Publish Date: 15/08/2013
Sarah Marchant, 24 and Schuylar Kerkhoff-Harvey, 17, from Norwich, are constructing a “gay booth” to highlight the abuse gay people across the UK receive on a daily basis. People entering the booth will be plunged into darkness while typical homophobic insults are hurled at them through speakers, giving them insight into how it feels to be a victim of homophobic bullying.
Sarah and Schuylar are ‘Fixers’ – a movement of young people tackling issues they feel strongly about to make a difference to others. As part of their campaign they are working with professional producers. Due to a recent grant from the Big Lottery Fund, Fixers is expanding over the next three years throughout the UK – including England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – recruiting up to 20,000 new Fixers to tackle issues affecting everyone today, often based on ideas from their own experiences.
What made you decide to choose the topic of Homophobic bullying?
“It’s still a major issue in schools today that needs to be addressed and people need to be aware of the negative impact that it has on individuals. It is not just something that happens in schools to young people; but to lesbian, gay and bisexual people of all ages in their everyday lives.”
Why is this topic important to you?
“Because it’s such as common issue. Whilst homophobic bullying may never end, it still needs to be highlighted, especially the impact it can have on peope’s mental health!”
How has your sexuality influenced the life you live today?
“The fact that we won’t accept being treated like second class citizens has made us stronger. We tend to get on with my everyday life and the older we get the more we realise that sexuality is only a small part of who we are.”
How do you think mainstream society should treat LGB people?
“The same as everyone, with respect and understanding. That isn’t much to ask is it?”
What made you think of the idea of the gay booth?
“It was one of those light bulb moments that just comes to you! Even though we have the posters that we made with ITV Fixers, reading about homophobic bullying is different so we thought it would be great if individuals could experience the verbal insults that some LGB individuals experience in the streets.”
What is the main message you want the people who experience the gay booth to see?
“That being gay is still no different to being heterosexual but yet we still continue to be a target of abuse. We really want people who enter the gay booth to have an understanding of what it is like to be abused. If people are offended on the day of the exhibition of “Take a walk in our shoes” then job done is all we can say!”
For more information about the Fixers scheme visit www.fixers.org.uk
We interviewed Sarah and Schuylar in the latest issue of outnorthwest, our magazine for the LGB community, read it online here.