Paul J. Burgess is the founder, Writer and Actor at Pink Triangle LGB&T Theatre Group. He’s also a Teacher, a Youth Worker and more importantly a Human being. This month Paul has kindly agreed to be GW’s guest writer. So without further delay here is Paul’s GW guest editorial. 

pinktriangleIncredibly honest power in such few words. “It takes a village to raise a child” is often attributed as an African proverb, yet if you look it up there is no singular source. There are in fact many African proverbs which use different words to say the same thing. I wish it was a statement that we, and by we I mean all of us, paid more attention to. Of course, the adults of the world have a nice little out clause to counteract this powerful and all important statement. “Do as I say, not as I do”. How adept we are at shirking our collective responsibility.

I hear people of a certain age constantly griping about how very different the youth of today are. Less manners, less respect, more demands, too much freedom. The frightening part is that there are strong elements of truth in all of these statements, but, and here’s the rub. How do you think it got this way? It was us. We did it. Our self pity and inability to move on created this, and the media held our hand all the way.

I’ve personally known people who thought, believed, that a clip around the ear when they were misbehaving as children constituted child abuse. I’ve seen these same people over compensate. Spoil their own children; give them a sense of entitlement before they’ve even developed a personality. Yet we wonder what’s going wrong. There are way too many adults treating way too many young people like Faberge eggs. Shielding their eyes from the everyday norms of the world. Wrapping them in cotton wool to ‘protect them’ from a world they desperately need to learn about.

As the creator, co-founder and director of Pink Triangle Theatre, who has also worked many hours in the field of youth work and teaching, I see a very different side to the young people too many others needlessly protect. They are young PEOPLE, slowly but surely developing into adults and hungry to know, to really know about the world they live in. Strange that they are considered old and wise enough to own a mobile phone, travel to school alone, have independence in the evenings after school, even their own house key to come home when they choose.

Try to make them responsible for their own actions, try to teach them about their world and suddenly they’re not ready.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children” – Ancient Indian Proverb.
That’s another phrase that constantly rings in my ears. When I was younger, I longed for someone older to have already laid down a safe but knowledgeable path for me. There were times I needed to know that path was accessible, so badly, and yet I struggled to find it. So what gives me the right, now that I’m an adult myself, to shirk that responsibility?
Nothing! Not one damn thing.

Every young person I have ever worked with has known I am gay. Without exception. It is and will always be one of the very first things I reveal about myself. I believe that it is my duty and responsibility as a member of the LGBT community to never hide that, never wait to be asked.

It takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to maintain an adult.

Be out. Be proud. Be open and honest with people of all ages. It is your responsibility to do so.

Categories: From the Creators

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