A young author hopes his new book will help members of the LGBTQ+ community navigate through stressful situations facing teenagers.
Wigan Borough student Oskar Leonard’s Everything Under the Rainbow is a collection of stories and advice, covering subjects such as coping with homophobic bullying and how to come out to your parents. The 17-year-old student from St John Rigby College shaped the book around advice that he himself would have found useful in previous years.
Oskar’s project was supported by Wigan Council’s BYOU youth group and has been dedicated to members and staff. Oskar said:
“I’ve written the book that I really needed a few years ago. Growing up as part of the LGBTQ+ community can be hard because you have extra issues to deal with on top of all the usual problems a teenager has.”
Oskar, who has always loved writing and who is inspired by authors from history such as Oscar Wilde, spent 6 months working on the book, including doing 2 months of research, which involved reading recent national studies on the challenges of being young and LGBT.
“Even things that you would imagine might affect everyone equally, often have a greater impact on the LGBT community. For example, young gay and lesbian people are much more likely to start smoking, possibly because smoking often brings people together, and LGBT people are also much more likely to become homeless at a young age, because of stress at home.
“You’re also dealing with issues unique to being LGBT, such as homophobic bullying and on top of that you’re working out who you are, sometimes trying to come to terms with that, and then thinking about how you’re going to tell your family and friends. I wanted to do something to help younger teenagers, who might not know where to begin seeking support.”
Oskar, who has listed lots of local advice services within the book, found his own source of support as a younger teenager by attending BYOU, a project set up to offer young LGBTQ+ teenagers in the borough a safe, confidential space to be themselves.
To find out more about Wigan Council’s BYOU youth group, email [email protected]