Celebration, Pride, and Violence: Queer Experiences in Youth, Peace & Security

Including young people in all their diversity is crucial to advancing sustainable, positive peace around the world. Even though their protection concerns and need for social and political change are some of the most acute, young queer peacebuilders often feel that their perspectives and issues are sidelined from the mainstream peace and security agendas.

As noted by young queer peacebuilders, addressing SOGIESC more explicitly will contribute to lasting peace throughout conflict-affected contexts. Often ostracized by the mainstream peacebuilding movement on the basis of age, the YPS movement has not always been explicitly open to sexual and gender minority (SGM) communities in its mandate -- reflecting the realities of queer individuals in broader peace and security conversations. While the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda has made many strides in creating inclusive spaces, the exclusion of queer youth impedes its progress. In an effort to truly move the global YPS agenda forward, the peace and security field must strive to understand all young peacebuilders’--including and particularly queer youth’s– needs and support their well-being, safety, and meaningful participation.

This paper is meant to open the conversation for further exploration and is guided by the following question: What have the experiences of young queer peacebuilders been and what are their needs?

From November through December, 2021, 15 people were interviewed ranging in age from 21 to 32, and from Central and South America, North America, Europe, the Middle East, Southern Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Their experiences, the challenges they face, and the hopes that many of them have for the future of the peace and security field are synthesized below. But first, it is important to situate these experiences in the global realities and policy dynamics in which these young peacebuilders work.