How Proud2Be helped Charlie celebrate his whole self
Charlie Hindley will never forget the day he told teachers and staff at his school he was going to be presenting as a man. He was 16 and about to take his GCSEs. The idea of becoming his school’s first openly trans student was daunting.
Charlie, now 24, said, “It was a huge day. My family already knew I was trans, but were having a hard time getting their heads around it. And my school was like, ‘how are we going to handle this?’ It was really stressful.”
Growing up in Ashburton, a small town on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park, Charlie had few opportunities to meet other trans people. He said, “For a long time I felt like the only one in the world who felt this way. Most of the queer and trans stories I heard took place in cities and places where there was a bigger group of likeminded people. It was really tough.”
The same day he told staff at his school about transitioning Charlie made his first visit to a youth club organised by Proud2Be, the LGBTQ+ project he credits with changing his life. It felt safe and welcoming the moment he entered.
Charlie said, “straight away I thought ‘this is a place where there are other people like me. It was the first place where me being trans wasn’t a problem – it was just a part of me that could be celebrated. At the youth club my whole self was celebrated, which wasn’t something I had at the time in other parts of my life.”
Proud2Be – a project supported by funding made possible by National Lottery players - was set up in 2011 by twins Max and Maya Price. They were inspired by the mental health issues they faced as a result of the bullying, isolation and discrimination they experienced growing up as LGBTQ+ in a rural setting.
Some 12 years down the track, Proud2Be has grown into a thriving social enterprise supporting LGBTQ+ young people, families and adults in Devon and beyond with weekly groups and 1 to 1 mentoring sessions. Charlie has joined the team as a Youth Support Worker, providing people aged 13-18 the information, advice and support that made such a difference to him in his mid teens.
He said, “It’s been quite emotional – everyone’s story is different, but there’s always that sense of relief when they walk through the door. You hear people saying they hit rock bottom and didn’t have anyone else to talk to. I’ve got the best job in the world, I really have.”
Since The National Lottery began, more than 1400 LGBTQI+ projects have been supported with more than £64Million of National Lottery funding.
12th June 2023
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