So I feel slightly cheeky about my deed as it’s more the result of something that happened to me as part of one of my jobs working with a youth theatre project, however I do think it matches this rather wonderful job and countered gendered sexism from a slightly different perspective.
Me and my colleague were approached one rehearsal by a father who had brought his son along. The son apparently just wanted to watch the rehearsal but was too shy to take part. The father spoke to me and my colleague and explained that his son went to an all boys school and had always wanted to get involved in singing and performing yet every time he tried something at school such as singing lessons he was bullied by his peers for singing and performing being perceived as too effeminate or that to be a performer was synonymous with being gay – which according to these rather aggressive youths was not a good thing at all… In the rehearsal break we took the son aside and had a good long chat with him where he told us about the problems and we took great care to tell him that performing has nothing to do with masculinity or weakness – but rather it’s about strength and courage to stand up and perform and about the support other performers can offer each other. We told him he would always be welcome in the theatre group and we honestly couldn’t care less if people were manly/girly, boy/girl, gay/straight – so long as they could feel comfortable as they are.
Now that might sound like a standard teacher/facilitator response and I didn’t think too much of it at the time until I got the reply from the father displayed in the picture (with personal details blanked out for obvious reasons) which made me realise that just one small word of encouragement and support can make a world of difference to a young person going through their most formative years.