Being aware of my sexuality from a young age was when I first became familiar with my mental health. I guess the feeling of being the only one (especially in my family) made life feel extremely lonely which carried with me throughout college and my time at university… That same feeling still catches me now.
My sexuality wasn’t something I kept a secret, but it also was not a subject I was comfortable enough to discuss at the time. Though my closest friends knew, discussing it with new classmates at college was most definitely at the bottom of my things to do list. That, later on, began to impact on my work, as I would constantly have panic attacks before and while attending classes. Which eventually resulted in me not turning up to college for days and weeks on end. However during the time, I didn’t attend college, I would sit at home and work to ensure I was still up to date with assignments.
Moving on to uni (where I was the only black person on my course) I often worked on projects that in some-way related to me and my background. For example, my final project in the last year of my degree, I was exploring individuality within young black men. I shot and directed a short film on a VHS camcorder to highlight all the individual aspects that merged together to make them unique.
I remember specifically one of my tutors almost interrogating me as to why anyone would be interested in such topic while another tutor was absolutely keen of the project, which you can imagine left me in a state of confusion. This is where my inspiration for Handle with Care originated.
It is extremely important to have access to more platforms that allow creatives from different fields to explore subjects such as race, mental health, queer and boyhood but through their own creativity. In a way, I want to give many people a voice. A voice that I did not necessarily have whilst studying at uni and I know there are others who can relate. There is constant talent emerging from the LGBTQ+ and QPOC communities. However, I can’t help but feel there isn’t enough exposure. Though I am working behind this platform to help others, I also see this platform working as almost therapy for myself.
We’re at a time now where men’s mental health is more important than ever and whilst I can appreciate that many men are physically not able to speak on their mental health, I want to provide a platform where they feel comfortable enough to express their thoughts and feelings in any way they want creatively.
Handle With Care will imitate a digital zine with different sectors including news, fashion, interviews, music, nightlife & lifestyle. My business partner (@joshuameredith) and I are bumping heads to channel our own skills and experiences in the creative industry to allow others to be part of a community where there is no right or wrong. Simply being yourself is all we ask. There are some exciting projects and plans we have coming up and soon we’ll be opening up for submissions to allow those an equal chance to share work.