Naked Among Thistles is an anthology of creative writing about LGBT+ identities and mental wellbeing. It came out of the Speak Out project, which I ran when I was working on LGBT Health and Wellbeing‘s mental health project. Through four writing workshops, and an open submissions process, we put together a collaborative book – which we launched to a hundred-strong audience at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in February 2013.
LGBT+ people have a much higher rate of mental ill health than the general population – which is not all that surprising given that we face discrimination, rejection, and even violence. This project was designed to create a space to talk about issues which are so often silenced, as well as to tackle stigma, aid understanding, and to create a sense of solidarity within the community.
I wrote an article for The Skinny talking about the project. Here’s an extract:
Ultimately, creative writing can make us feel less alone; it offers connection just as it celebrates difference. There is power in visibility, particularly when that visibility is human and expressive. Stories, by their unique potential for creating understanding and humanising ‘issues’are a great way of fighting the stigma that often comes with LGBT+ identities and/or mental ill health – so that the stories of the future can be about love and self-determination in a world which nurtures everyone’s wellbeing and diverse identities equally.
You can read the full article here – page 29.
I loved working on this project. It was one of those life-changing experiences which clarify what you want to be doing in the world.
Naked Among Thistles is available online for free.
You can read the Impact Report I wrote about the whole project here. It includes an interview with a participant, as well as lots of detail about what we did and what sort of impact that had. It might be helpful if you’re thinking of running a similar project, and it gives you a sense of how I work if you are interested in working with me.