Invest in LGBTQI2S Youth:
Who is Winnie Payne? Existing in the duality of layered identities, in their own words, Winnie would say that they are ‘a lot of things’.
Growing up as a biracial person of Scottish and Filipino ancestry, Winnie has always searched for balance when it came to their identities, especially regarding gender and sexuality.
This concept that LGBTQI2S youth must exist as one thing or another, is something that Winnie and many other youths in the community have experienced. It’s a futile narrative that often pushes LGBTQI2S youth to confine their identity in a box.
However, gender and sexuality are completely fluid. Friends of Ruby provides space for safe freedom of expression guiding LGBTQI2S youth in their journey toward knowing themselves better and allows them to come to the realization that they do not need to fit into anyone’s categories.
Winnie found Friends of Ruby at an intersecting time in their life — while dealing with barriers of the pandemic, they were in search of sustainable and healthy strategies to support their mental well-being.
During the pandemic, 47 percent of members of LGBTQI2S communities identified experiencing negative impacts on their mental health compared to 27 percent at the national average.
At the Youth Drop-in, Winnie connected with a Clinical Counsellor who reintroduced them to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and provided the space for them to reconnect with healthy emotional processing strategies
“I am proud of how far I’ve come with my gender and sexuality. I am pansexual and non-binary which I struggled with when I was a kid/teenager … Now being confident in who I am is one of the things I’m most proud of!”
Winnie’s journey inspired them to be where they are today, at a place where they can contribute to societal change. Friends of Ruby is just one small part of their story. For LGBTQI2S youth like Winnie, programming and services at the Drop-in have the capability to provide the essential tools for mental well-being that allows youth to arrive at a place of self-confidence. This affirmation in their identities allows them to take part in the bigger picture moving toward societal change.
Friends of Ruby provides LGBTQI2S youth with the tools for mental supports that gives them the opportunity to not only make a difference in their own lives, but also impact the lives of others.