ROVE – an experience
“Year after year we condemn the media fed fear and hate that separates nations from nations and us from them. We condemn those walls every day. And yet every day we erect walls on our own streets and treat our neighbours like strangers and don’t even care to know their names and we claim we are working for Peace. We’re all singing songs of “No War”, but what about the wars we fight with those we love behind our own front doors?”
The answer to the previous question is the reason why we decided to participate in ROVE training, a training for youth workers. It’s because we wanted to Raise Our Voices for Empowerment of those who are having a hard time doing it for themselves. ROVE was an Erasmus+ project that took place in Gandarío, Spain, in April 2019, and was organised by the Spanish organisation Xeración and Active Rainbow. It included 17 people (14 participants + 3 trainers) from 8 different countries. Through three different methods; storytelling, social theatre and media, we learned how to take action when it comes to LGBTQIA+ people, their visibility and rights. We combined all our knowledge into a street action that we implemented in Ferrol, Galicia. That was the most powerful part of our training.
What we learned was not just the three methods, but we also developed skills that we wouldn’t have in our normal day to day life. We got pushed out of our comfort zones a lot and did things we’ve never done before and probably never would if it wasn’t for ROVE. We grew personally and learned from each other’s personal stories. This was only possible because we created a safe bubble where everybody was able to express themselves and no one was judged. It is amazing how connected the group became and it was hard to leave beautiful Galicia after that five days long training.
When in Gandarío, we created our own video campaigns. We had one evening and one morning to come up with an idea, record it and edit the video. We did it all by ourselves. Most of us had zero experience in video making or editing. The videos were filmed and edited with our phones and these are two of them (see the rest in the ROVE playlist):
When we arrived in Ferrol we first visited Xeración, a youth association, our host organisation. Their volunteers helped us with our street actions. The first one was called Object Library. We gathered our personal objects and found real stories of people who died because of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. We printed out the name of the person, their age and a short description of who they were and why they passed away. We then placed the objects next to the descriptions and left them there for an hour for passbyers to read them. At the end each of us came back one by one and embodied the person whose story was written on the paper by taking the objects in our hands or putting them on. We were standing there together for a while until we all laid on the floor. That moment made it very powerful and we caught a lot of attention.
We also did two social experiments; a group of us and an individual got blindfolded. The first group was wearing white shirts with markers and signs in their hands that said “I am gay/bisexual/heterosexual. Would you like to leave me a message?” and the other one said “I am transgender and I trust you. Do you want to hug me?”. The response was incredible at both experiments. There was another theatre performance done at the main square and we went around the city with our Stony (the bisexual stone, which you should know so far if you’ve watched the video above), leaving behind kind traces. We also implemented a human library and got a permission to draw graffiti on a wall. With a help of the local community we made a Tree of Inclusion.
Because we no longer want to erect walls on our own streets and treat our neighbors like strangers. Everybody’s story deserves to be heard. We used the art and the wall to start including them and their stories! Because we no longer want to condemn the media fed fear and hate that separates nations from nations and us from them. We started doing our own media that will connect people! And because we no longer want to fight with those we love behind our own front doors.
The project ROVE – Raising Our Voices for Empowerment is an international training course co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.