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A challenge taken up by the members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisex and Trans) Youth Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera association, determined to bring about a shift in people's perceptions.
Acting together to combat the prejudices that oppress gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. This is the aim of the LGBT Youth Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera association, founded in 2010 by young people wanting to raise public awareness on matters of sexual orientation. A sensitive issue which they introduce to the general public by organizing events and meetings designed to draw in passers-by and encourage them to stop and think.
The first stage of their "InterActions on Tour" programme took place in Geneva from 31 August to 2 September. Over the three days, the LGBT Youth Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera organizers gave ample evidence of the ability of young people to engage in activities of public interest. Despite bad weather on Saturday, they were able to engage passers-by in discussion, using game-type activities focusing on the social barriers that generate a sense of fear and isolation among young homosexuals.
As Sandrine Cina, co-director of the association explains: "These games enable us to approach passers-by, who otherwise would not be willing to stop and discuss matters of sexuality." The proposed activities are designed to make people aware of the discrimination that exists first of all in our own minds. Yet, in daily life, there is a vast range of experiences that we have in common with one another." A play activity, such as asking someone to draw an image of a gay man, a lesbian or a heterosexual individual, enables the participants to understand that sexual orientation presents absolutely no barrier to integration but, on the contrary, is one of those countless differentiating factors that make up a person's identity. It is no more barrier than a particular character trait or the ideas they hold."
"What we are trying to demonstrate," continues Sandrine Cina, "is that often many social groups have similar outlooks but, because of the prejudices surrounding another group, instead of being brought closer by this common experience, they see themselves as incompatible. We try first of all to disprove these preconceived ideas, then to bring the two groups together. In this way, it is possible to get to know others and develop a new appreciation of the social group they represent."
The sense of isolation experienced by a foreigner unable to express himself in the local language is therefore very similar to that of a young homosexual for whom it is impossible to freely express his sexuality. Two different kinds of barriers to expression, both leading to the same feeling of marginalization. But isn't this feeling of "not being part of the group", albeit on an individual basis, something we all experience as we live our lives? This simple question should provide food for thought for those who, even today, erect barriers in the face of a diversity which asks only to be presented to the public for what it really is, not in terms of received ideas which mask the truth.
The second stage of the "InterActions On Tour" project was held in Berne from 12 to 14 October 2012; The third and final stage in Fribourg from 23 to 25 November 2012.