Queer Youth Group Writing Club
$50,000.00 1-year funding
P.E.E.R.S. Alliance serves people of all genders and sexual orientations in the promotion of sexual health and well-being. It supports and promotes harm reduction strategies to people who use drugs so they can work to reduce their risk of negative health outcomes. The organization also strives to address underlying issues affecting the health and welfare of our communities by countering stigma and creating environments where all are welcome.
PEI Writers’ Guild
The PEI Writers’ Guild has a vision to create a thriving and inclusive writing community on P.E.I. It has a mission to promote writing and to inspire, support, and encourage established, emerging, and potential writers to find their voice, improve their craft, and experience success in their writing.
The goal was to create a safe space for queer youth to meet several times a month, enabling them to express themselves through writing and work together to create a collaborative book that would be professionally published, distributed, and sold.
The project began with a tight timeline, but the enthusiasm and dedication of 17 youth participants played a role in making it a success. Over the course of the year, facilitators leading the Writing Club witness the young participants learn about themselves, hone life and writing skills, have fun, and grow more comfortable asking for help when needed.
Photo by Dee Miguel
The hard work and passion of participants were matched by the facilitators and local volunteers who showed up again and again to offer their time, energy, mentorship, and guidance.
“We were trying to create a community of youth, but we were also trying to create a community where youth know that there are adults who are doing this work and who are writers and they could see themselves in that,” said Vanessa Bradley, P.E.E.R.S. Alliance’s Community Education and Engagement Manager. “I think that we really succeeded there.”
Beyond its focus on writing development, the Club had a profound impact on the mental well-being and resilience of these young 2SLGBTQ+ community members and allies. In the final survey, 100% of participants responded “yes” when asked if writing club helped them feel less isolated. Additionally, 100% of youth said that writing club helped them build and create friendships.
The culmination of the Club’s year was marked by a successful book launch event held on July 24, 2023, just in time for PEI’s Pride Festival. It served as a celebration of the creative talent that the group channeled into their anthology, “Are We Friends Now?”: An Anthology By and About 2SLGBTQ+ Youth, which features a collection of captivating stories, powerful poems, and thought-provoking pieces contributed by the young authors as well as facilitators.
Although they were given the option to use a pen name, each of the youth chose to be published under their own name. The sense of ownership that they had over their work and the book was evident, said Bradley.
Photo by Dee Miguel
The youth’s response to the Writing Club:
- Said they felt less isolated.
- Said it built and created friendship.
- Said it helped them connect with the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
- Stated they coped or kind of coped better with mental health issues now than at the beginning of the Writing Club.
Photo by Dee Miguel
“My hope is to expand the community that we’ve started,” said Bradley. “I’m hoping some new folks join. I’m also just hoping that the youth continue to write and continue to talk about their writing with each other.”
“Moving forward, if we grow that community, I have no doubts that it will grow very naturally,” explained Hogan. “That’s a really sweet thing to think about… that there is no worry.”
Find “Are We Friends Yet?” at Bookmark Charlottetown:
Funds from the sales of the anthology will allow the Writers’ Guild to continue supporting additional writing clubs for other marginalized youth.