If there was a kit for someone who is about to ‘come out’, what would you put in it?
London Pride visitors were unanimous in suggesting confetti, glitter and bottles of champagne. But those weren’t the contents of the rainbow-strewn drawstring bag they were holding. Instead of the celebratory items they expected, they found things needed for surviving on the street: a sleeping bag, a woolly hat, warm socks.
1 in 4 homeless people in the UK identify as LGBTIQ+. That’s the shocking statistic behind the Coming Out Kit created by AMV BBDO. You can’t buy the kit, of course: it shouldn’t even have to exist. Its sole purpose is to highlight an issue that isn’t on most people’s radar.
Gina Kelly and Olga Pope, the creatives behind the idea, said: “Pride London has come and gone, but not everyone could go home afterwards. As well as celebrating the achievements of the movement, we need to acknowledge that too many people still end up on the street just for being who they are.”
Each of the items in the Coming Out Kit is emblazoned with a quote from an LGBTIQ+ person telling their story, such as: “My first same-sex relationship turned violent and there was no refuge to go to”; “I spoke to my boss about being bullied since coming out as trans. He told me to ‘man up’ and laughed”. These stories show some of the reasons why this community is at a greater risk of homelessness, from family rejection and domestic violence to work discrimination and sexual exploitation.
The good news is, the UK’s first crisis shelter and community centre for vulnerable LGBTIQ+ people will soon be launching in London. Set up by The Outside Project in partnership with Stonewall Housing and funded by the Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund, the centre will offer 24/7 support for those who need it most: people who feel endangered, who are homeless and are affected by the lack of LGBTIQ+ appropriate refuge and shelter accommodation across London. Alongside the shelter, the community centre will host pop-up businesses and services and a co-working space.
The Outside Project is an independent grassroots organisation offering support and accommodation to LGBTIQ+ people who are in a crisis or have lost their homes through family rejection, hate crime, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, lack of specialist services and other issues.
As well as the online film, the campaign includes a website, comingoutkit.com, which shows the kit and all of its depressing contents. After reading the quotes and facts on the site, you can help The Outside Project by donating to or volunteering with the organisation, or even hosting someone in a crisis.
Gina Kelly and Olga Pope, AMV BBDO creative team behind the idea told us:
“Pride London has come and gone, but once the glitter had settled down, not everyone could go home. As well as celebrating the achievements of the movement, we need to acknowledge that too many people still end up on the street just for being who they are.
Our idea was based on a harrowing stat we’d found: a quarter of all homeless people in the UK identify as LGBTIQ+. We needed a hard-hitting way of highlighting this issue, but at the same time, the last thing we’d want to do was scare anyone who’s thinking of coming out. We worked closely with Carla Ecola, the founder and director of The Outside Project, to ensure that our approach and tone of voice was right. The same applied to making our film where we had to deliver some truly depressing facts to cheerful Pride visitors. How do you raise awareness of a heartbreaking truth without upsetting people? Luckily, both our film and our conversations with people at Pride ended on a positive note: thanks to people like the Outside Project and their supporters, there is hope. So, instead of letting LGBTIQ+ people stay in so-called ‘stealth mode’ out of fear, we should continue fighting prejudice and intolerance in every way we can, so that in the future coming out never leads to being down and out.
We are incredibly grateful for all the talented people who gave up their time to help us bring the campaign to life.”
Carla Ecola, The Outside Project founder and director, said: “The Coming Out Kit demonstrates the unique and additional struggles faced by our community that lead to crisis and homelessness. Thank you to the artists, activists, sector and LGBTIQ+ homeless community for inputting to the development of the project. We are currently looking for an appropriate space and additional funding for this innovative and much needed project to begin.”