Hear from LGBTQIA+ community member, Jody Marie, how her experience as a Raise mentor has helped her feel accepted and appreciated, which has spurred her to inspire others about the LGBTQIA+ community and perfectly exemplifies this year's theme for Wear It Purple Day, "Write Your Story"...
“It is so important to have adults of any gender or sexuality talk about their fears and feelings when they were young especially before, during and after high school. When we feel vulnerable, we are asking for understanding, acceptance and hope, far removed from gender, religion or politics etc. These are basic human needs.”
These are the words of Jody Marie, a daughter, sister, friend, student, transwoman and Raise mentor. Not only are Jody’s words powerful, but they also resonate so perfectly with this year’s theme for Wear It Purple Day, “Write Your Story”.
For young people who identify as LGBTQIA+, the theme represents the importance of taking ownership of their narratives and sharing their experiences in their own voices. This process of storytelling can be empowering and affirming - and by speaking from their hearts - young people can also contribute to a broader cultural shift towards greater acceptance and visibility for LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Using the theme from Wear it Purple Day, Raise wanted to highlight one of our fabulous mentors, who is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and understand why they wanted to be a mentor with Raise and how having a mentor when they were young may have helped them navigate the sometimes challenging, teenage years.
Jody’s story is an all too common one. She grew up in a small community where she felt she could not explore her identity fully, safely and without judgement, so she dropped out of school and moved away. These experiences informed Jody’s decision to become a mentor with Raise. Jody said,
“I want to undemonize (sic) being LGBTQIA+ as we pay our bills and contribute to society, just like everyone else!”
Jody also wants to educate and inspire both young people and adults, about the LGBTQIA+ community, as what young people can’t see they cannot aspire to be. She feels that the most important thing she has learnt as a mentor is showing young people respect by listening to them non-judgmentally and making them feel like they are being heard and understood. Jody reflected on the difference a mentor may have had on her life, including school engagement, if she had had a mentor at a young age.
Since she engaged with Raise, Jody has felt accepted and appreciated for her efforts, and within her program, she feels accepted by the school, mentees and mentors. Jody mentioned that she has been misgendered* a few times, but she felt safe and confident enough to correct the person and move forward. She is excited to hear about the work Raise is doing to educate and improve our processes to ensure everyone feels welcomed - no matter their gender, sexuality, culture or ethnicity. Jody welcomes more visible representation but cautions Raise, and all organisations, from making it tokenistic and not genuine.
Jody finished our interviewing by stating, “I grow and I learn with every session, and not just about me. Young people feel good talking to me and that unconditional acceptance feels good.” Jody is the perfect example of Wear It Purple Day’s three main pillars of this year’s campaign: Visibility, Community and Acceptance. We're lucky to have Jody in our village.
*Misgendering occurs when you intentionally or unintentionally refer to a person, relate to a person, or use language to describe a person that doesn’t align with their affirmed gender.