Your Stories - Galaxy Members
I started Galaxy around 4-5 years ago, after not being out long my boyfriend at the time took me down there so I could meet new people and learn more about the LGBT [community]. During my time at Galaxy I met some of the most AMAZING people, friends I will have for many more years to come, which in this day and age is not something easily accomplished.
My first time at Galaxy I felt a little out of place, everyone knew everyone else and nobody had met me before and being the sceptical person I am I withdrew slightly. However, after being in the room for just over an hour, I finally started breaking my shell and talking about who I am and discussing stories of coming out etc. Galaxy was a very important process for me and help me to get the confidence to apply and work for an LGBT café that was situated in the centre of Hanley, it helped me to then be a part of our old LGBT network and helping to organise pride events.
But it also inspired me to want to help my generation and generations to follow. Where am I now? I’m in the process of becoming a professional drag artist who performs in Wales on a weekly basis, and I also work for a multi award winning gay nightclub called The Factory, situated in Hanley. It is safe to say, that I owe an awful lot to Andrew, Zoe and the Gaylife team, because without them and the journey I had, I would not have the confidence to be doing what I do now.
Hi, first of all let me introduce myself. I’m Jade, I started going to Galaxy around the age of 14, I’d heard about it through a friend who was having difficulties with her sexuality, she asked me to come along and it sounded like a really good idea plus she needed the moral support. I’d already come out as a lesbian at school and with my friends, I’d been through all of the drama that comes along with a label that some people personally have a problem with. I knew what it was like to feel like no one understood and like I was the only person in the whole of Stoke who was gay. Turns out I was very wrong!
The first time I went to Galaxy I met Zoe, at the time I remember thinking I’d never met someone more comfortable in their own skin, so OK with being GAY, no one else was there yet so we made our introductions and I felt very at ease, people arrived and nothing changed, everyone was just as pleasant as Zoe had been.
The more I went to Galaxy the and talked about the subject of being gay and I how I felt about women, the more confident I came and eventually plucked up the courage to tell my family I was gay, with the help of the team at Galaxy of course. I had been dreading this day since I realised what a lesbian was – worrying about how my family would react, more importantly my parents. I’m lucky enough to have parents who reacted with “You are who you are”.
I met my best friends through Galaxy, come to think of it, I met a lot of interesting people during my time there. Galaxy gave me the chance to socialise with people and meet people comfortable with my sexuality, it gave me the opportunity to learn about being respectful of what other uneducated might think, but never to hide who I am.
Now, I’m 21 years old, happily engaged to an amazing woman, I’m in the British Army and I still have the same friendship group back home that I did when I attended Galaxy.
Galaxy gave me the knowledge and courage to be who I am without fear of ridicule. It gave me confidence to be proud of who I was regardless of what people thought. I couldn’t change who I was and because of Galaxy, I wouldn’t even try.
I remember my first session at Galaxy felt like coming home. There really were other people out there like me! I remember looking around at the members of the group and thinking how relaxed everyone looked with each other. Everyone was so confident and comfortable with who they were. Unashamed and un-phased by their sexuality and completely unafraid to be themselves. I knew then that this was the kind of environment I wanted to be in. These were definitely my kind of people.
At 16 I had never heard the term LGBT and had no idea what it stood for and at my first session at Galaxy I had learnt what those letters meant. L, G and B so when I asked if there was “T” in the room, I was told it was kept in the kitchen next to the coffee, which was of course the most hilarious thing I’d ever heard and AND I got the joke! Gay people are too funny. That’s it, I thought, I’m coming back next week. And the week after that.
And I did! For nearly 2 years I spent most Saturday mornings working with the group on the G&Y magazine, learning about LGBT related issues, and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with my new friends. These friends were so important to me, they were my new gay family and my support network. I was so happy to be accepted into this circle. I don’t remember how we spent a lot of those afternoons but I know that I laughed a lot! It was probably the happiest couple of years in my teens. I was out, proud and loving life.
I loved the workers who ran the sessions at Galaxy. They were like older brothers and sisters who you could go to for advice and support as well as nag them for entertainment when you got bored. I seem to recall endless games of Limbo, Swivel-Chair races and Karaoke (which I thought I excelled at, so apologise here and now to anyone who had to sit through my wailing). It wasn’t all fun and games though, I learnt a lot from the workers as well. I probably owe my awareness of sexual health to them!
Here’s to another twenty years Galaxy, keep up the good work!
I started attending Galaxy around 4 years ago, as this very quiet, shy & extremely nervous young teenager. My first day I was so scared but you guys really made me feel comfortable and relaxed, so much that I kept coming back.
Over these past 4 years, with each weekly session I’ve become a better, more confident person, who is not afraid to express myself, be open and most importantly of all, be who I really am on a daily basis. Being around everyone at Galaxy has really improved my social and learning ability by interacting with other teenagers in the same boat as me and sharing details of each other’s life experiences. On top of all that, I’ve learnt a lot of important sexual health facts that have had a huge impact on the way I go about things, whether that being from just having a general chat with you guys or just from the 15 minutes (which always seemed longer) we do about sexual health.
The main point I’m trying to get across here is that it’s thanks to Galaxy and you guys as the youth workers, that I’ve developed into what I deem to be a much better, stronger and more confident person, which I feel would not have happened if it wasn’t for you. I seriously can’t thank you enough and I’m really going to miss being at Galaxy every week, as most of the time in between every Saturday I spend thinking about and looking forward to the next Saturday where I can spend another fun filled 4 hours with everyone at Galaxy.
Every opportunity I get, I’ll be coming up to Galaxy so this isn’t me closing the door completely just yet. You don’t get rid of ‘StJohnPaulFisherDaveBenHarryJeremy Of Galaxy’ that easily and I hope to be in the Gleeks again next year, but I wish you all and Galaxy the best of luck for the future and hope that it gets more and more LGBT youth through the door. It’s has such a positive impact on me, so why not them.
Keep in touch, and if there’s ever anything I can do for you, Galaxy or the Network, then just let me know as I’d be more than happy to help out in any way I can. I owe you all so much.
Best wishes and lots of love xxx
Before I came to Galaxy, I didn’t have many friends, and had no LGBT friends. I had been isolated at school because no-one wanted to be near me because they thought I ‘fancied’ them. I was nervous about going to Galaxy because I was afraid that no-one would like me, and I was worried about entering a new group of people.
I planned on going to Galaxy twice before I did, but never had the confidence to enter. When I finally did build up the courage to go, I was quiet and shy. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly, they included me in the conversations and invited me to join in with Galaxy Gleeks dance at Stoke Pride 2010. By the end of that session I was joining in with the games and felt relaxed. I felt confortable and where I belonged.
Galaxy has educated me about sexual health, including different STIs and safe sex. It has provided me with many memories and experiences, for example, Alton Towers, Stoke Pride, Galaxy Gleeks, Birmingham Pride, meet and greet at the Regent Theatre, and that is without the many great memories made within the Galaxy sessions.
It has been a place where I have made amazing friends and have had overwhelming support from Galaxy members and staff through good and bad times.
Galaxy has helped shape me into the person I am today, with the support and guidance from the staff and friends and memories made from the group. It has made me more sociable and confident, helping me make life decisions.
I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and although I am almost too old for Galaxy, I know I will always have the support of the staff.