I’ve been lucky enough to be chosen as one of the writers contributing to the ‘Queer Spaces Live!’ project. Developed by Roots – the queer Yorkshire touring theatre company and support funded by Arts Council England and The National Lottery Community Fund – the project aims to make collaborative work about ‘queer spaces’. The stories created will be shared at two live performances at the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough and the York Theatre Royal in March 2022.
I don’t struggle to make stories. I have far more stories than I have time to either write or craft. I know exactly which story I want to tell and contribute but the notion of queer spaces is so loaded with history and politics and pain and joy it feels incredibly important to me to tell it right and to tell it well.
I’ve been pondering on what exactly a queer space is
Is it about the environment – ‘in-space’ and ‘out space’? Certainly back when I came out there were very definite places where one could be reasonably safely out, and other spaces such as work where it was critical to be ‘in’ (teacher in 80s Thatcher Clause 28 Britain for example). As I write this I am mindful that there are many places in the world where ‘in-space’ is still the only safe space.
Is it about architecture? Dance floors in clubs, sites of sanctuary and refuge and the unlearning of shame, closets which concealed but also protected us.
I think of queer effort and energy put into constructing alternatives to heteronormative spaces and how over history they have changed from the dodgy, poppers smelling dens of debauchery of my youth to the out-and-fucking-well-proud-get-over-it-girlfriend cruises and high-end apartment complexes. We queers changed space.
I think about how the personal is political and how we inhabited and embodied space, strutted like peacocks affirming ourselves and others and how in the taking of space we didn’t always take enough care about who was taking what from whom.
I think about queer history and experiences of queer spaces back in the day and contemporarily being different for each of us for a myriad of complicated and politically loaded reasons.
And I wonder if I can do justice to all these stories.
Gratitude to Sand Crain for the flag on building and Juliette F for the dancing queens images – via Unsplash. Appreciate your work guys. Thank you. xx