2013 Grad - Travis

By Travis Alabanza

The main thing I took from Envision is that you don’t have to wait to change things. You can just do it. 
 

I was always like ‘I’ll get involved when I’m older. I’ll have a job and I can do stuff on the side.’ But Envision was like ‘no, you can do it now. You can make a change now.’

I’d definitely say that Envision’s been life-changing for me. Two years ago, my team ran workshops tackling homophobic language in schools. I’m gay, and it was something I felt really strongly about. If young people use swear words at school, teachers are right on it, but homophobic language is something that often gets overlooked.

A big part of our workshop was a theatre piece, and it was really hard for us to get it into schools. Lots of them knew it would contain explicit language, and didn’t want us to do it.

But we knew this was the exact language that had to be challenged, so we didn’t give up. I think we all learnt to be pretty persuasive!

After we ran the workshops, teachers signed a pledge saying that they’d crack down on this kind of language. It was their promise that they’d make sure their school was a no-tolerance zone. And the feedback we got from students was really encouraging too.

It felt great to know that we’d left that legacy in the schools we went to. Plus we’d given confidence and a voice to the LGBT community. 

Then our campaign got bigger than any of us expected. That was when Envision matched us with the charity EACH, who tackle homophobia.

They came along to one of our performances, and wanted to adapt our theatre piece to make a film they could use as a national resource. We never saw that coming – we were all so excited!

The day of the filming, I just sat back like ‘I got a green screen, this is pretty cool.’ None of us thought it would happen, but it’s amazing because it’s massively widened our reach. 

Lots of schools ask for EACH’s resources – we can’t even keep track of how many people are seeing the film now! And Ofsted has added a new criteria about monitoring this kind of language in schools. It’s exciting that our film is playing a part in a bigger movement.

We actually got awarded a Diana Award for the film. It felt amazing to be recognised on that scale, and to bring that visibility to LGBT issues. I know that none of this would have happened without Envision, so now I like to make sure I give back. I really enjoy attending Envision events, and chatting to people about the massive difference it’s made to me.

And I was so proud to represent Envision at the launch of the youth social action campaign, Step Up to Serve. How many young people can say they went to an event at Buckingham Palace? That was pretty cool.

Another door Envision’s opened is my internship this summer. I’ll be mentoring LGBT teens in California, and the progamme was really oversubscribed. In the feedback they gave me, they said that my Envision experience was what had swayed it for them. I think it’s because it tells a story - I started a project, and it took off in a way that no one could have predicted.

My sense of what I can achieve has totally shifted now. Envision has made me think that, whatever my next project is, just get it out there, because you don’t know how big it might be.

I like that it has made me so ambitious. I definitely won’t settle for second best now!