Posted by & filed under Inner West Independent.

An inner west art studio and gallery will be transformed this Saturday into a safe space for gay youth to celebrate as part of International Day Against Homophobia, or IDAHO.

International gay youth organisation, Wear It Purple, is hosting the youth-friendly festival of music, artworks and workshops at Chippendale’s Pine Street Creative Arts Centre in a bid to take a stand against homophobic bullying in Sydney.

Promoting a message of self-acceptance – “you have the right to be proud of who you are” – Wear It Purple formed in the US in 2010 following a chilling spate of gay youth suicides.

The movement has since spread to other countries where the effort to raise awareness about homophobic violence and youth suicide is championed by university and high school students.

Spokesman for Wear It Purple in Australia, Scott Williams, says this Saturday’s celebrations are about giving young people in the GLBTIQ community a voice, helping to dispel the isolation many feel, and ultimately, to reduce the numbers of homophobic related suicides.

“A lot has been done, sure, but there is still a long way to go,” Williams said.

“Same sex attracted youth are 14 times more likely to commit suicide, while transgender youth are 47times more likely to commit suicide.

“Gay people still don’t have the freedom to marry; people who want to change their sex can’t do so through Medicare. The law has a long way to go to fully embrace people in the GLBTIQ community.”

The event, supported by the City of Sydney, will include the annual IDAHO Exhibition, a community project featuring artworks by Sydney and New South Wales GLBTIQ artists. This year’s exhibition, themed ‘Fragility’, aims to reach out to people who feel marginalised bytheir experiences of homophobia.

“This event is about giving people an opportunity to celebrate themselves as well as a chance to share their experiences of homophobic violence in a safe and supportive environment,” Williams said.

The event is open to all, but is aimed specifically at under 25s who are at risk, particularly of suicide and self harm, as a result of homophobic bullying and marginalisation.

Pine Street Creative Arts Centre is a community-based working studio and gallery offering a range of arts programs across different mediums for people of all ages. For more information, visit http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/pinestreet/.

For more details about Wear It Purple or IDAHO visit www.wearitpurple.org and www.idahosydney.org.

By Tamara Smallhorn