Helping young queer South Australians step out into the community
The Stepping Out Workshop series for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men aged 18-30 is starting Saturday 6 May at 57 Hyde Street.
We asked Evan (he/they) about his experience volunteering as a workshop peer facilitator over the last two years, his drive to support the community, and how Stepping Out makes a positive impact on attendees.
Where did your passion for sexual health and community empowerment start?
“Being a gay, transgender, and disabled man, I have never felt truly ‘seen’ in sexual education and sexual representation more broadly. I was drawn to this area at a young age and intrigued by the complexities of human sexuality and identity.”
“When I finally reached 18, it felt natural to get involved in various communities and work towards a more sexually empowered community. Having strong and empowered figures in my life, especially in the TransMascSA community, led me down the path of accepting all things sex and identity.”
How are you supporting the community elsewhere?
“I’m studying to be an Occupational Therapist and have an intense passion for sexuality and disability. I plan to do my PhD in this area (at this point I’m thinking about the therapeutic application of kinks/BDSM!) and to work clinically with a focus on sexuality. I’m blessed to have the most open and accepting staff around me who are helping me nurture this interest and incorporate it into my current studies and prepare for my future research.”
What are some of the difficulties you feel young people face in navigating their identity and coming out?
“The current political climate globally is quite volatile for a lot of our community members, especially transgender folks. This can make it even more difficult for young people to navigate their identity and come out when it feels like they will be persecuted for doing so. Looking at the mainstream media coverage feels incredibly depressing at the best of times and downright alarming otherwise.”
How do you feel it might be getting easier to discuss sexuality and gender identity in South Australia?
“Despite wider negative media coverage, I feel it is getting easier and more acceptable to discuss gender and sexual identity in comparison to historical contexts.
It fills me with so much joy to see young queer people living their lives authentically and without shame.
Increased education, awareness, and positive media representation have opened up conversations and normalised diverse gender and sexual orientations.”
What impact did attending Stepping Out previously have on you and what skills did it help you develop?
“The Stepping Out Workshop really built my confidence in navigating social situations, as well as romantic and sexual ones. As an autistic person, I don’t really pick up on the small nuances in spoken and body language, so having everything explained to me bluntly and honestly helped my understanding of what people mean.”
“It also was important to me to debrief and discuss my complex feelings around my transgender and disabled identities, how that may influence my experiences, and how to deal with them. I overall now feel more at ease in these situations and this confidence has led me to some memorable times.”
Who do you think should attend Stepping Out and what difference do you feel the workshop will make for attendees?
“Anyone who is considering it should totally come along! I think this series of workshops is perfect for those newer to the community and anyone who feels they wish to deepen their knowledge around sexuality and community navigation. I hope to see attendees develop their confidence and self-advocacy and feel empowered by having greater education and understanding of their sexual health.”
You can see more of Evan’s sexuality and disability advocacy on Instagram here.
Find out more about the Stepping Out Workshops here.