RainbowYOUTH’s joint initiative with HELL Pizza, which saw 3,000 T-shirts up for sale in support of LGBTQIA+ rights in Aotearoa, has raised a “game-changing” $75,000 and increased awareness of the issues facing one of the country’s more vulnerable communities.
RainbowYOUTH communications manager and 2IC Toni Duder said that HELL’s involvement with the campaign has been a "game-changer” for the LGBTQIA+ charity.
“Not only does HELL’s support mark a significant financial contribution for RainbowYOUTH, it also has given thousands of people the opportunity to show their support of the queer, gender diverse and intersex people in their lives,” said Duder.
“We’re so grateful to the team at HELL for their commitment to this kaupapa; they have given us the capacity to sustain the life-saving work we already do and to reach more places around the country in support of our rangatahi.”
Fit to a tee
For the campaign, custom-designed, limited-edition T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘The Only HELL I’m Going To’ were sold online, with all proceeds donated by HELL to RainbowYOUTH.
HELL general manager Ben Cumming said the company was proud to help raise awareness of such an important issue facing Kiwi youth and wider New Zealand society.
“RainbowYOUTH is an inspiring organisation that does a lot for the LGBTIQA+ community, so when we were approached and asked for help, we instantly wanted to get involved and quickly came up with the idea of producing a T-shirt,” said Cumming.
“Our goal was to have as many people as possible buy the T-shirts and wear them with pride to show their support – the outcome has been extremely positive.
“We’re really pleased to have helped RainbowYOUTH reach its fundraising target, and to have generated such a positive response from the many Kiwis who came out in support of this campaign.”
Cumming said the campaign was a natural fit with the company’s long-running activities in support of young Kiwis and families, who are “going through or have been through ‘hell’”.
Where will the money go?
RainbowYOUTH communications manager and 2IC Toni Duder said the money will be used to continue Rainbow YOUTH’s work “providing life-saving support, information and safe spaces to queer, gender diverse and intersex rangatahi”.
“The money will bolster our regional outreach, particularly where we work with rural communities to help create peer-support groups, to produce and distribute educational resources around sexuality and gender, and to run workshops to up-skill local support workers around the challenges faced by our community.”
Speaking about the benefits of such regional support groups, one 18-year-old outreach leader said: “We have created a safe and welcoming space for youth to be themselves and talk to people within their community, and to talk about things they felt they couldn’t before.
“I feel a sense of purpose running this group, and I feel a sense of comfort knowing that the group is helping not only myself, but many other people in their journey to accepting themselves.”
Well-known supporters included former All Black captain Andy Leslie, former Black Cap Mark Greatbatch, Silver Fern Ameliaranne Ekenasio, former Black Sox captain Mark Sorenson, Fat Freddy’s Drop vocalist Dallas Tamaira, international rugby union player and coach Filo Tiatia, actress Loren Taylor, Panhead owner Mike Neilson, and ex Saints captain Damien Ekenasio.
RainbowYOUTH is a youth-led, youth-focused, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping improve the lives of LGBTIQA+ people up to the age of 27.
Established in 1989 to create a safe, inclusive, accepting and diverse family environment, the charity has grown from strength to strength and now has two offices across Aotearoa– with specialised peer-support groups in Auckland, Dunedin, Kawerau, New Plymouth, Waihi, Rotorua, Tauranga and Whangarei.
The following information has been taken from Suicide prevention and the rainbow population – A Strategy to Prevent Suicide in New Zealand 2017: Draft for public consultation.
There is little population data identifying the size of the LGBTIQA+ population in Aotearoa, however, indications are that it comprises between 6-15% of the population.
A 2015 review of NZ’s support sector for rainbow young people across NZ found that 76% of rainbow support groups were working with young people who were suicidal, 65% with young people who had lost friends to suicide, and nearly half had worked with a young person who had later died by suicide.