Maria Thattil joins campaign to destigmatise LGBTQIA+ issues

Maria Thattil has announced she is partnering with Olay and Minus18 to launch ‘Glow Up Your Own Way’, a national campaign dedicated to destigmatising LGBTQIA+ issues and supporting those dealing with low self-acceptance and confidence.

Thattil, who represented Australia in the 2020 Miss Universe pageant, bravely opened up about her sexual orientation for the first time on Network Ten’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! Sharing the emotional challenges she faced to confidently live her life as a bisexual Indian-Australian woman, Thattil dedicated her time on the show to Minus18, Australia’s largest LGBTQIA+ youth charity.

Reflecting on this experience, Thattil said: “I never expected to find a safe space on the show to share my truth. Championing Minus18 youth gave me the courage to share my own sexuality, and I love that coming out in a raw, unplanned way was impactful in its simplicity. To receive messages from teens who came out to their parents whilst watching that moment on the show is so profound. It speaks to the importance of visibility and representation.”

Now in its second year, Thattil joins Olay in its Glow Up Your Own Way campaign addressing research that found 9 in 10 Gen Z Australians who identify as LGBTQIA+, say they have struggled to feel comfortable in their own skin and express their true selves. With the spotlight on mental health now more than ever, these numbers are a confronting warning that more needs to be done to address the stigmatisation of the young LGBTQIA+ youth experience.

Conducted by YouGov, the national study of 505 adults also found a staggering 98% of Gen Z respondents have held back from attending events in fear of being judged. A half (49%) of these say this is a regular occurrence.

The Glow Up Your Own Way campaign will see Thattil work with Minus18, Mardi Gras and Olay to host a virtual round-table event with leaders in the LGBTQIA+ space, discussing the findings and the actions that can be taken to enable change. 

Through this partnership Thattil is further extending her support by joining forces with Minus18 on its upcoming Queer Formal Sydney Event, held on 26 February, supported by Olay. Thattil will be speaking and supporting young Australians attending the event, by connecting and sharing her personal story and experience as a bisexual Indian-Australian woman.

Thattil added: “I am so proud to partner with Olay, Minus18 and Mardi Gras because they are committed to progressing inclusivity by going where others may be afraid to. In our video, Dom and I shared our experiences as queer children of Catholic migrants and had the opportunity to talk about how the intersection of religion and culture influences the experiences of not just queer folk but their families. It is a privilege to be able to share my lived experiences and help create spaces where others are safe to do the same.”