Journalists’ Journey: Watch us W.E.R.Q.!

    W.E.R.Q./Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media, also known as The Rainbow Experience, is an internship for which a group of seven teens split into three squads and embark on a yearlong journey to create nine intriguing podcasts.

    Throughout this year, we created vlogs such as, “America, What Happened?” and “i found god in myself,” which was filmed at the African American Museum in Philadelphia in tribute to the 40th anniversary of Ntozake Shange’s “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.” Also, we participated in a Black Lives Matter panel based on the films “Moonlight” and “Pariah” and served as press for The University Community Collaborative’s Social Justice POWER Panel at Temple University. As emerging journalists, we are in the most exciting stages of creating our podcasts. We have completed our focus groups and preliminary pitches. Now, we are preparing for the Final Pitch Panel and the production of our episodes.

    The W.E.R.Q./Radio internship program run by The Attic Youth Center has not only given us an outlet for our creativity, but also allowed us to grow and become more aware of the world around us. This program has provided many opportunities that are rare for LGBTQ+ youth; we are truly lucky to be a part of such a supportive and successful experience! If you asked any one of us what our favorite part of the internship is, you’d earn yourself a variety of responses — anything from the staff to the sense of belonging and the warm atmosphere that The Attic provides. You could say we are almost like a family; we look after each other, we check up on each other, we respect each other and, like a family, if one member succeeds, we all succeed.

    However, nothing is without its challenges; the radio episodes we are creating are far from easy. We have been working extremely hard and the research keeps us on our toes. As a group, the balance of our strengths and weaknesses helps greatly; there is always someone stronger when you need assistance. Also, lead intern Damien Walker has been very essential and helpful with keeping us on track!

    As mentioned, we are divided into three radio cohorts. The first team is the Slay Gay squad. They are about “walking the walk and talking the talk!” Squad mates Tamia Lawrence and Julian Maestre have created four ideas for podcasts. The first potential episode is “The MASC We Wear.” It will be tackling the toxicity of masculinity within the LGBTQ+ community and the world at large. The second episode, “Don’t Disrespect My Walk,” will talk about how street harassment is targeted towards LGBTQ+ people and women via sexism and homophobia. The third episode, “A Walk Down Rainbow Lane,” will outline the history of LGBTQ+ rights that are ignored and excluded from school curriculums. The last episode possibility is “Where’s My Ballot?” highlighting LGBTQ+ concerns being ignored in politics, and as humans being considered controversial. This episode will address politicians to treat the interests of the queer community with respect.

    Justin Newsome and Miya Ingram make up the My Chemical Gayness squad and aim to empower the community. They’re working on podcasts such as “You Are Not Alone,” an episode dedicated to mental illness in the LGBTQ+ community. Another episode is called “Trumping LGBTQ+ Laws,” which talks about Donald Trump and the legislation he is attempting to alter or remove during his presidential tenure. Lastly, there is “You Don’t Have to Respond,” an episode about online safety tips that will help protect youth who have the desire to talk with new people on various social-media platforms.

    Rounding out the internship teams are the Inverted Rainbow squad consisting of Bruce Bennett and Julia Jones, who coin themselves “a group of unicorns striving to honor the many voices of the LGBTQ+ community.” This squad has been working on a variety of topics ranging from bisexuality to gendered clothing. So far, they have pitched four episodes. First, there’s “Bisexuality! Big Misunderstanding,” which is about the misconceptions surrounding individuals who identify as the “B” in LGBTQ+. Next, there’s “What’s Wrong with My Clothes?” which deals with categorizing clothing options solely in the binary. Then there’s “Do I Pass Today?” which will explore what misgendering does to the psyche. Finally, there’s “With A Filter,” which is about positive sexual-health resources for youth.

    We, with the help of our facilitator TS Hawkins, have been working hard to make our voices heard. Whether it be an episode on clothing equity, politics or mental health, or sitting on a panel or making a vlog, we continue to find ways to make all that we do relevant to those in and outside the LGBTQ+ community. With “one mic and many voices,” we are learning that our point of view is significant because we are the future. We are creative and articulate intellectuals who have a uniqueness to offer the world. Through different struggles, paths and journeys, we hope the upcoming episodes evoke universal emotions.

    Help us celebrate our voices plus the debut of the radio episodes at our closing event, #WERQURVOICE: A Culmination Celebration, June 14 at the Philadelphia City Institute/Free Library! In the meantime, follow everything we’re doing at www.atticyouthcenter.org or www.therainbowexperienceradio.blogspot.com

    Bruce Bennett, 15, is a college-bound aspiring journalist and author.

    Miya Ingram, 17, is a spoken-word artist with journalistic passion.

    Julia G. Jones, 16, is a young entrepreneur looking for opportunities on every front.

    Tamia Lawrence, 15, is a young journalist with huge ambitions to change the world.

    Julian Maestre, 18, spends time in photography and filmmaking class.

    Justin Newsome, 19, is an aspiring actor, director and journalist.

    Damien Walker, 16, is a young leader who spends time encouraging the plus-size community.