LGBT Study Abroad Participants Support Young Activists in Greece

LGBT Study Abroad Participants Support Young Activists in Greece

Students pose just before joining in Colour Youth's street action

During the LGBT Center’s second LGBT study abroad experience in Greece this year, May 14-29, students from the University of Louisville collaborated with young activists in Athens and made a promise to “pay it forward” by supporting their efforts to make life better for Greek LGBT youth.  This December, they kept their promise by hosting a drag show at PLAY and raising funds to buy supplies for the group.

The activist group in Athens, called Colour Youth, is a key player in Greece’s LGBT community and works to meet some of the basic needs for young people.  The group often performs direct street action, handing out flyers and engaging people in conversations about equality and justice.  They manage their own crisis hotline for young people, collect data on hate crimes, and plan events to raise visibility about LGBT identity in a country where religious conservatism sets a strong tone for intolerance.  And they operate with very few funds and no permanent meeting space.

“We were so blown away by the amazing work done by Colour Youth and the fact that they are making a huge impact there,” said event organizer Brittany Cook.  “These are activists who are our own age and have fewer resources than we do, but they don’t let anything stop them from making a difference.”

Cook started planning the fundraiser shortly after returning from Greece, enlisting friends to perform in drag and asking PLAY to serve as the host location.

Held December 19, the show featured emcee Reva Deveraux and a cast of kings and queens all there to show their support. Study abroad participant Travis Phelps performed as Baebae Blaze, while Megan Gray and Ryan Coomer (who studied in Greece during the Center’s inaugural 2013 trip) assisted back stage.

Last year, Coomer led an effort to raise funds for another grassroots group in Athens called Rainbow Families.  Money raised last year helped publish Greece’s first children’s book about LGBT families.

The funds will be used to purchase rainbow wristbands emblazoned with the group’s name for events and street action.  Cook can’t wait to see them put to good use. “It seems like such a small thing, but having something like a wristband will do so much to help Colour Youth get its message out.  Sometimes young people don’t think they have a powerful voice, but Colour Youth is so fearless and fully engaged.”

View a video of Colour Youth and University of Louisville students doing direct street action here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ODjeFVCVdfQ

Read about last year’s project to help publish Greece’s first children’s book about LGBT families here:

http://louisville.edu/lgbt/news/lgbt-students-make-a-difference-in-greece

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