We talked with youth worker, community builder and founder of Exist Loudly, Tanya Compas to discuss her charity work, brand new organisation, and how we can get involved…
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
My name is Tanya Compas, I’m a 28 year old youth worker, community builder and founder of Exist Loudly, an organisation created to support and nurture queer Black youth through spaces of joy and community. I do this whilst also maintaining a presence on social media, using my platform to showcase my life as a mixed-Black, queer, masculine presenting woman in all of its joy and misery. I love creating content around all things queer, fashion, body positivity, fitness, mental health and most importanantly, showing that women can be lads too!
How did you get into the work you do?
I’ve worked in the charity sector and with young people for around 6 years, predominantly working with young women from Black, working class backgrounds based around South London. Youth work was the first job I got into after university and as I grew within my career, I grew more as a person and gained a better understanding of my own identity, including my queerness. I naturally shared my journey around exploring my identity on my social media platforms, speaking often around sexuality, gender, gender expression, dating and most importantly community. Doing so meant I garnered a social media following, which has led me to do work on social media, speaking on panels, doing consulting work with brands and most importantly, my work and platform have given me the tools to successfully fundraise for my new organisation Exist Loudly.
What is Exist Loudly?
Exist Loudly is an organisation birthed out of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and my years of frustration working within charitable organisations who refuse to acknowledge the nuanced experience of queer Black youth and thus failed to provide the support queer Black youth deserved. I decided to launch a fundraiser to pay for some workshops for queer Black youth and within 24 hours launching the £10,000 fundraiser, the fundraiser had reached over £50,000, which meant that my dreams of solely running workshops, now grew to Exist Loudly becoming an official charity. Within less than 30 days, the fundraiser reached £111,000 and I decided to share £59,000 between 5 other charitable organisations working with queer Black and POC youth across the UK. After the fundraiser, Exist Loudly was officially born. Exist Loudly is an organisation that is committed to supporting and nurturing queer Black Youth through spaces of joy and community, created both online and IRL.
What gave you the inspiration to create the organisation?
Exist Loudly is an organisation I wish I could have gone to or knew about when I was younger. It’s an organisation dedicated to amplifying queer Black voices and holding space for the queer Black community. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is, growing up I thought being LGBTQ+ was a ‘white people thing’ and I still hear young people in schools say the exact same thing. It’s hugely affected by the lack of representation and the erasure of the voices and faces of the queer and trans Black community. Lack of representation, robs people of the ability to dream, to imagine a life outside of the CIS-Heterosexual world we live in and most importantly robs us of the language to articulate who we are. This is why I wanted to create Exist Loudly. To ensure young people not only know that Queer Black Brits exist, but to know where to go for support, for community and for joy.
For the immediate future, it’s to really get Exist Loudly off of the ground. Our first step is launching a huge research project on the experiences of queer Black youth which should hopefully be a really important piece fo work that can influence how the education system, charities and services work with and support queer Black youth. On a more fun side, I absolutely cannot wait to launch some of our first workshops for queer Black youth and to just be able to bring young people together. A more future plan, would be to have a proper youth space somewhere in South London that would become a hub for queer Black youth.
How can others get involved and help?
To get involved, I always emphasise that people, brands and companies should look internally first and be happy with helping in the background. Have a think about what services, resources or spaces can you offer up to support Exist Loudly? Whether that is funding a specific project, programme or workshop, fundraising for us, providing some space to run an event, providing your services or skills to support our IRL or digital programmes, providing product to aid a workshop or to simply just gift some product for queer Black youth. We’re looking to build long term relationships to create sustainable change and It all starts with a conversation. If anyone is interested in hearing more or helping with Exist Loudly, you can follow me on Instagram on @TanyaCompas, follow @ExistLoudly and email us on firstname.lastname@example.org