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6 grassroots organisations supporting LGBTQ+ young people through music

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Sadly, today it's still not easy to be an LGBTQ+ young person. Nearly half (45 per cent) of LGBT pupils - including 64 per cent of trans pupils - are bullied for being LGBT in Britain's schools (Stonewall).

We know that music has the power to change a young person's life, whether that's through being able to express themselves better, find their community, or even discover their future career. That's why we want every young person to have the chance to make, learn or earn in music.

This LGBT+ History Month, take a look at some of the organisations we invest in that support LGBTQIA+ young people all year round.

This is made possible thanks to our funders the National Lottery via Arts Council England, players of People's Postcode Lottery, partners, fundraisers and donors.

1. Ark-T, Oxford

Ark-T is a local arts centre in Oxford that run music and arts projects for young people. Youth Music invests in the Music Against Prejudice (MAP) project, that aims to improve access to music-making for Disabled young people and LGBTQ young people aged 12-25 in Oxford, and raise awareness of the barriers they face to music. 

Find out more about their work in the video. 

2. Come Play With Me, Leeds

Come Play with Me is a not-for-profit based out of Leeds that supports local young people into sustainable careers in music. 

They’re best known for their split 7” singles club and encouraging under-represented people into music – the tag line is  ‘Not just for the straight, white, cis-gendered boys playing guitars!’ 

They deliver lots of projects and activities for women and LGBTQ+ people, including supporting album and single campaigns, mentoring, featuring LGBTQ+ and women in music panel events, supporting young promoters from under-represented genders who are LGBTQ+ and more. Learn more about them in their bi-monthly magazine.

3. My Pockets, Hull

My Pockets is an award winning production company based in Hull. They run the Lollypop Group – which is an opportunity for LGBTQ+ teens to meet, support each other and have fun. Usually this takes place in a community centre in East Riding, but over lockdown they moved to online sessions.


black and white photo of a group of women sitting on rows of chairs
Photo from Saffron

4. Saffron, Bristol

Saffron is a music tech initiative, based in Bristol, who are taking an intersectional approach to readdressing the gender imbalance in the industry. They do this by creating safe spaces for women and non-binary people to learn and build confidence.

Through their Youth Music Incubator Fund grant they are providing six young women or non-binary people with a 10-month springboard programme. Participants will receive a budget to develop their own creative projects, whilst receiving one-to-one mentoring and support, professional development coaching and access to digital music conferences and events.


5. Phizzical Productions, Leicester

Phizzical Productions is a Leicester-based organisation that commissions and produces unique South Asian arts and cultural experiences. Their project, funded by Youth Music, Battle for Bollywood, will work with young people aged 16-25, mainly from Leicester, including participants from the LGBTQ community and young people experiencing mental health issues. 

The six month programme will teach participants how to notate, recompose tracks and use specialist software to mix electronic and live sounds, that will lead to a showcase at Attenborough Arts. 

6. Tandem Theatre, Manchester

Tandem Theatre ran a music-making project called Zhoosh (funded by Youth Music), for musicians aged 11-18 who identify as LGBTQ+. The workshops explored individual musical abilities, genre and style preferences, developed skills in individual and group composition, lyric writing, singing, conducting and performance - and ended in the young musicians recording their own work in a professional studio.

The groups also performed in music venues in each of the respective boroughs and at the LGBT Centre in Manchester to celebrate LGBT history month. Listen to the 2019 album release on Soundcloud.

*Zhoosh is a term used in the Polari slang language popular in gay subculture meaning 'to make more exciting and lively'

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