Nurturing empathy for social cohesion: Participatory, community-based communication design research with gay youth living with HIV in Lebanon

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  • The marginalization of gay youth living with HIV (GYLWH) in Lebanese society is well documented. The topic of gay youth living with HIV in a deeply conservative and homophobic society has not been studied in any great depth. The story of gay youth in Lebanon is one of the stigmatization of minorities within and by other minorities. The question of how to break down ‘walls’ built on foundations of ignorance, intolerance, and self-loathing is yet to be examined. Using participatory, community-based communication design methods, this thesis project presents a model that uses visual communication design, in the form of digital storytelling (the making of videos), to help build trust among GYLWH in Beirut, Lebanon in order to remove barriers between groups and individuals and reduce stigma. The research project tested a design thinking process, for social designers dealing with marginalized groups, in the form of a workshop procedure that was implemented within/by a support group. This research was concerned with bridging the gap between GYLWH and their community, using visual communication design as a means of initiating a dialogue between the two groups. The research shed light on the lives and experiences of gay youth living with the virus. This process had a dual effect. It helped GYLWH to build confidence by allowing them to speak up and express themselves through sharing their stories with their community, and it nurtured empathy in gay youth (GY) by exposing them to the realities of living with HIV and by opening a discourse that resulted in their personal growth.

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  • Type of Item
    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International