At Safer London intersectionality and identity are important in our work with young Londoners.

Each young Londoner we work alongside has a unique experience of life, one that is shaped by many factors – from where they grew up, to their race, religion, gender identity and sexuality.

Each Safer London caseworker adapts their approach to consider these intersecting factors, building a unique programme of support that will best work for the child or young person they are working with.

This LGBTQ+ History Month we explore the support one young Londoner received to help him explore his identity as a young gay Black man, through the perspective of his caseworker.

There was one young Londoner I worked with who when we began working together, didn’t want to talk about his sexuality or identity. However, by providing a safe, non-judgemental, non-pressurised space for him to explore who he is, over time he began to open up and talk about his identity as a young gay man. 

“A lot of the focus of our work was discussions around his identity. As well as his family’s often negative reactions towards his sexuality and how he felt and coped with this.

We looked at intersectionality in relation to his identity as a young Black gay male, as well as his religious and spiritual identity. We explored how all these intersecting facets of his identity impact on him. Through open and safe discussions, we were able to discuss his feelings around these issues, which allowed me to tailor my support to fit his needs. 

I was keen to assist him to explore his identity relating to his sexuality in a positive way, to help him move on and recover from the exploitation and abuse he’d experienced. In one of our sessions, we explored LGBTQ+ history month, with an emphasis on celebrating the achievements of the community and the barriers they’ve overcome. 

In our LGBTQ+ history session we discussed how the law has persecuted LGBTQ+ people and the profound negative effects this has had on the community. Particularly how this affected young people and children in school. We talked about Section 28 and how this restricted teachers and youth workers talking to LGBTQ+ young people about their sexuality and identity, as they risked prosecution or dismissal. We also discussed how LGBTQ+ content was taken off shelves and TV. 

Celebrities including Graham Norton (second right, in the baseball cap) protesting against Section 28 at London Pride in 1998 © Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As part of this work, we looked at LGBTQ+ themed books and authors. I sent a list of recommended books from which he picked his favourites, and I ordered them for him. The aim of getting him to engage with this literature was to help him feel further connected to the community and better understand his position within it.

Furthermore. with his permission, I facilitated alongside his social worker ways to explore his sexuality with his mother, with particular focus on her feelings towards his sexuality. The aim was to increase her understanding of his needs and be able to better support her son. Working on family dynamics and relationships is often central to our work with young Londoners. We understand the important role they play in the safety of their children and recognise that they too have experienced trauma and need a helping hand.  

As we came to the end of our work together. He expressed how he feels he knows who he is and more importantly – that is proud of who he is. He is positive about his future relationships, is sex positive and feels confident in expressing who he is.

I feel it was a hugely rewarding journey for both of us.”  

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