Sometimes floating through social media you see something, click on a link and find a piece that really connects with you. That’s what happened the day Lyra posted her blog ‘Letter to my 14 year old self’. I came across it on twitter, started reading and it was so powerful I felt compelled to message Lyra and thank her for the bravery of sharing her story.
It made me reflect on my own journey, growing up and some of the dramas in my teenage years. Whilst I didn’t have a secret like Lyra, I could identify with the twists and turns of trying to shape who I was and where I was going without really having a clue. A note from my future self, telling me things were going to be ok would have been comforting.
It was a few months later before I got to share my feedback on the blog in person with Lyra. We met up through the Young Influencers network when she had an idea for pulling together creative entrepreneurs to support each other. It was around the time I was finishing up producing The Monday Club, my first film. Through chatting I asked about turning the story into a short film, hoping it could reach an even bigger audience. And so the journey began in making the film.
Like all things it took a little longer than expected. We were still working through next steps of The Monday Club and I was heavily involved in developing the Young Influencers Network, so time was scarce. I also got promoted in work, moved house and started dating so there was a lot going on. My commitment to the piece remained, firstly for the reflective experience it had given me which I think we can all benefit from sometimes and more importantly for the story it told about being gay and coming out.
My parents were involved in the trade union movement all my life so I heard the word equality before I ever knew what it meant. It is something that sits deep inside me. Looking back it’s probably no wonder I ended up studying human rights law. This story needed to be heard and was something I was willing to invest money and time making it so. No one should have to experience the hate Lyra felt. Living in Northern Ireland served as a regularly reminder with the discussion on marriage equality. Northern Ireland sitting apart from the rest of the U.K and Ireland legally on the issue. But the struggles young people face are certainly not unique to Northern Ireland, it is a story that could travel.
So we did it! Stay Beautiful Films produced Letter to my 14 year old self, working with another talented bunch of people. Since launching the film online this week the response has been amazing. Thousands of people have watched it in over 25 countries. The film is touching people the way I connected with the story and we have had hundreds of comments. It has been covered in the Irish Times, Pink News and Diva Magazine.
Thanks to everyone who has supported us in this journey. You can help us reach more people. Watch, like and share!