You’re at high school. Your school won’t let you bring your same-sex partner to the senior formal.
Question: What do you do?
A. Stay home
B. Go it alone
C. Organise the party of the year – where everyone’s invited
Each year, Melbourne youth organisation Minus18 runs the ‘Same Sex Formal’. It’s for all the young people who’ve missed out on the one rite-of-passage most teenagers take for granted, either because their schools told them they couldn’t bring a same sex partner, or because they didn’t feel comfortable or safe to be there.
Last year, 600 young people turned up. Teenagers Erin and Steph travelled four hours from their country town on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, to get to the formal in Melbourne. It’s the first time they’ve danced the night away in a space where they’ve felt safe to be themselves. And coming from a place where they’re used to hiding and being bullied, this formal is one transformative night.
Erin, Steph and ten other teens from the same sex formal talk about the highs and lows of falling in love, coming out and coming of age. In stark contrast to the love, acceptance and community they discover at the formal, many also recall the discrimination, rejection and isolation they face in their daily lives. At a point in time when the equal marriage debate rages around the world, and in a country where LGBT people have the highest rates of suicidality of any other population, this film explores what’s really at stake for our LGBT youth. It also sheds light on the positive people, places and events – like the same sex formal - that are changing lives.
"A moving and inspiring documentary on the key role of community in supporting LGBTI youth when the education system has let them down. Like many LGBTI people whose school days are long gone, I could only dream of being part of something so beneficial. This is a story about the power of acceptance and inclusion."
- Carl Katter, LGBTI rights advocate
“Infused with warmth, humour and a huge amount of spirit, the stories shared by these sparkling young people are profound, heartbreaking and inspiring.”
- Rachel Power, Author, The Divided Heart
"Love in full colour tells a story that will move everyone towards full acceptance of young people whose pathway to a secure adult identity is different and more challenging. That path is an ordeal for most of us in some ways and we all need understanding support to discover our own unique selves and to flourish. Every student, every teacher and every principal needs to see this film and reflect on what they can do individually and together to transform the experience of GLTBI young people."
- Professor Pat McGorry AO, Australian of the Year 2010, Co-founder of Headspace, Executive Director of Orygen Youth Services
“Brilliant filmmaking. A powerful argument for the role schools can play in accepting - and celebrating – same sex and gender diversity in our society as a whole.”
- Meredith Peace, President, Australian Education Union, Victoria
Love in full colour was shot over close to four years. In 2012, director Suzi Taylor came across a small news story about the ‘Same Sex Formal’ – an event held in Melbourne each year for same sex attracted and gender diverse students and their allies. It was for the high school students who missed out on their own school formals or debutante balls - either because they didn’t feel safe or comfortable to attend, or because their schools had explicitly forbidden them from bringing a same sex partner. In the lead-up to the same sex formal, Suzi met and interviewed some young organisers of the event, along with others who were attending for the first time. Hearing about their often harrowing experiences at high school, Suzi realised that this film was about much more than a party. It was about overcoming rejection, discrimination and invisibility, often across many different facets of their lives.