they choose to come out.

What are the issues that today’s LGBTQ youth face today?

Lately, we’ve been hearing quite a fair bit of name calling and bullying that is going unreported in schools during our Support Group sessions. Making schools safe for queer youths is still pretty much unheard of, but there are strides in that some queer teachers in some schools have taken it upon themselves to make sure that these youths are safe and, hopefully the bullying stops and ends.

What are you going to wear to Pink Dot?

Pink of course! We had YOH tee shirts made for the event, and we’re very busy planning our booth for the event. Do come down to Pink Dot to talk to us! And most of all to enjoy and bask in the sea of Pink!

Lastly, If there’s one message SG LGBTQ youths should know, what is it?

I’m going to give three. Never lose sight of who you are inside. Feel free to feel everything you want to. Be happy doing what you are most passionate about!

AM

Keep in touch!

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TV host and writer Anita Kapoor, shot to fame as the clear favourite winner of a Discovery travel host search and has not looked back since. Insatiably curious and possessing a natural wit, this former magazine editor has explored the world for Discovery TLC, AXN, Lonely Planet, Channel News Asia and OKTO, and Starwood Asia Pacific channels, forever on a quest to pioneer the non-conformist stories and locations, especially to connect with the provocateurs who move their worlds.

She is an ambassador for the Singapore chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and her advocacies include Willing Hearts which feeds Singapore’s marginalised, Magic Bus which empowers childrens’ lives in India through sports, and A Single Love which supports single parents. She has also spoken at TEDx Singapore Women 2012 on ‘Female to Female Misogyny in the First World’.

As a Pink Dot ambassador this year, Anita hopes to extend her voice on issues of equality as she firmly believes that everyone deserves equal rights, regardless of the hand they have been dealt in life.

“I see the rights of LGBT people as human rights, really. Everyone deserves to be treated equally – in society, in employment and in the eyes of the law. I believe that as fellow human beings, it’s important to stand together – to speak up for one another when we have the ability and opportunity to do so.”

Anita continues: “There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of people we need to reach out to. Every one of us has the capacity to be a hero to someone else. I hope more Singaporeans will join us at this year’s Pink Dot. Because together, we can make this a more inclusive society for everyone.”