Changing lives: Assessing the impact of an empowerment initiative for Jamaican tertiary-level LGBT
PRIDE in Action, Kingston, Jamaica
Jamaican LGBT youth are often rejected by families and society. Low self
-esteem, negative self-image, feelings of isolation, fear, and lack of support
options, spaces and role models leave them particularly at risk of depression,
and suicidal thoughts/ actions. Insecurities, conflicting value systems and lack of information about
their sexual and emotional orientation leave them vulnerable to HIV and other
sexually transmitted infections; HIV prevalence among MSM is 31.8% (MOH 2008).
A bi-weekly support group at the University of the West Indies, Mona
campus provides peer support, LGBT and sexual health related information and
social interaction. This group reaches individuals with a diversity of ages,
backgrounds and experience. Activities are designed to foster confidence and promote
empowerment of self. This non-judgmental space celebrates diversity and
encourages self-control and greater self-efficacy.
Beneficiaries report improved self-image, higher self-esteem and increased
knowledge relating to their experience as LGBT, enabling them to make
better-informed decisions about sexuality and in general. Individuals feel better equipped
to tackle issues and confront stigma and discrimination when they occur. Empowering
these LGBT youth and developing their leadership capacity has created a ripple
effect whereby they can also positively impact others in their wider circle/community
through advocacy and support. Participants report increased comfort with self generally, and
with their sexual orientation, and a subsequent improvement in their capacity
to articulate not only their experience as LGBT but generally, in all
interactions amongst peers, family and the wider society. Witnessing and participating in the
personal growth of self and others in this peer group setting allows beneficiaries
to better understand and appreciate their own and others' strengths.
Next steps: This intervention focuses on holistic development of the individual. From this base, additional ongoing
specific trainings in Advocacy, Peer Support, Leadership and Community
Development will add greater impact.
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