Fear//Less exhibition challenges toxic masculinity - YMCA DownsLink Group

Fear//Less exhibition challenges toxic masculinity


The young people who work with us at YMCA Right Here recently worked on a project to explore and challenge ideas around male identity, body image, relationships, emotional wellbeing and health.

They are concerned about the focus on male toxicity, the high suicide rates among young men and their hesitancy in accessing mental health support. The team curated and hosted an exciting and interactive exhibition, FEAR//LESS, to showcase art, film, dance and spoken word at Whitehawk Football Club and The MET College.

The exhibition at Whitehawk FC was welcomed by Kevin Miller (Head of Commercial at Whitehawk FC) who said:

“The FEAR// LESS campaign is a superb and innovative direct-action initiative, that speaks to young men in a way that is easily accessible and understood, and we are delighted that YMCA Right Here are launching the campaign at Whitehawk FC.”

Over 500 people attended the exhibition at the Whitehawk Football Club. The follow-up exhibition at the MET College saw more than 140 people attending and reflected a very broad and diverse audience.

This exhibition hosted live spoken word and poetry from young people who have lost friends to suicide, struggled with mental health and supported their loved ones through difficult times. It was very moving and reminded us why it’s so important to have these fearless conversations and find ways to celebrate the different ways to ‘be a man’, whilst also challenging harmful and narrow stereotypes.

Jacob Bayliss, who led the project within YMCA Right Here, has reflected on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from both exhibitions, as demonstrated by some of their feedback:

‘The exhibition was great and creative, the paintings and photos help start a conversation. Everything was so inspiring and made me feel differently about man issues. It really touched home.’ Will, 14

‘It is so powerful to see such a diverse exploration of masculinity, and promising to see that calibre and tenderness of today’s young men.’ – Jude, 48

It can be difficult to engage young men, which is why this exhibition was so important. If you know any young men who would like to be involved in YMCA Right Here we are always encouraging and welcoming new young volunteers – they can email the team here.

Please visit our website to view our pocket guides around wellbeing, suicidal thoughts and self-harm prevention https://ymcarighthere.com/

For mental health services and support, visit Find Get Give https://findgetgive.com/



YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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