Queer youth have higher rates of homelessness, suicide, abuse and depression than heterosexual youth. Bend- It, a queer artist activist collective, helps queer and questioning youth express their identities positively through art and contact with LGBTQA artists.
Bend-It received funding to develop a series of arts workshops for queer teens, culminating in a showcase of the participants' work at the three-day Bend-It Festival at Cal Anderson and Volunteer parks on Capitol Hill in June 2009. The annual arts festival coincides with the Seattle Pride Parade.
In the weeks leading up to the festival, nine teaching artists led 43 teens in 16 workshop sessions covering zine creation, photography, fashion, spoken word, silkscreening and dance.
"Before coming to the workshop and discovering Bend-It, I had a two-dimensional idea of what gay was. I saw it as guys who like guys, and then girls who like girls," said a young workshop participant. "Likewise my idea of gender was limited; I only saw two boxes, male and female. The workshops introduced me to individuals who helped me expand my understanding of queer."