Welcome to the It Gets Better UK Blog!
This week we speak to Harry Faint (he/him) a Film and Media Lecturer in Devon. Harry is a also a podcaster, as well working on a short film development project. Harry is another of our incredible Regional Ambassadors from the South West.
Thank you for your time and insight Harry!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Hi there! My name is Harry and I am a Film Lecturer based in Devon and Cornwall. I came out as gay at the age of fifteen, but feel like I only really started to feel truly myself in recent years. In my first year as an educator, fears about being myself returned but I quickly realised that I could be the role model I needed when I was a teen.
I began to see that when my students felt safe and seen in the classroom they worked harder and enjoyed college more.
Since then, I have been working with my workplace to develop our programmes to be more accommodating to queer individuals of all intersectionalities. I believe education should be a safe space and that classrooms can play a key role in educating others about LGBTQIA lives.
I also run a podcast called Queer Reflections and I have also recently been selected to develop a short film called King Henry, which is based on my experience as a gay teen in secondary school in a post section 28 world. In my own time you’ll probably find me drinking coffee and walking around the city with my wonderful fiancé.
2. How did you get involved with It Gets Better UK?
I remember seeing It Gets Better in its infancy in the USA. It gave me hope in a dark time. Since then, I have followed their journey, and was excited to see the charity arrive in the UK. Since I begun my role as a teacher in 2020, I have attempted to network with as many queer voices in the southwest as possible.
When I saw the Regional Ambassador role come up for the charity, I jumped at it. Being able to represent the charity and connect with other Regional Ambassadors and volunteers has meant the world to me, and I hope to use the role to connect with more people, and raise voices of underrepresented sectors of our queer community, whose stories are needing to be told to really drive home our message. I also aim to get youth volunteers involved in the filmmaking process to help them tell stories for themselves too.
3. Tell us a bit about your own mental health experiences and being LGBTQ+?
I have always struggled with my mental health before I could even put the words together to articulate what that meant. I have always been an anxious person, an overthinker, a worrier. But in my teens, this developed into depressive episodes. My mental health journey has been tough and eventful but I’m glad there is more discussion happening around this area.
Obviously, being gay has had an impact on my mental health. When a lot of the world is against who you are it’s hard to not internalise those messages, especially at a young age. Luckily, over the years I’ve developed a strong network of friends who I can lean on in those times, and that I’m not alone. But I am also aware that it is an ongoing journey and no one day is the same!
4. What do you think LGBTQ+ people can learn from your experiences?
To deny who you are is to deny happiness! I feel lucky to be in the circumstances that I am, but I can’t help but think that I’ve lost some years to struggling with the correlation between masculinity and gay identity. I was so concerned that I was less of a person because I was gay, and that I had to act in a certain way to avoid discrimination or to have an easier life. That simply isn’t true.
Toxic masculinity prevails in the queer community sadly. Sometimes you must unlearn what’s wrong as well as learn what’s right to be happier. I’d hope people can read my story and see that coming out isn’t a one-day thing and that every day you can learn and challenge yourself to be better. It is joyful to teach students who know who they are without compromise.
Be you, be gay, be queer- you still deserve love, happiness and joy.
5. If you had one message for LGBTQ+ people what would it be?
Just be you! Whether in the workplace, school, home or elsewhere, you are at your best when you are your authentic self.
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