UCC's LGBT society has received an overwhemingly positive response for a poster campaign that highlights the very personal experiences of young people who have suffered abuse due to their sexual orientation.
The aim of the 'More Than Words' campaign is to raise awareness of the effects of casual homophobic slurs that are used in common parlance and challenge attitudes toward young people from the LGBT community.
Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic comments that are uttered as part of everyday language can have devastating effects on LGBT people and the Society hopes to teach people that such slurs are more than just uttered words.
Their poster campaign is being rolled out across UCC campus and features remarks such as 'that's so gay'; 'you're just confused' and 'you fucking faggot, I hope you die'.
Fiachra O'Connor, society chairperson and one of the people featured on the posters, said the campaign has resonated with people.
“The reaction has been really good. It's been positive within the community but also with people who are not LGBT,” he said.
“Kids as young as six and seven are saying things like 'that's gay' about things they don't like and they don't even know what the word 'gay' means.
“If you're exposed to that word in such a negative context at such an early age obviously, you're going to know, when you finally realise you are gay that you're not going to be totally accepted and that will add to the stress for coming out for teenagers and even adults.”
He hopes the hard-hitting messages will make people to revise their language and think about the effects of harmful words.
“[The words] might seem harmless but they can have a serious and dangerous effect on someone's life. If you hear someone saying something like [these phrases] call it out, or tell a person or authority. Just that simple act can prevent serious damage.”
Mr O'Connor, who came out as a 19-year-old last year, said he and his boyfriend have been the vicitms of such abuse while out walking in his hometown.
“Nobody should have to hear this just walking down the street with someone they love,” he said.
A young woman who also features in the campaign describes being unable to communicate her bisexuality as she was repeatedly told she was “just confused”.
All participants in the campaign are LGBT themselves, however, some participants remain anonymous as they are not completely 'out', to some extent a result of the discrimination shown.
If you have been affected by a situation similiar the LGBT helpline at 1890 929 539 or contact UCC SU Welfare Officer Rory O'Donnel at welfare@uccsu