Showcasing LGBTQIA+ modes of expression to expand our visual representation

Teen Qwear

Providing an affirming publication platform for LGBTQIA and questioning teens

Photo by Rupi (Boston Pride 2015)

Photo by Rupi (Boston Pride 2015)

About the Project

The Teen Qwear project provides an affirming publication platform for LGBTQIA teens aged 12-19 to share their stories stories around fashion, style, presentation, and identity. We choose pieces based on the content and potential rather than writing level. We then match the teen with one of our writers to work as a mentor in bringing their piece to the publication stage. The Teen Qwear project is open to all LGBTQIA teens with a special focus on those most at risk, such as teens of color, teens of size, and teens of trans experience.

LGBTQIA teens face barriers in nearly every aspect of life. Often lacking a support network from family, school, and communities, LGBTQIA teens are six times more likely to experience depression. They are routinely denied access to affirming places of worship, clubs, sports, and other public activities. They are often mistreated by health officials, or refused medical care. The bathroom controversy is just one of the many urgent issues facing today's LGBTQIA teens— without the protections to access a safe bathroom or locker room, trans students are stripped of the chance to learn. LGBTQIA teens experience such extreme bullying at school that they miss more than five times as much school as other students (source.) LGBTQIA teens of color face increased harassment from law enforcement and improper treatment in detention facilities. Due to lack of familial support, the homelessness rate among the LGBTQIA teen population is rampant, making up 40 percent of the entire homeless teen population.

Because many publications outlets geared towards teens refuse to publish pieces related to the queer experience, it is vital that we provide a space for these teens to find their voices and thrive.

 

Note From Sonny: Qwear Founding Editor

When I came out as queer at age 16, I felt completely alone. I had such little self-confidence that I didn't know I was smart enough to succeed in school. The doctor offered little relief — they constantly forced me to have exams that destroyed my sense of self. I went to many therapists, but sadly they were all homophobic — some of them didn't even believe me when I told them I was queer. I was so exhausted from advocating for the right to exist that I didn't have much energy to focus on school work.

And as a white, middle class kid with access to queer-friendly spaces, I was one of the lucky ones. For the LGBTQIA population, I am the 1 percent.

Through Teen Qwear, I hope to provide at-risk LGBTQIA youth the opportunity to become powerful writers and discover their self-expression. When I was a kid, I only knew a handful of queer adults. It was hard to imagine my future when I didn't see myself reflected anywhere in the media or amongst the adults I knew. This is why we are now providing the teens who join our program to work with a mentor from our team. This will give them a chance to work with an adult who values them and who they can see themselves in.

Thank you for reading this page and for your support, whether financial or by simply spreading the word. Together we can make the world safer for the next generation to thrive.

 

Our goals are:

1. To give LGBTQIA kids a safe space to explore self-presentation through sharing photos and stories

2. To repair the imbalance in educational opportunities that LGBTQIA teens face in developing writing skills

3. To allow LGBTQIA teens across educational, economic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to learn about one another's experiences 

4. To help LGBTQIA teens build the communication skills necessary to advocate for themselves in harsh environments

5. To provide LGBTQIA teens with a mentorship experience that will help them overcome the stigma they face and see hope for their futures

 

Teen Qwear is lead by Qwear's writing team and runs on individual contributions. If you wish to support our work, please donate here! We greatly appreciate your support, however nominal the amount.

FAQ

What happens if a teen tells you they are considering hurting themselves or others? 

If faced with any issue where we think a child is at risk, we will follow the protocol suggested by Teen Line

What criteria are you using to select pieces?

We are looking for stories that are unique, heartfelt, and that haven't been heard yet. We base our selection process on the content of the piece - not the writing quality.